Let’s recap, shall we? In case you missed it, over the past month or so, we’ve been exploring the concept of Skin Climate through a series of blog posts. Now that we’ve established what Skin Climate is, and how it connects to chronic inflammation and free radical stress, it’s time to take it a step further and talk gut health.
You’ve heard it before and we’ll say it again: what’s happening inside your body is reflected on the outside, in your skin. But what exactly inside of us is contributing to a healthy or unhealthy Skin Climate? The human microbiome is a big part of this. The human microbiome is the entire collection of species that reside within and on our bodies. These species mostly reside in our intestines (lower gut), and we work together to provide benefits to one another, which can enormously impact our health. This intricate connection between the gut and skin has led to the term “gut-skin axis” and researchers are increasingly investigating how the gut microbiome influences our skin, as well as other organs including the brain and lungs.
There’s lots of evidence that the human microbiome that may:
- Produce many nutrients important for human health
- Prevent infections
- Modify or influences immune response
- Is partly responsible for human metabolism
- Regulate the balance between health and disease
With that in mind, negative changes to our gut microbiome are linked to the development of skin conditions including eczema or atopic dermatitis. Discovery of this connection has led to the idea that improving our microbiome could play a role in skin disease prevention or treatment.
So, how do we improve our microbiome?
A lot of research has focused on supplementing with probiotics, which are live beneficial gut bacteria that comes in the form of capsules, yogurt or even smoothies/other beverages. The thing is, your diet impacts the effectiveness of probiotics, meaning there has to be food for them available within your gut in order for them to survive and flourish. This is where prebiotics come into play. Prebiotics are essentially dietary fibers that are not digested, or only partially digested, that are not absorbed through the small intestine, and that are used as food by beneficial intestinal bacteria.
Prebiotics have enormous potential to modify the human microbiome. Many studies have shown that prebiotics significantly increase beneficial bacteria levels, and can enhance immune function. Some of these enhanced immune function effects are linked to improved inflammatory skin conditions like acne, eczema/atopic dermatitis, and psoriasis.
Foods that are good sources of prebiotics include:
- Onions and shallots
- Chickpeas and lentils
- Bananas, watermelon, and grapefruit
- Barley and oats
- Almonds, pistachios, and flaxseeds
In summary, the gut-skin axis and ensuring you have a healthy microbiome is closely tied to your Skin Climate. While probiotics are often highlighted, prebiotics are actually required for them to flourish.