We’ve always believed that inner health and outer beauty are inseparable and that wellbeing radiates from within. Recent advances in the science of both the gut and skin microbiome are starting to shed light on just how interlinked the two are – in fact, they’re so interlinked that the term ‘gut-skin axis’ is used to describe the two. The lesser-known skin microbiome contains the highest number and diversity of microorganisms after the gut, so it’s no surprise that interactions between the two are important for skin health.
We caught up with Jess Shand, a naturopathic nutritionist and founder of Eat, Nourish + Glow, as she shares her expertise on the important link between the gut and skin microbiomes. Jess has curated two expert-led skincare and nutritional protocols to treat common skin concerns from the inside out featuring step-by-step skincare routines and recipes to nourish from within:
Read the Sensitive Skin Protocol here
"The skin is our largest organ covering around 270 square feet and it’s home to over 10 billion bacterial cells, which is approximately one million bacteria per centimetre of skin"
WHAT IS THE GUT-SKIN AXIS?
"I like to think of the skin being a mirror to the gut because of its ability to reflect what is going on internally. The intimate relationship between these organs is what we now describe as the ‘gut-skin axis’. This beauty buzzword refers to the communication between the gut and the skin, how the health of one impacts the other and shows that to successfully support the skin we must start by nourishing the gut.
WHAT IS THE SKIN MICROBIOME?
The skin microbiome is a community of trillions of microorganisms covering the skin and it plays an important part in your overall health.
Just like the gut microbiome, the skin microbiome interacts with the immune system to maintain good skin health, and it does this by preventing the growth of pathogenic bacteria (germs) found on the skin and reducing inflammation.
The skin is our largest organ covering around 270 square feet and it’s home to over 10 billion bacterial cells, which is approximately one million bacteria per centimetre of skin!
Both microbiomes have essential roles in that they act as barriers protecting against invading pathogens, they break down natural products, interact and maintain the immune system (the gut is home to almost 80% of our immune cells) and regulate systemic and local inflammation.
WHAT DOES THE SCIENCE SAY ABOUT THE GUT-SKIN AXIS?
The term ‘gut-skin axis’ was born following scientific research uncovering just how integral the role of our gut microbiome is in the health and happiness of our skin microbiome, ultimately dictating how it behaves and manifests to the outside world. Put simply, everything that affects our gut microbiome can potentially affect our skin too.
Various studies over recent years have shown that an imbalanced skin microbiome (also known as ‘skin dysbiosis’) can cause inflammatory skin conditions like acne, eczema, rosacea, and psoriasis, and is also associated with gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms.
GI complaints include constipation, diarrhoea, bloating and flatulence with research strongly suggesting these incredibly common gut disturbances play a significant role in the development of inflammatory skin conditions through the release of chemical messengers into the blood.
One study in people with psoriasis found that following a healthy Mediterranean diet was associated with reduced gastrointestinal symptoms1.
This undeniable connection – the gut-skin axis – goes beyond inflammatory skin conditions too. Evidence shows eating a whole-food plant-focused diet might also slow down the visible effects of ageing2 – another way that inflammation manifests itself on the skin.
This is an exciting area of ongoing research with promising potential in the prevention and management of skin conditions. It’s a topic I feel incredibly passionate about and shows that beautiful, glowing and most importantly, healthy skin, really does come from within. A holistic approach combining a plant-focused, nourishing diet and targeted natural skincare is fundamental and has the power to be transformative when it comes to skin health."
Discover Jess Shand’s expert-led skincare and nutritional protocols for common skin concerns: