Acne and the Gut
‘Our skin is really just a mirror into the health of our entire body’ Did you know the health of our gut can effect the health of our skin? And that acne is linked to whats going on inside your gut?
For example, people who suffer from acne are more likely to have low stomach acid, bacterial overgrowth and/or microbiome disruption. This means you can actually help promote clear skin by looking after and healing your gut. Many inflammatory skin conditions have been directly linked to disruptions in the gut including acne, rosacea, eczema and psoriasis.
If you have acne but you also: -feel bloated after eating -you either get constipation, or have the sudden need to go to the toilet -go to the toilet less than once a day -you’ve been on longterm medication
-you’ve take one or more courses of antibiotics in your life -you crave sweet things
-your energy dips throughout the day -you often feel fatigued -you get acid reflux -you get frequent nausea -you suffer from stomach pain
Your gut may be playing a role in your acne. Let's have a look at some common gut issues that have been linked to the development of acne. 1) Hypochlorhydria (low stomach acid): Hypochlorhydria is when the production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach and other digestive organs is absent or low. Hydrochloric acid (HCL) is naturally secreted in the stomach in order to digest food, in-particular proteins, and absorb nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, zinc and copper. It also helps our body defend itself against invading organisms such as bacteria and yeasts. Without sufficient acid to kill off bacteria, unfavourable organisms can make their way into your small intestine. Over time, you can have an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine, which fires up your immune system. Resulting in acne breakouts. What causes low stomach acid? - chronic stress depletes HCL - eating too quickly, not giving the body enough time to fully digest food - high sugar intake - high processed food intake - zinc deficiency - age, as we age our HCL production reduces - antacid medication and prescription drugs. Antacids can be counter intuitive, reducing acid means that food is not digested properly, resulting in fermentation and production of the wrong type of acid leading to acid reflux. - food sensitivities or allergies - bacteria and pathogens
2) SIBO - small intestinal bacterial overgrowth Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) is the presence of excessive bacteria in the small intestine What causes SIBO?
This bacterial overgrowth can happen when bacteria from one part of the digestive tract travel to the small intestine or when naturally occurring bacteria in the small intestine multiply too much. It can also be caused by: - heavy alcohol use - oral contraceptive pills - the abnormally slow movement of the digestive system - low levels of stomach acid - physical abnormalities of the small intestine - a weakened immune system - diets high in sugar and refined carbohydrates - medications that influence or disrupt the normal gut flora, such as antibiotics, acid-blocking drugs, and steroids - food poisoning - stress Along with imbalances to your microbiome, SIBO can also cause an increase in inflammation. Both inflammation in your gut, and inflammation throughout your entire body including your skin.
3) Leaky Gut Leaky Gut, also known as Increased Intestinal Permeability is a digestive condition that effects the lining of the Gut (gastro intestinal tract). In a Leaky Gut the lining of the intestines becomes compromised and allows large undigested protein particles, parasites, fats, toxins and bacteria into the bloodstream. This can result in acute inflammation and even autoimmune reactions as the immune system is ramped up to try to deal with these toxic particles. In one study researchers took blood samples from patients with acne and patient with clear skin. They found that 65% of the blood from acne patients contained small bits bacteria, indicating that they had leaky gut. The good news is that the gut lining can be repaired!
4)Food sensitivities/intolerances Food intolerances involve the digestive system and are not allergies. A food intolerance, or a food sensitivity occurs when a person has difficulty digesting a particular food.
This can lead to symptoms such as - intestinal gas, - abdominal pain - constipation - bloating - diarrhoea You are actually much more likely to react to foods if you have compromised gut health as bits of food can get into blood stream causing an immune response. People often find that removing the trigger foods from their diet can result in a lessening of their acne.
5) Gut microbiome dysbiosis The bacteria in our gut is called the microbiome and is essential in keeping our body healthy. Our gut microbiome contains good and bad bacteria and is like its own ecosystem, it works harmoniously to keep us healthy.
The gut microbiome helps to: - digest your food, - regulates immune system, - helps to produce vitamins. However, when there is an imbalance (dysbiosis), the number of bad bacteria in the gut can become too high, causing a whole host of problems including leaky gut and inflammation. And as we now know inflammation in the gut can lead to inflammation on the skin e.g acne, rosacea, psoriasis Things that can cause microbiome to be off balance are diminish the number and types of bacteria in your gut microbiome and this can wind up - poor diet - stress - medications - antibiotics - hormonal birth control - infection - toxins
How do we heal and create a healthy gut and in turn work towards healing the skin? Firstly, if you are experiencing acne and any of the above symptoms the best thing to do is to book in with our nutritionist. Our nutritionist can dig deep into what may be going on internally and put you on the right track to healing. In the meantime below are some things that can help you gut and reduce inflammation.
+ Eat prebiotic foods Prebiotics are a special kind of fibre that is food for your good gut bacteria. Prebiotic foods include asparagus, chickpeas, garlic, green bananas, leeks, lentils, oats and onions. Fibre is also helpful in keeping you regular, you should be having at least one poo a day, this will help to eliminate toxins and excess hormones from the body. + Eat probiotic foods probiotics are the ‘good’ bacteria that - repopulate the gut microbiome - support the immune system - strengthening the intestinal barrier - stop the overgrowth of one specific bacteria
One study showed that drinking fermented milk (kefir) which is rich in probiotics reduced oiliness and improved acne in just 12 weeks. Probiotic foods include: - kefir - kombucha - natural live yogurt - saurkraut - kimchi
Stress depletes our bodies of vitamins and minerals and disrupts the gut microbiome. Stress also reduces the diversity of gut bacteria so make time for proper relaxation. Switching off is a necessity. Your gut and your skin will thank you for it!
Some other tips to help heal your gut: - eat high quality protein with every meal - increase your intake of omega 3 fats - drink bone broth (full of gut healing properties) - minimise intake of processed foods - reduce toxic load e.g smoking and alcohol - cut down on caffeine
Some supplements we love to support the gut are:
- Terranova Life Drink
This powder has all the good stuff in it, including protein, omega oils, pre and probiotics, digestive enzymes and antioxidants to help support you internally.
-Terranova digestive enzymes
These are great if you don't get on so well with powder and prefer a capsule. They contain digestive enzymes and probiotics, both great for the gut!
- Terranova Living Multinutrient Complex
Great to just give your body that boost of vitamins and nutrients it may be missing, especially if the you are experiencing gut troubles. Your skin will thank you!