Last week we discussed our ‘gut-skin axis’ and how our gut health impacts our skin health! This week I’d like to focus a little more on the specific and most common inflammatory skin conditions that are linked to our gut health.
Below are the most common risk factors involved in exacerbating symptoms of a skin condition:
- Irregular eating
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Diet and nutrition
- Gut dysbiosis
- Impaired detoxification pathways
- Topical applications
- Food intolerances
What do all of these have in common? They are ALL closely connected to the overall functioning of our GUT!
Let’s look at these skin disorders. What are they? How are they related to our gut health?
Acne Vulgaris - major inflammatory disease so is closely related to your immune and digestive systems. It can be caused by a specific bacteria called Propionibacterium acnes, nutrient deficiencies, inflammation and a variety of hormonal factors such as androgen excess. *TIP - Reducing inflammation throughout your gut (often via diet) and improving the clearance of hormones by the liver is essential to reducing the effects of acne.
Acne Rosacea - another inflammatory disorder however the precise pathophysiology for this skin condition is unknown. We do know however, that because it is an inflammatory condition our immune system plays a huge role. How much of our immune system is in our gut? Approximately 80%! Our microbiota in our gut is also associated with rosacea and research shows that impairment of our gut barrier and alteration in gut microflora causes rosacea and skin outbreaks due to our gut-skin axis. *TIP - Reducing dairy intake, increasing essential fatty acid intake, and hormone modulation (especially if oestrogen dominance is an issue) are all important factors when it comes to managing rosacea.
Eczema (atopic dermatitis) - this chronic, superficial inflammation of the skin is often seen in individuals with a family history of allergic rhinitis, asthma or other allergies. Its development involves multiple potential genes, an altered innate and adaptive immune response (immune system again!), and epidermal epithelial dysfunction. Furthermore, the development of atopic dermatitis might be promoted not only by gut microbiome diversity in itself, but also by interactions between specific gut microbiome, established immune systems, and harmonization of the gut microbiome and the host. *TIP - Know your triggers for flare ups. If we can identify them, we can manage them and reduce the intensity of them. I often highly recommend food intolerance testing and stress management techniques in cases of eczema.
Psoriasis - an immune-mediated inflammatory disease of the skin. The plaques involved in psoriasis are areas of excessive skin cell production and inflammation. Due to its autoimmune nature, modulation of immune system function is vital in the management of this condition. One of the most impacting ways to modulate your immune system is to work on the health of your gut. This decreases inflammation and helps to create tight gap junctions within your gut lining so toxins and pathogens aren’t absorbed. The more we focus on this, the less reactive your immune system becomes. *TIP - work on clearing tissue waste and cleaning blood with lymphatic herbs and nutrients such as burdock, cleavers, nettle, yellow dock, vitamin A & zinc.
Pigmentation - widespread hyper-pigmentation can be caused by changes in hormones, internal health conditions, chemicals, drugs and heavy metals. However, the most common cause of pigmentation is a skin condition known as vitiligo. It is a result of a decrease in melanin production typically due to a tissue-specific autoimmune process. Similar to that of psoriasis, vitiligo needs to be approached from an angle that focuses on gut and immune system support and modulation. *TIP - get your vitamin D levels checked. Vitamin D supplementation is essential for autoimmune conditions.
Two highlights from this - all of these conditions involve both
- The skin-gut axis, and
- Immune system dysfunction.
Working on your gut health to assist skin conditions is starting to seem like a no-brainer right?