Tired of dry, itchy, irritated and inflamed skin? Oh, the joys of winter! While there are lots we can slather on our skin to potentially help make things better, the truth is that healthy skin starts from within! After all, the skin, which is our single largest organ is a reflection of what's going on inside of the body, including our gut microbiome. And while the dry conditions of winter may be making your skin issues appear worse, understanding the link between the skin and gut is a great place to begin your healing.
Dry Skin & “Leaky Gut”
Although the gut-skin connection may appear to be a new phenomenon, this is not the case at all. Hippocrates (the father of modern medicine), made the connection thousands of years ago, and if you look back to the early 1900s, intestinal health was held in high regard with clear linkages between bowel health and eczema, dermatitis and rosacea. However, despite the break in the scientific research, nowadays we're well aware of the need for a healthy intestinal tract as we now know the negative effects of a compromised intestinal barrier.
A healthy intestinal lining is one where the vast and diverse bacteria create a film like a barrier along the inside wall. This helps to maintain its semi-permeability and allows for the optimal and selective absorption of nutrients.
When intestinal dysbiosis occurs, meaning the bacteria fall out of balance as a result of poor diet and lifestyle choices, it impacts the integrity of the intestinal barrier and may cause what is known as ‘leaky gut’. Leaky gut results in unwanted particles and toxins passing through the intestinal lining into the bloodstream - which then leads to the immune system setting off alarm bells. The resulting release of molecules known as ‘cytokines’ lead to a chronic state of inflammation in the body. Because inflammation is already at the root of most skin conditions, this exacerbates them!
Eczema & Gut Health
One of the most common skin ailments and one that many of us are familiar with is eczema. Eczema, also sometimes referred to as "atopic dermatitis", is defined as being a chronic inflammatory skin disease with symptoms that often include dry, flakey, itchy, red or cracked skin - and it often presents worse during the winter season.
Its increased prevalence in both children and adults have brought it to the forefront as an area for scientific research. Looking deeper to the root causes reveal links to the immune system including imbalanced intestinal flora, leaky gut, food allergies, environmental pollutants, and microbial and inhaled allergens1. Clinical studies, like this one, look toward using probiotics as a treatment for the common dermatologic condition, Hand Dermatitis (or hand eczema) which presents as lesions, scaling, pruritus (severe itching) and pain. The promising results of the study, with the majority (86%) showing improvements2, only lends credence to the importance of advancing the study of the gut microbiome and its links to the skin!
A Holistic Approach to Healthy Skin - Natural Skin Care
Whether you’re struggling with eczema or any other troubling skin condition this winter, taking an inside out approach begins with eating a healing, anti-inflammatory diet in order to reduce any symptoms of intestinal permeability, along with ensuring the gut microbiome is provided with the prebiotics and probiotics it requires to thrive.
Limiting processed foods, sugar, GMO’s or any other foods that may cause sensitivities (gluten, lectins, conventional dairy, FODMAPS etc.) might be at the heart of making sure no further damage to the intestinal lining is done. Secondly, adding in the healing nutrients (Vitamin D, Omega 3, Zinc, L-Glutamine) in order to restore and repair the intestinal lining, along with maintaining a lifestyle filled with plenty of hydration, rest, nature and exercise is all essential for reducing the systemic inflammation that lies at the root of your skin conditions.
Further, re-inoculating the intestinal microflora in order to rebalance the eco-system requires a multi-faceted approach. This includes the beneficial bacteria found in fermented foods (kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, tempeh), specific types of soluble and insoluble prebiotic plant fibers (oatmeal, apples, onions, garlic) and a high-quality, multi-strain probiotic supplement, such as Bio-K+.
The gut microbiome thrives when it’s colonized with a variety of complimentary (non-competing) bacteria. Within both drinkables and capsules products, Bio-K+ contains 3 different research-backed and patented strains of bacteria (L. acidophilus CL1285®, L. casei LBC80R®, and L. rhamnosus CLR2®) which have been rigorously studied to show how they work synergistically. This demonstrates the importance of choosing a probiotic with finished-product research available because it outlines how the strains will actually work together in order to benefit your gut microbiome health, and your overall health.
When we can take control of our intestinal health, regain the integrity of the gut barrier and improve the gut microbiome using dietary and lifestyle approaches, the result is a reduced immune response, less inflammation and healthier, more vibrant skin - in addition to better health overall!
Do you have any other questions about gut health? Ask us in the comments below. If you are looking to stock up on Bio-K+, head to our store locator. For more information on Bio-K+, probiotics and digestive health, contact us, find us on Facebook and Instagram or join our community.
- Elizabeth Lipski. (2011). Digestive Wellness: Strengthen the Immune System and Prevent Disease Through Healthy Digestion, Fourth Edition. McGraw Hill Professional.