How your gut and liver impact the health of your skin.
We all know how radiant and clear our skin can be after we embark on a cleanse! The reason these cleanses and detoxes tend to work so well, is because of the impact our gut and liver have on our skin. Not only do they both dictate clearance of hormones and toxins, they are also key regulators of blood sugar and inflammation, all of which when are out of kilter can impact our skin (and vitality) in a very significant way!
Below we delve into the connection between the health of your gut and liver on your skin radiance.
The skin-gut connection
The human gut is made up of ten trillion bugs - bacteria, viruses and fungi, which weigh over one kilo and outnumber human cells in your body by a ratio of over 10:1. When you consider this, there is definitely no underestimating the importance of looking after your digestive system and the inner gut microbiome. More and more evidence has been showing the intricate link between our microbiota and our health including our immunity, our predisposition to inflammatory disease and our brain function, along with our mood and our skin.
Before we delve into the importance of a healthy gut for radiant skin, it is important to understand how the ecosystem of microbes in our digestive system function. A healthy gut contains a spectrum of microbial species, with those known as Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes accounting for more than 90% of all your gut microbes. When this bacterial ecosystem is upset it results in “dysbiosis”. This is an imbalance of the species of microbes in your gut which occurs when Firmicutes outnumber Bacteroidetes.
The result is everything from decreased immunity, sluggish metabolism, a decrease in the synthesis of feel-good hormone serotonin and an increase in inflammation, allergies, and an imbalance of hormones.
For your skin this can mean:
- A predisposition to acne;
- Skin redness;
- Eczema; and
- Accelerated ageing.
When there is an upset balance of microbes in the gut, inflammation and mal digestion quickly follow. This leads to low energy, wreaks digestive havoc (bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, flatulence and other unwanted symptoms), and also means you are not absorbing all of the nutrients from your food, which are critical to nourishing your body, maintaining your energy and are essential for an inside-out glow.
Having an imbalance of gut flora, or a “leaky gut” results in certain proteins penetrating through the gut wall, which is normally intact. This can disrupt the gut microbiome in the skin, creating inflammation along with:
- An increase in skin sensitivity along with conditions such as eczema and rosacea.
- A decrease in the integrity and the protective function of the skin barrier leading to accelerated ageing and a lack of skin firmness.
- An imbalance of hormone clearance resulting in increased sebum production which is directly linked to acne.
An unhealthy gut can result in maldigestion and the malabsorption of proteins, fats, and carbs, as well as vitamins. SIBO can lead to nutritional deficiencies including vitamin B12, as well as vitamins A, D, E, and K (fat-soluble vitamins) which are all critical for optimal skin health and overall good health. Expect accelerated ageing, a decrease in collagen production, and a weak and sagging skin barrier!
Reduced Toxin Clearance
An overgrowth of bad bacteria, yeast and fungi fed by processed and sugary
foods along with a lack of fibre results in a build-up of toxins in the gut. This ultimately leads to increased load on the liver and a reduction of hormone and debris clearance which ultimately results in toxins leaking through into the skin, which manifests as skin eruptions and breakouts.
How to Achieve Radiant Skin via a Healthy Gut
As a naturopath, I was wanting to design a product that would assist my customers in achieving a balance of good and bad bacteria in their gut whilst also calming the inflammation and bloating which can come with gut dysbiosis.
My approach does not rely on probiotics which provide untargeted strains of microbes to your gut which may not be required or on prebiotics which can fuel unwanted strains of microbes.
Rather, the focus is on calming the inflammation which tends to come hand in hand with an unhealthy gut, whilst improving and restoring the gut lining, improving digestion and providing an abundance of antioxidants to reduce free radical damage and support the liver and gut at the same time. The herbs and nutrients included are:
- Chamomile: used traditionally in Western herbal medicine to reduce indigestion and bloating, chamomile is ultra-calming to the gut and one of my favourite herbs for addressing Irritable Bowel Syndrome. It also contains anti-inflammatory, anti-androgen and anti-microbial properties which makes it a unique herb in helping our skin, gut and hormones at the same time.
- Glutamine: this amino acid is our go-to nutrient for restoring the gut lining. It has been clinically proven to positively impact the balance of Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes, leading to improved gut microbe balance.
- Aloe Vera:
- Slippery Elm: derived from the bark of the elm tree, this food is a demulcent which means that it has a powerful ability to soothe the lining of the stomachand intestines and reducing irritation. It is particularly helpful in my practice for clients with heartburn, reflux and digestive concerns.
- Aloe Vera: derived from the leaf of the Aloe plant, this food has been traditionally used to restore and soothe the gut. It contains compounds known as anthraquinones which help to improve digestion and peristalsis, removing stagnation in the gut. Healthy clearance of the gut is required to keep our gut microbes balanced and reduce the growth of yeast and “bad” bacteria.
- Bromelain: a unique enzyme for improving digestion and reducing inflammation, this enzyme is particularly useful for breaking down food and absorbing our beauty nutrients.
Read my post here for ten steps to achieving clear and radiant skin, by looking after your gut.
The skin-liver connection
In the naturopath world, keeping your liver healthy is just as important as cleansing your face every day when it comes to a clear and glowing complexion.
When our gut is out of balance our liver tends to become overloaded, with more toxins and excess hormones to clear. The mechanism through which this works starts off with a leaky gut. This condition allows larger molecules than normal into the circulation, creating a chain reaction that eventually results in inflammation in the liver.
This process is further exacerbated because there is a direct route from the GI tract to the liver: the portal vein. This portal vein allows undesirable content in the gut to be deposited directly into the liver. The key by-products of the gut bacteria that contribute to fatty liver are called lipopolysaccharides which contribute to further inflammation and insulin resistance. This can of course lead to the hormonal acne that comes hand in hand with PCOS.
For more information on the health of the liver, read our blog post here.
Inner Essentials Reset Bundle – for optimal gut, liver and skin health.
The combination of powerful herbs and antioxidants in this bundle work to naturally clear acne and breakouts, boost the skin's natural collagen production and repair processes whilst assisting the skin and liver's detoxification processes.
This bundle will support:
- Liver cleansing and detoxification processes;
- Clearing breakouts and acne;
- Digestion and gut health; and
- Natural collagen production.
Supporting your gut and liver whilst providing your body with an abundance of antioxidants is the key to balancing hormones and blood sugar levels, clearing excess toxins and hormones, and dictating how well your skin is absorbing the beauty-boosting vitamins you are ingesting.
The result? Clear, radiant and beautiful skin with the bonus of improved energy, vitality, digestion and a healthy immune system.
Shop the Inner Essentials Skin Reset Bundle here.