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May 18, 2021

Stress, Skin and Your Gut Health

Self-care has become notably important recently and rightly so, pollution, anxiety and fast-paced living has sparked somewhat of a stress crisis, and the skin is one of the first things to suffer as a consequence. Instead of considering just the appearance, research suggests that gut health is equally important for clear and optimal skin health. Stress on the skin can be caused by intrinsic (stress, alcohol consumption) and extrinsic (pollution, sun damage) factors. Pollutants and other bacteria can cling onto the skin’s surface and add further stress and damage, which can exacerbate breakouts and worsen the skin ageing process. 

The health of our digestive system is intrinsically linked with the health of our skin and an imbalanced gut microbiome, known as Dysbiosis, can result in inflammation and various skin conditions. Our gut provides a barrier between the interior of the digestive tract and the general circulation of all that separates the contents of your intestines from the rest of you. Anything that irritates the lining of your gut can cause it to become inflamed. This could be anything like food allergies and additives, alcohol, prescription medication and stress- and judging by the year we have all had, there’s no telling what the stress of this year has done to our health.

When the gut gets irritated and inflamed, several things happen. The nerves that filter through the digestive tract are signalled to tell the body that they need to defend themselves from what’s going on in the gut and it triggers a response by increasing stress levels to help prepare the body to fight and no good fight can happen without a healthy immune system.

The skin’s response to this is to kick-start its very own immune system which lets us know there is a problem by visibly presenting itself on the surface of the skin as un-welcomed spots, dryness, redness, textural irregularities, sensitivities and premature signs of ageing. The skin is often a good way to determine what’s going on inside the gut. The gut is where 70 percent of our immune system lies, it’s where our nutrients are absorbed, it metabolises hormones and detoxifies enzymes, while neutralising pathogens. More and more studies are showing that where there is gut inflammation, there will be skin inflammation. If your skin is irritated, inflamed or congested, chances are high that there may be an imbalance in your gut. 

This is why it’s so important to address gut health- exploring the connection between the inside and what appears on the outside. Many skin conditions are linked to gut health, our skin is our body’s largest organ, it is one of the major systems by which the body expels toxins and waste and is our first line of defence against harmful bacteria and pathogens. The microbiome works with your skin to fight off pathogens, defend against environmental stressors and even produce nutrients for your skin.⁠ Just as fermented sauerkraut will boost your gut microbiome, advanced probiotic and prebiotics in supplement and skincare form can help foster a healthy skin microbiome.

Often we expect to have perfect skin, as a result of social pressures. The goal is to focus on skin health, rather than perfection.