Your skin is your largest organ and if you’re reading this article, you’re already probably trying to take pretty good care of it. But you might want to look to another organ, your gut, to help your skin look it’s best. While there has been controversy over the years whether diet can affect our skin or not, there has been more research to indicate that our gut may play a pivotal role in our complexion. “There is enough supportive evidence to suggest that gut microbes are a contributing factor to the acne process,” says N.Y.C dermatologist Shereene Idriss. Think of it like a wall, if it’s solid, nothing can pass through the lining. If it’s patchy, toxins can enter your bloodstream. “When your gut microbiome is altered, this could lead to intestinal permeability and subsequent systemic inflammation. As a result, your skin reacts with inflammatory acne and break outs,” says she. The strength of the gut lining is vital, “it’s the barrier from toxins and pro-inflammatory triggers,” says Raj. What can cause some to have a weak lining while others might have a totally healthy system? “There are some thoughts that pro-inflammatory foods (like dairy or fried foods) might cause weakening of the gut lining but we’re not totally sure,” says Raj. She adds, “there are also medical conditions that can make the gut leaky like Crohns Disease. I’ve noticed some of my patients with gut issues can also suffer from skin issues like acne,” says Raj.
What You Can Do
So how do you strengthen a gut lining? You can’t just do a set of pushups to create a more resilient microbiome and gut flora. When ingested, probiotics help promote a healthy level of good bacteria in your gut, which in turn creates a solid barrier that prevents a leaky gut and reduces overall permeability and systemic inflammation. “It is becoming a growing trend, and with merit, to combine oral probiotic supplements with traditional acne medications to aid in the treatment process,” says Idriss.
While it’s best to see your doctor for any underlying medical issues, Raj says “probiotics can help with a variety of issues, like helping to reduce inflammation which can then promote less breakouts and redness.” Try a daily probiotic supplement which contains strains of lacotbacilli or bifidiobacterium, “they seem to be the most beneficial strains as these particular bacteria help strengthen the gut lining,” says Raj. A variety of yogurt blends also contain live strains. Probiotics aren’t just for your tummy either. Now, a variety of brands offer topical formulations with probiotics. “When applied on your skin, probiotics release lactic acid, reducing the overall pH of your skin,” says Idriss. Applying lotions or serums with probiotics acidify your skin, which “limits the growth of harmful bacteria and stimulate your immune system to help fight inflammation,” says Idriss.
You may have also heard some buzz over “prebiotics,” consider it the fuel for probiotics. “It’s just foods that help feed and sustain that healthy bacteria, says Raj. To get your dose, reach for fiber rich foods, “it’s great for your bodies in many ways and it also helps multiply the growth of that healthy bacteria,” says Raj. A diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods can help keep your gut lining in its best shape. Reduce the amounts of processed foods and pro-inflammatory foods like refined carbs and dairy and incorporating more of a Mediterranean diet (including things like tomatoes, olive oil, salmon) and fiber rich foods.
WATCH NOW: 5 Causes of Acne that Will Change the Way You Treat It