The gut microbiome describes the trillions of bacteria, fungi, and viruses (collectively called microorganisms or microbes) that live inside the intestines. The gut microbiome is the brain’s most trusted advisor. The gastrointestinal tract is lined with millions of nerve cells called the enteric nervous system (ENS). Through these millions of nerves the gut is physically connected to the brain. The ENS sends your brain messages about the body’s health and the brain sends out an appropriate response. So if your gut feels good, your mind and body will feel good too. Good gut health contributes to overall health and well-being.
When it comes to the health of your gut, the more diverse species of good bacteria you carry, the better. The average person has anywhere from 300-500 different species of bacteria in the digestive tract. Nothing in your body escapes the scrutiny of the gut microbiome. It works to facilitate digestion, absorb nutrients from food, regulate hormones, regulate mood and mental health, and affect the central nervous system.
The most current research into the gut microbiome suggests that the gut microbiome is responsible for regulating the immune system and immune responses, which means that an imbalanced population of bacteria in the gut can trigger autoimmune disorders, skin conditions, and inflammatory reactions. This is a relatively new field of study, and more research is necessary to conclusively define the link between the gut microbiome and skin conditions.
The Gut-Skin Axis
The term used to describe the complex relationship between the gut and skin is called the gut-skin axis. Increasingly, researchers believe the gut microbiome affects skin health in the following ways:
- An imbalance or overgrowth of bacteria in the gut is linked to inflammatory skin conditions like rosacea, eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, and acne. Studies show that people with rosacea have a higher incidence of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) than healthy people.
- People who have gastrointestinal disorders like irritable bowel disease (IBD), celiac disease, and Crohn’s disease are more likely to experience skin manifestations. For example, people with Crohn’s disease have a higher incidence of psoriasis than healthy people.
- Research indicates that stress and inflammation in the gut can cause skin inflammation, infections, breakouts, and redness.
The balance of bacteria in the gut microbiome can be affected by multiple factors, including diet, sleep, stress, and antibiotic use. High levels of stress, inadequate sleep, and a highly processed diet can upset the microbiome and create less gut diversity and more inflammation. This in turn can lead increased episodes of skin irritations like eczema, acne, and atopic dermatitis.
How to Increase Good Bacteria in the Gut
Diet can have a significant effect on the health of the gut microbiome. Probiotics have been found to help restore the diversity of the gut microbiome, reduce inflammation, and even control inflammatory skin conditions like psoriasis. Foods like yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, and kefir contain probiotics that feed the good bacteria in the gut.
A high-fiber diet also contributes to a healthy gut microbiome. Foods like apples, raspberries, broccoli, green peas, oats, and beans have plenty of fiber, which has anti-inflammatory properties. Garlic, asparagus, bananas, and barley are high-fiber foods with prebiotics, a type of dietary fiber that feeds good bacteria in the gut.
Outside of maintaining a diet full of nutrient-rich whole foods, you can increase good bacteria in the gut by:
- Limiting your intake of high-sugar, processed foods and drinks
- Lowering your stress levels
- Exercising regularly
- Sleeping for seven to eight hours every night
- Taking prebiotic and probiotic supplements if you aren’t getting them in your diet
Schedule a Consultation With Florida Dermatology and Skin Cancer Centers
At Florida Dermatology and Skin Cancer Centers, our medical professionals are experts in the field of hair, nail, and skin conditions. We can accurately diagnosis your skin condition and help determine the best treatment plan for your needs. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.