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Want glowing skin? Start with the gut

Posted by Nic Florido on 19th Aug 2021

While completing my beauty therapy studies, I knew that there was something seriously missing in my knowledge. After a little research, education and soul searching, I realised just how important the Gut-Skin connection was: that without good health and proper nutrition, it is impossible to have beautiful, healthy skin. This is when I embarked on my wellness journey and married my knowledge of skin with health sciences, nutrition and herbal medicine. It’s true what they say: beauty starts on the inside.

The skin is the largest and one of the most important organs of the body as it forms a barrier to our insides, protecting our heart, head and limbs from the outside world. Think of a baby as an embryo or a chick in an egg. It’s our first line of defence to the external environment. If we don’t take care of our skin, we can compromise it’s special immune functions as well as it’s barrier function.

We know our gut plays a huge role in how we feel on the inside, but what about how we look on the outside? Funnily enough, your gut can also affect your skin. From hormones to diet and nutrition, the skin is an outwards reflection of what’s happening within.

Think about the last time you felt really stressed, sleep deprived or sad. You probably took one look in the mirror and noticed that your skin looked a little lack-lustre. On the flip side, think about how you look when you’re happy, healthy and eating well. You’re glowing, right? That’s your skin health in action and surprise, surprise, a clear, supple complexion starts in the gut.

Research has proven that when your microbiome is out of balance and is being overrun with bad bacteria, it can lead to inflammation. This inflammation can cause common skin conditions like acne, redness, sensitivity and reduced collagen production (the protein that helps your skin stay soft and healthy).

What’s the deal with probiotics and skin?

Probiotics are live microorganisms that help to improve gut health and overall well-being by re-populating the gastrointestinal tract (aka your microbiome) with healthy bacteria. The more beneficial bacteria we have, the less likely we are to see skin conditions like eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis, rosacea and acne rearing their head.

Probiotics can boost the skin’s production of ceramides (fats that trap moisture in the skin) and keep acne-causing bacteria levels in check. Our skin pH increases with age, making it drier and allowing more ‘bad’ bacteria to grow. Probiotics feed healthy bacteria to balance the skin’s pH and protect against free radical damage (say goodbye to acne and wrinkles!).

So, can probiotics really help with skin conditions?

The short answer is yes! Probiotics have multiple beneficial qualities to help treat common skin issues including:

Calms internal inflammation

Taking probiotics is your best bet to keep the gut lining working properly. There are acne-causing bacteria that can promote inflammation in the skin, but a healthy dose of probiotics can help keep acne at bay.

Protects the skin from environmental damage

Fighting off sources of irritation and infection is easier with probiotics. Probiotics can fend off bad bacteria in the gut and help fight harmful bugs from triggering that inflammation in the first place.

Strengthens the skin’s natural moisture barrier

If you’ve gone a bit too hard with scrubbing and cleansing, you might have weakened your skin’s natural moisture barrier. Probiotics can help restore the skin’s natural barrier function, which is vital to banishing redness, sensitivity, breakouts, and irritation.

Put simply, probiotics, and more generally, a healthy balanced gut, are both critical factors in maintaining healthy, glowing skin.

Treat your gut well, and it will reward you right back

The best way to achieve glowing skin is to take a look at your lifestyle. A diet high in natural, probiotic-rich and antioxidant-rich wholefoods and low in processed and artificial ingredients is your best place to start.

Vaia Pappas

Vaia Pappas, founder of the award-winning Vaia Beauty is one of Sydney's most well-known skincare gurus, with 20+ years' experience in herbal medicine and health sciences.