Gut instinct: the surprising link between the skin and your internal bacteria



The secrets of the skin can seem highly mysterious: especially when we’re looking to solve and soothe challenging skin. What causes acne? Why do we get rosacea? What triggers skin reactions? Not only are we eager to find answers to these skin dilemmas, but they are also hot topics in the world of skin research.


Skin experts, including our specialists at the Advanced Nutrition Programme™, have a strong understanding of some aspects of the conditions, but new and exciting discoveries are being made all the time. One area exploring the mysteries behind the skin is research into the human microbiome: the array of microorganisms – including bacteria – that live in and on our bodies. Innovative studies have indicated that the health and function of bacteria that populates our bodies is closely intertwined with certain skin conditions. The skin microbiome acts as a barrier to protect the skin from the outside, and bacteria in the gut microbiome works from the inside out – supporting immunity and regulating skin from within. Problems can arise when the delicate balance of the microbiome is disrupted – something which happens surprisingly easily. If you have ever been prescribed antibiotics, you’ll know that an unhappy gut can be a slightly unpleasant side-effect. This is because antibiotics kill off all the bacteria in their path – both the good and the bad – essentially wiping the gut clean. Some other medications, poor diet and stress can all also upset your body’s bacteria balance. Specific strains of bacteria, or an imbalance in bacteria levels can be more prevalent in those with challenges such as problem-prone skin, or those with fragile, reactive or dry skin.


The evidence

The precise nature of the link between the gut microbiome and the skin may not fully be understood, but as it evolves, innovative methods seeking to enhance skin health via the microbiome are appearing. Several studies have shown promising evidence that orally taken bacteria or probiotics can help repopulate the bacteria strains in the gut, and subsequently have a positive impact on skin. In a double-blind study of 139 acne sufferers, participants were given a probiotic bacteria supplement or placebo treatment for five months. A physician rated 74.3% of those receiving the probiotic as showing very good or good improvements, with just 21.7% of the placebo group achieving the same results. With more study, who knows what skin benefits scientists might be able to discover.


Where next?

The field is still evolving, and as researchers uncover the precise nature of the gut/skin collection, the developments likely teach us more about the foundations of skin health. More research into the connections between acne, rosacea and the gut microbiome may even hold the potential to revolutionise treatments, making probiotics and skin-friendly bacteria a skin essential. One way to help support is the importance of maintaining a balanced biome for general health and wellbeing. No matter your choice of diet or supplement, nurturing a healthy gut is one way to support the skin and the body.