How Does Gut Health Affect Your Skin?

Internal Wellness

The symbiotic relationship between gut health and skin

In the evolving landscape of wellness and beauty, the intricate – and in many ways, symbiotic - link between gut health and skin health has emerged as a pivotal area of interest for many. This connection, deeply rooted in the science of our body's internal mechanisms and functions, sheds light on how the equilibrium of our gut microbiome can have profound effects on our skin's appearance and overall health. Understanding the symbiotic relationship between gut bacteria and skin health offers a holistic approach to achieving a radiant complexion, underpinning the adage that true beauty begins from within.

The Essential Link Between Gut Bacteria and Skin Health

The concept of gut health encompasses the balance and function of bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. This complex ecosystem, comprising diverse communities of microorganisms including trillions of bacteria, fungi and viruses. This microbiome plays a critical role in digestionimmune function, and even influences mood and mental health. Similarly, the skin hosts its own unique microbiome, acting as the body's first line of defence against external aggressors, regulating immunity, barrier maintenance and healing. The interconnectedness of skin and gut health lies in what is called ‘the gut-skin axis’: a bidirectional communication pathway through which the gut and the skin influence each other's condition and function. This pathway is regulated through several mechanisms such as immunity and inflammatory mediators, fatty acid metabolites, hormones and stress chemicals.

Does Gut Health Affect Skin?

Scientific research underscores a resounding yes! Imbalances in gut bacteria, known as dysbiosis, can manifest externally, contributing to a myriad of skin conditions such as acneeczemarosacea, psoriasis, dermatitis and even premature ageing. We discuss these conditions in greater detail in our blog: Is Your Diet Inflaming Your Sensitive Skin or Rosacea? The mechanisms through which gut health impacts skin include:

  • Inflammation: A dysbiotic gut can trigger systemic inflammation, exacerbating skin conditions characterised by inflammation, such as acne, psoriasis, rosacea, and eczema. 
  • Barrier Function: Gut health influences the integrity of the gut and skin barriers. A compromised gut barrier may lead to increased intestinal permeability, often referred to as "leaky gut," allowing toxins, microbes, and undigested food particles to enter the bloodstream and potentially contribute to skin inflammation and sensitivity. Leaky gut can cause the immune system to go into overdrive as it tries to fight off the invading substances leaking from the gut. This can lead to inflammation throughout the body, including the skin. 
  • Immune System Regulation: The gut microbiome plays a crucial role in immune system modulation. An imbalance in gut bacteria and leaky gut can lead to an overactive immune response, affecting the skin's immune environment as the inflammatory molecules travel to the skin via the bloodstream.

How to Improve Gut Health for Skin?

Improving gut health for skin rejuvenation involves a multifaceted approach, focusing on nutrition, lifestyle, and possibly supplementation, to nurture the gut microbiome's balance and functionality. For a much richer information deep-dive, read our blog on Detoxing Your Skin the Right Way, but for now, here are the fundamentals:

  • Incorporate Prebiotic, Probiotic and Postbiotic Foods: Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that can help restore and replenish balance to the gut microbiome. Postbiotics are also present in the probiotic fermented foods. Postbiotics are the beneficial metabolites that the good bacteria produce (such as essential short chain fatty acids and lactic acid) Fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut are rich in probiotics and postbiotics. Prebiotics are indigestible fibres that feed these beneficial bacteria. They act as 'fertiliser' for the good bacteria in the gut and help to improve digestion, promote a healthy immune system and reduce inflammation. Prebiotic rich foods include garlic, onions, chicory root, bananas, asparagus, and leeks.
  • Maintain a Diverse and Nutrient-Rich Diet: A diet abundant in various fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can support a diverse and healthy gut microbiome. These foods provide essential nutrients and antioxidants that can reduce inflammation and support both gut and skin health. 
  • Stay Hydrated: Adequate water intake is vital for maintaining gut barrier integrity and facilitating the elimination of toxins, which can positively impact skin clarity and hydration.
  • Limit Inflammatory Foods: Reducing the intake of foods known to cause inflammation or gut dysbiosis, such as refined sugars and carbohydrates, processed foods, and excessive alcohol, can improve both gut health and skin appearance. We go into even further detail on skin-friendly diets in our blog: Eat Well for Great Skin.
  • Consider Gut-Health Supplements: Supplements such as prebiotic fire, , omega-3 fatty acids, probiotics and postbiotics  can support gut health. However, it's essential to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen.

How to Improve Gut Health for Clear Skin?

Achieving clear skin through gut health enhancement entails not only addressing dietary factors but also considering lifestyle modifications that can impact the gut microbiome.


  • Manage Stress: Chronic stress can negatively affect gut health by altering gut bacteria. The inflammatory messengers and hormones produced can negatively impact the skin barrier function. Techniques such as meditation, yoga, and adequate sleep can help manage stress levels and improve skin clarity.
  • Exercise Regularly: Regular physical activity will enhance blood flow, promote microbiome diversity, and reduce inflammation. This can enhance gut bacteria diversity and, in turn, support skin health.
  • Avoid Overuse of Antibiotics: While sometimes necessary, antibiotics can disrupt the gut and skin microbiome. They destroy both the harmful and the beneficial bacteria, may slow skin healing and can also make the skin more susceptible to overgrowth of fungus on the skin. Overuse of antibiotics can also contribute to the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria, which may be challenging to treat future skin infections. Use them judiciously and always under the guidance of a healthcare provider.

The Path to Radiant Skin Through Gut Health

The journey to improving gut health for skin vitality is a personal one, as each individual's gut microbiome is unique. Embarking on this path requires patience, consistency, and usually the guidance of healthcare professionals, including dermatologists, skin professionals and nutritionists, to tailor a plan that meets your specific needs.

As we continue to unravel the complexities of the gut-skin connection, it becomes increasingly clear that achieving glowing, healthy skin is as much about nurturing our internal health as it is about external skincare routines. These two systems work in perfect synergy (pun intended). In embracing this holistic view, we empower ourselves to make informed choices about our diet, lifestyle, and skincare practices, paving the way for not only improved skin health but overall well-being.

Can Maintaining Our Skin Improve Gut Health?

So what about the reverse direction? As you have rightly assumed, the relationship between gut health and skin health is primarily seen as a one-way street, with the former significantly impacting the latter. This perspective is grounded in numerous studies highlighting how imbalances in gut microbiota can affect skin conditions due to factors like inflammation and immune response, as we have just recently outlined. The reverse—how maintaining skin health could positively impact gut health—is less studied and not as well-documented in scientific literature. But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth considering.

Given the skin is our largest organ in the body in terms of total weight, supporting the skin's barrier function, and reducing systemic inflammation will likely have an indirect benefit the body’s overall health, including the gut. For example, healthy skin can prevent the entry of pathogens that might otherwise end up in the gut. However, it is important to distinguish that this indirect benefit is not the same as saying that improving skin health directly improves gut health in the way that improving gut health can directly benefit the skin. Scientists believe that immune modulating chemicals and postbiotic metabolites from the skin may enter the bloodstream and indirectly influence the gut microbiome. Regardless, the interplay between gut and skin health is complex and remains a fascinating area for ongoing research, highlighting the importance of a holistic approach to health and wellness that considers the interconnectedness of all bodily systems.

In Conclusion

The complex relationship between gut health and skin illuminates the profound impact of our internal ecosystem on our external appearance. By fostering a harmonious gut microbiome through mindful dietary and lifestyle choices, we can move towards an optimal, radiant, and clear complexion. In the realm of beauty and wellness, the path to luminous skin is increasingly recognised as a journey inward.

[Disclaimer: Please note that the information provided is for educational purposes only and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Always consult a healthcare professional for personalised recommendations regarding your skin health.]