Did you know there’s a close relationship between the health of your gut and the health of your skin? There are many different microorganisms, including bacteria, that reside in the gut and which are often simply referred to as “flora”. Check out these simple ways to make sure you avoid a gut imbalance for healthy, glowing skin.
What is a flora imbalance?
Balanced gastrointestinal (GI) flora provides support for the immune system, nutrient absorption, and removal of toxins from the body through regular healthy bowel movements. Combined, these processes help balance flora on the skin (yes, there’s flora on your skin!), which promotes clear and healthy skin.
When your body does not have enough “beneficial” bacteria, “harmful” gut bacteria can thrive and take over the gut environment. Flora imbalances can be caused by poor diet, illness, use of antibiotics, and stress.
All of those things show up in the health of the skin: how dry/oily it is, type and severity of acne, and risk for autoimmune-related skin disorders. Symptoms of flora imbalance can also include:
- Persistent gas
What are probiotics?
To maintain or rebalance GI flora, consider adding probiotics to your diet. Probiotics are live microorganisms (in most cases, bacteria) that are similar to the beneficial microorganisms naturally found in the gut.
Probiotics are “friendly” bacteria and you may need some if you’ve just had a course of antibiotics. How much do you need exactly? Think billions. Billions of Colony Forming Units (CFU) per serving.
According to Consumer Reports, yogurts with the highest CFU levels are Breyer’s Fruit on Bottom Lowfat, Colombo Light, Dannon Fruit on Bottom Lowfat, Stonyfield Farm Organic Lowfat, and Yoplait Original Lowfat.
Yogurts might even have more probiotics than probiotic supplements. A recent study found acidophilus liquids and capsules were much lower in probiotic bacteria than the Yogurts and Yogurt drinks. And not nearly as tasty. While probiotics can be used to heal many issues, today we’re focusing on the healing effects they have on our skin.
There are many types of bacteria classified as probiotics. Among the many health benefits of probiotics are the following:
- Boost the immune system by enhancing the production of antibodies
- Support the synthesis of vitamins and other nutrients
- Provide relief or treatment for constipation, diarrhea and other GI tract illness
When it comes to the skin, keeping the gut flora in balance helps organ systems (including the integumentary system) to efficiently absorb nutrients. It can also strengthen the immune system. Probiotics also help clear toxins from the body. All of these can have a positive impact on your skin.
You can boost the presence of helpful GI flora by taking a probiotic supplement as well as eating fermented foods. There are many varieties of probiotics on the market — not all are created equal and some are better suited to different health needs. Your holistic health provider can advise you on the type of probiotic supplement that is best for your skincare concerns.
Improve Your Gut Health with Your Diet
As we’ve already established, there’s a connection between the gut and your skin. Along with making sure you get enough probiotics, it’s important to make sure your diet includes foods which prevent gut imbalance. A gut imbalance can not only cause acne, but can impact your mood, cause stomach problems, disrupt sleep, and more.
Here are a few tips to help rebalance your gut:
- Eat a whole foods diet. In particular, the high-fiber, nutrient-rich foods in the Mediterranean Diet have been shown to protect the integrity of the gut microbiome.
- Eat more fermented foods. Fermentation is a process for preserving food that can improve digestibility. Fermented foods contain bacteria that are an important source of nutrients and health-promoting bacteria for the gut.
- Take a prebiotic supplement. Prebiotics are a type of fiber that the human body cannot digest. They serve as fuel for probiotics, which are tiny living microorganisms, (bacteria and yeast). Both prebiotics and probiotics support the body in building and maintaining a healthy gut. To ensure the right combination and proper absorption, prebiotic – probiotic regiment needs to be prescribed by your physician.
- See your doctor. If you’ve had ongoing problems with gastrointestinal symptoms, it’s time to see a health practitioner rather than trying to treat the gut on your own. Since the microbiome is unique to each person, you need a personalized approach to rebalancing, which can be provided in consultation with a medical practitioner.
Improve Your Gut With Nature
Dietary change isn’t the only way to improve gut health. Lifestyle changes can too! An often overlooked part of gut health is making sure you have enough Vitamin D.
A 2016 study found getting enough Vitamin D was necessary to balance the gut microbiome. While there are Vitamin D supplements on the market, the best way is to soak some sun! Regularly spending time outside ensures you get the Vitamin D you need to have a healthy gut and glowing skin.
If you really want to increase your Vitamin D levels, it’s recommended to spend 15-30 minutes in daily sunlight exposure without wearing sunscreen.
Curious if you spend enough time outside? Take my nature deficit disorder quiz to find out! When you take this free quiz, you’ll also be emailed weekly tips and ideas about how to spend more time outside in nature.
Balancing your gut health is important for many reasons, including making sure your skin is glowing. To balance your gut health, consider dietary changes, taking a probiotic, and spending more time in nature. If you’re interested in finding out more about natural ways to take care of our skin, check out our guide to naturally healing acne.
If you’re interested in the power of nature and lifestyle medicine to heal not only your skin, but every aspect of your physical and mental health, consider subscribing to my newsletter. When you subscribe, you’ll get access to weekly tips, resources, and more to help you live a happier and healthier life using nature.