Trusting Your Gut — The Hidden Links Between Your Stomach and Your Skin

News You Can Use
3 min readFeb 29, 2024

By Dr. Donna Powell & Dr. Renee M. Marchioni Beery

The human gut is home to billions of tiny microorganisms, collectively called the gut microbiome. These include bacteria, viruses, fungi and other microbes working together in a delicate balance. The gut microbiome plays a pivotal role in how our bodies function, from adequately absorbing nutrients during digestion to impacting our immune system. There’s evidence that gut bacteria can impact our mood and mental health. The delicate equilibrium between our guts, immune system, and skin is often referred to as the ‘skin-gut axis.’ When thrown out of balance, it can lead to a whole host of issues.

Inflammation: The First Sign of Trouble

Chronic inflammation is a common denominator in many skin conditions, including acne, eczema, and psoriasis. The gut microbiome plays a crucial role in this since it helps regulate inflammation throughout the body. When the balance of bacteria in our guts is disturbed, it can lead to an overreaction of our immune system, triggering inflammation that commonly shows up on the skin. Research has shown that certain harmful bacteria in the gut can also produce toxins that contribute to this inflammation, exacerbating existing skin conditions and even leading to the development of new ones.

Immune System Regulation

We commonly think of our immune systems being thrown into disarray because of a virus, but the gut plays an essential role. A healthy gut microbiome helps train the immune system to differentiate between harmful pathogens and beneficial ones. When there is an imbalance in gut bacteria, the immune system can become hypersensitive, attacking the skin and contributing to conditions such as psoriasis. Moreover, the gut microbiome produces fatty acids with anti-inflammatory properties, which play a crucial role in keeping the immune system balance and cutting down on inflammation across the body.

Leaky Gut Syndrome

‘Leaky gut syndrome’ is a condition that occurs when the intestinal barrier becomes permeable, allowing bacteria, toxins and even undigested food particles to leak into the bloodstream. This can trigger inflammation throughout the body, significantly impacting the skin. Studies have also suggested a potential link between leaky gut and skin conditions like acne and eczema.

Imagine your gut as a super formidable barrier, keeping out bad stuff. But sometimes, this barrier might get a bit leaky, allowing things to sneak into your bloodstream. This could cause a ruckus and make your skin act up. It’s like a superhero letting a villain into the city — not cool!

A Diverse Microbiome and Skin Health

A diverse and balanced gut microbiome is essential for overall health and the health of our skin. Research has found that individuals with a more diverse gut microbiome are less prone to common skin conditions. Certain beneficial bacteria in the gut, such as probiotics, can also contribute to glowing skin by regulating the immune system, reducing inflammation and preventing skin-related issues.

While more research is needed to understand the complexities of the gut-skin axis fully, the existing evidence suggests that maintaining a healthy gut microbiome may be a critical factor in preventing and managing various skin conditions. You can do this by eating a variety of healthy goods, including fruits, veggies and whole grains. Probiotic supplements can also help keep the gut microbiome balanced, promoting skin health and a vibrant complexion.

For more on gut health, contact GastroMD. We are a cutting-edge clinical gastroenterology practice that sets the standard in digestive health care.