Your skin health is a reflection of your internal health. If there's any signs of imbalance in the form of active breakouts, pimples, blemishes, so on, this can give us an indication that there's an imbalance internally and most often it's related to our gut health. Factors such as nutrition, hormones, stress, lifestyle choices can also influence your skin.
As a naturopath, investigating the root cause of imbalance(s) behind those recurrent blemishes/breakouts is crucial. Let’s delve into some of the reasons behind skin breakouts and guide you toward holistic solutions for clear and radiant skin from within.
- Gut Health
The connection between gut health and skin health is conceptualised through the lens of the gut-skin axis. This axis signifies the bidirectional communication between the gastrointestinal tract and the skin, highlighting their interconnectedness and importance in addressing both areas of health when treating skin issues. Digestive issues, particularly imbalances in the gut microbiota composition (dysbiosis) and increased intestinal permeability (leaky gut) are known to contribute to skin breakouts.
Any imbalances within the digestive system which may manifest in the form of bacterial/viral/yeast/fungi overgrowths, parasites, infections, candida essentially hinder the balance of the gut microbiome bacteria. This disruption can lead to an overgrowth of harmful microorganisms and result in a decrease of beneficial commensal bacteria, known as dysbiosis. This triggers an immune response, and activates certain inflammatory pathways, which can exacerbate skin conditions such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis which we know are characterised by chronic low-grade inflammation originating from the gut.
Hormonal fluctuations specifically around various stages of your cycle or life stage (i.e. pregnancy, menstruation, or stressful life events) can be a contributing factor to breakouts/blemishes. One of the main culprits, androgens, are a male-like hormone which is responsible for stimulating excess oil production, leading to clogged pores and the onset of acne.
High glycaemic foods, dairy, gluten, sugar, processed foods can all induce spikes in blood glucose and insulin levels, contributing to inflammation and acne. Consuming nutrient-poor foods deprived of antioxidants reduces the protection from free radicals to your skin.
Stress triggers the production of cortisol, a hormone that can increase oil production and lead to breakouts. Cortisol, a main stress hormone, has both immediate and prolonged effects on the skin. Essentially, cortisol stimulates sebaceous glands to produce more sebum (an oily substance). Overproduction of sebum can lead to clogged pores and exacerbate certain skin conditions and recurrent breakouts. Stress also disrupts the balance of your gut microbiome balance which has a direct influence on skin health through the gut-skin axis.
Your skin is the first line of defence against environmental pollutants. Exposure to air pollutants, UV radiation, dust, and synthetic skincare/makeup products can compromise your skin's barrier function, making it more susceptible to sensitivity, breakouts and inflammation.
Holistic Strategies for Clear and Radiant Skin
Holistic approaches aim to restore gut health, hormonal balance and lower stress levels in order to alleviate skin breakouts. This can involve nutritional recommendations to support a balanced gut microbiome.
- Prebiotic and probiotic-rich foods promote the growth of beneficial gut bacteria.
- Addressing potential food sensitivities or allergies that may be contributing to gut inflammation should be investigated in certain individuals
- Nutrients such as glutamine, aloe vera, slippery elm, zinc, all play a supportive role in repairing gut integrity.
- Embrace a diet rich in whole foods, colourful fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Incorporate antioxidants, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids to support skin health.
- Incorporating anti-inflammatory foods, such as omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, can help reduce systemic inflammation that may affect the skin
- Adequate hydration and sleep are also essential components of a holistic approach to managing stress and regulate hormonal fluctuations and its effects on the skin.
- Opt for natural/organic skincare products that are free from harsh chemicals
- Herbal remedies such as aloe vera, calendula, chamomile and tea tree oil can help soothe inflammation and support skin healing
If you’re looking for further support with skin health, please contact Tayla via email firstname.lastname@example.org, Instagram @curawellness.co or book in for a naturopathic consultation (Australia-wide only).