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Gut health for skin health

DR FEDE EXPLAINS 

What is the gut-skin axis?

The gut-skin axis refers to the relationship between our gut microbiome and skin health. The two are closely related as our guts release hormones and messenger molecules which impact all of our organs, including the skin.

How does gut microbe diversity impact the health of the skin?

Having a diverse microbiome is key in supporting our body for all its daily functions, and specifically for enabling our immune system to work properly. The microbiome plays a key role in reducing inflammation, which we know can impact the skin resulting in conditions such as eczema and acne. The gut microbiome is also directly involved in hormone regulation so ensuring we have a diverse microbiome makes it easier for our bodies to maintain hormonal balance which directly impacts our skin health. 

A simple way to improve gut microbiome diversity is to eat more plants and aim to consume probiotic foods every day.” – Dr Federica Amati PhD ANutr.

How do prebiotics and probiotics impact the gut?

Prebiotics provide the nutrition needed for the gut microbiome to thrive. Think of prebiotics as the food which our gut microbes digest for us, allowing them to produce chemicals such as short chain fatty acids (SCFA) which play a crucial role in maintaining health. 

Probiotics refers to foods that contain helpful bacterial strains which we can include in our diet as a way to supplement our gut microbiome. These foods include kefir, sauerkraut and fermented miso.

Which are the most useful to take in supplement form?

Which probiotics are useful to take is dependent on what your current microbiome makeup looks like. Personalised nutrition approaches allow us to prescribe beneficial strains which might be lacking, but it changes from person to person. There are some strains, like Lactobacillus Acidophilus which are considered beneficial for most people and can be found in synbiotic supplement Indi Body which contains L. Acidophilus as well as prebiotic fibres. Every microbe has a different role in breaking down specific prebiotic fibres, and they all produce different postbiotic chemicals which contribute to our overall health.

What is a leaky gut, and what effect does it have on the skin? 

Leaky gut refers to when the endothelial barrier of the gut is compromised and the carefully balanced transfer of chemicals from inside the gut lumen to the outside and vice-versa is disrupted. This can lead to inflammation of the gut and a wider inflammatory response, as well as causing symptoms of food intolerance. People who have a compromised gut barrier tend to suffer with irritable bowel symptoms and can have irritated skin. The best thing to do is to consult a Nutrition or Dietetics specialist to evaluate the condition and take a personalised approach.

If stress impacts gut health, does that impact our skin?

Stress and the gut are very closely linked and when we have high cortisol levels due to stress, it impacts all of our systems. The brain and the gut are directly connected by the vagus nerve which tells our gut when we feel stressed, but also receives messages from our gut when what we eat isn’t supporting balance in our bodies. Those who suffer with chronic stress may find they also suffer with psoriasis, dermatitis, break outs and other inflammatory skin conditions. Treating skin, gut and mind together is most effective in helping people with these conditions. 

What is your overall advice for those wanting to improve their gut health and skin health?

Aim to consume more plants every day and try to include as many antioxidant rich colourful plants as possible. Increasing polyphenol intake is associated with improved skin health - a supplement such as Indi Body can help achieve a higher diversity alongside a plant rich diet.

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DR FEDERICA AMATI PHD ANUTR 

Dr Federica Amati is a powerhouse of evidence-based knowledge and information. She holds a PhD in Clinical Medicine Research from Imperial College London and is a registered Nutritionist with the Association for Nutrition. She is also actively involved in nutrition, physical activity and mental wellbeing research at Imperial College London; and cardiometabolic health and COVID-19 and nutrition research with NNedPro, a global think tank founded at Cambridge University. Alongside her research and private client consultations, she is also Chief Nutrition Scientist for Indi Supplements.