It’s the time of year where our skin is already taking a bit of a battering: the cold weather; lack of Vitamin D and cravings for stodgy, comforting food can all play a part in flaky, dry skin that lots of us suffer from. This past few months I’ve been battling this- even though my skin is usually really well behaved. As many of you know, I am finishing my qualification in Nutritional Therapy and I’ve been learning how the gut can also be very closely linked to the skin and the many autoimmune conditions that involve it: such as Psoriasis and Eczema. Today, I thought I’d share this in a bit more detail and offer some tips on how to help these issues.
How is the Gut Linked To Skin Issues?
There are several ways your gut is linked to skin issues. Firstly, if you have one autoimmune condition such as Crohn’s disease and coeliac disease, you are more likely to have another- for example up to 11% of Americans with IBD have Psoriasis (compared to a general average of 2%) (this article explains a bit more about what is psoriasis) and Eczema is also common in patients.If the immune system is impaired, it makes sense that you are more prone to more than one condition in which the immune system isn’t functioning as it should. These conditions can also be made better or worsened by IBD medication.
Putting the immune system aside for a second, many people with gut issues (whether IBD or IBS) may notice that their gut issues flare up around the same time their skin is also acting up so even if you don’t suffer with a skin condition, you may notice it changes with your gut symptoms. This can be due to an imbalance in the gut bacteria-there’s more and more studies suggesting our gut bacteria is linked to all parts of the body; after all 80% of our immune system is in the gut so it’s no surprise everything is linked. Another possible link is ‘detox’ pathways- as you know I use the term ‘detox’ very loosely- but as I mentioned in my free detox e-course post that the skin and gut are both ways the body detoxes itself naturally. If your gut isn’t able to effectively get rid of waste or deal with toxins, then these can then travel to another elimination pathway and come out through the skin instead. For example, a recent study found that 13,000 acne sufferers were more likely to suffer, with constipation and bloating- suggesting that the detox pathway and bacteria of those individuals guts are more likely to be imbalanced. A final reason is that if our body is not able to absorb nutrients as well as they can, then the antioxidants in them which support the skin- can also struggle to get to the right place.
My Top Tips In Dealing With Problem Skin (Which Might Help Your Gut Too!)
1.Take a high-quality Omega 3 supplement. Omega 3 is crucial in battling inflammation in fact a study found that cells from a person who took Omega 3 supplement had much lower levels of inflammation than those who didn’t. Therefore, Omega 3 can help eczema, psoriasis and of course inflammatory bowel disease and general inflammation. If you’re vegan, Flaxseed oil can be useful instead. You can also consider food sources of Omegas- this Psorasis friendly Christmas dinner gives lots of tips of getting Omegas into your diet. Remember, if using fish make sure it’s wild caught if possible (to ensure the Omega 3 levels are as high a possible)
2. Consider Dairy. One thing I’ve learnt is that those who have gut and skin issues, may have problems with dairy. I explain how dairy can impact your gut in this blog post. but it is also linked to skin issues- since it can offer produce inflammation and clog pores.
3. Get tested for Vitamin D deficiency. Vit D deficiency is extremely common; even more so for those with gut issues and IBD -as it plays a big part in immune system health. If you’re skin issues are worse in winter months, consider asking your doctor for a Vit D test. Many people with Eczema and Psorasis are also found to have low VitD issues.
I hope you find this post helpful- if you have any more tips on improving your skin and gut health, please leave them below
This is a collaborative post.