Poor Digestion And Skin Problems – The Skin-Gut Connection


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by | Dec 7, 2022

I’m writing this blog with my skin in bits! Literally! My face looks bloated, my eyes are swollen and my face is dry, tight and flaking off in bits! That’s because the skin is a great barometer of what’s going on in the body, and in my case, I know I’ve eaten something I shouldn’t have. Researchers, practitioners and the general population alike are starting to notice a connection between poor digestion and skin problems.

Poor Digestion And Skin Problems – How Do They Link?

It’s not just me, more and more of us are experiencing similar occurrences like mine when it comes to skin health. At least that’s what I hear and see in my patients. But when the gut goes awry, why does it affect our skin?

Environmental toxins can cause inflammation in the gut. This inflammation temporarily damages the gut lining, creating spaces between the cells along the length of the intestine. This lining moderates what your body allows into the bloodstream and when its cells are damaged it can’t do this properly. This is commonly known as a ‘leaky gut’ and it might be a key link between poor digestion and skin problems. 

This doesn’t mean that fluid is actually leaking from your intestines! It simply refers to the fact that toxins and other inflammatory proteins in what we ingest can get into the bloodstream. When they do, they can move around the body, causing inflammation and damage elsewhere. 

According to Salem et al., science is slowly learning the important role the gut has in relation to our skin, as well as our mental health and immune system. In fact, scientists have proven the link between gut health and conditions like eczema, rosacea and acne already!

Processed Foods

Some processed foods are so far removed from nature that your body sees them as toxins and not actual foods! This results in poor digestion and skin problems! For me, it seems to be maltodextrin, a highly refined carbohydrate used to thicken sauces or sweeten foods. At the weekend I unwittingly had gammon, a highly processed meat, that usually contains it – my skin today is the result!

Of course, I should have been more careful, but when you’re having a good time at your Christmas dinner, you simply can’t resist some tasty food! If you experience skin reactions, you may find that it’s something else that sets you off, so going on an elimination diet and recording how you react to certain foods might help you determine if it is your gut that is causing your skin to flare.

What Can You Do To Avoid Poor Digestion And Skin Problems? 

First things first, I’ll give you some common skin-gut irritants:

  • Alcohol
  • Spicy foods
  • Citrus
  • Dairy
  • Sugar
  • Wheat gluten
  • Ultra-processed foods, especially fatty junk food

These may be things to consider cutting out if you try an elimination diet!

The skin-gut axis isn’t something I need to be told about, I see the evidence of it every day in my clinic. In fact, some of my patients are unaware that their diet is affecting their skin. Look out for rashes, breakouts, redness, dryness and inflammation and/or skin that looks haggard and tends to age more quickly. Any of these symptoms could be a sign of the link between poor digestion and skin problems. 

So, as well as possibly reducing/cutting out one/some/all of the above, I have some more pieces of advice for you!

Avoid processed foods – That means any food that’s not in its natural form.

Eat a wide variety of plant-based foods – Try playing the royal variety game! Place a sheet of paper on your fridge door and give yourself a point for every plant you eat. For example, a banana is one point, a cup of rice or the equivalent is one point, a pepper another and so on. Aim for 40 points per week – It’s also a healthy thing to get the kids and your partner involved in!

Avoid alcohol as much as possible – As well as the empty calories and hangover, alcohol can contribute to poor digestion and skin problems. 

Eat plenty of onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus, oats and apples – These fibre-rich options provide food for your gut bacteria to thrive. If you’re not a fan of any of these you can resort to taking a prebiotic supplement.

When taking antibiotics, take them with a probiotic – These are live cultures of bacteria and fantastic for your gut health.

Looking For Help With Your Skin Health?

If you are looking for help with your skin health you’re in the right place! We can help you glow from the inside out! So, why not book a consultation with us today?

You can also learn more about me and the team and the procedures that we offer on our website. And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more beauty tips and tricks!


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Anti-ageing & Skincare Treatments
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