14th June 2022
Gut Health and Acne: How Food Choices Can Affect Your SkinDr. Devan Patel, PharmD
Acne, as a majority of us are well aware of, are those painful bumps that show up on various places of the body. Mainly seen on the face, acne is caused by bacteria that triggers inflammation and clogged pores.
They may be large, small, white heads, black heads, or even under the skin. On the face, the location of blemishes can hint at the cause of their existence.
Acne on the hairline can indicate sweat and hair products, the forehead indicates improper digestion, irregular sleep, diet issues and stress.
Blemishes on the cheeks are mainly caused by stress, cell phone bacteria, makeup, and dirty pillowcases, while pimples on the chin and jawline indicate more for hormonal imbalance, stress, food intolerance, and diet.
In this article, we will cover just how your gut health can affect your skin. The acne-connection is in fact real, and we can help point you in the right direction.
Your gut health is just as important as your skincare routine
Your diet and gut health is a gateway for your skin health. You can create the perfect sidewalk of skincare, silk pillowcases, and workouts to lead you up to the gate of clear and healthy skin. But, if you have a poor diet, that gate will stay closed and you will continue to experience acne in its different forms.
Healing your gut unlocks the gate to healthy skin. By healing your gut, you can heal your acne. So don’t go buying all the harsh chemical treatments and peels thinking your routine is not working…it may be a good hydrating routine, and your diet is what needs to be changed!
The Acne-Gut connection
Your gut microbiome has around 100 trillion microorganisms. Not only does this microbiome affect digestion, but it also affects hormones and mood.
If the gut is out of whack, then the whole body suffers. This can be in the form of SIBO, acne, or leaky gut syndrome.
A lot of health concerns come from what we fuel ourselves with, as what we eat becomes the nutrients into our bloodstream and throughout our body. This means that acne causing bacteria can also get into our bloodstream and cause chronic inflammation.
The “easy” thing about an imbalance gut is that it can tell you what is wrong! (Mostly.)
Since your gut has a huge influence on your mood, hormones, and skin; tracking what you eat and utilizing the cut out diet (removing food groups for 12 weeks and reintroducing slowly) can help you determine what foods are triggering your gut imbalance and the oh so fun inflamed skin.
Gut health, skin health, and water intake are also connected. Water helps hydrate our body and has shown to help the mucosal lining of the intestines and good bacteria in the gut. Almost a forgotten nutrient for gut health. Water can contain a lot of vitamins and minerals that can give our body the energy and substance it needs to function.
There have even been findings in studies done that those who rarely drink water have a lower count of certain healthy bacteria that is linked to having gastrointestinal infections.
Do I have to go on a boring diet to heal my gut?
Short answer, NO. Long answer, kind of but not really.
The famous saying that applies everywhere in life is that moderation is key. That means you can have chocolate and pasta, just don’t eat it everyday or in huge quantities.
Everyone is unique and therefore reacts biologically differently to the same things. Some people can work out less and stay toned while others have to work out longer and harder. Some people can eat greasy food and have no effect while others break out all over the place.
That being said, it is recommended to limit or avoid high glycemic index foods (sugar, pasta, white bread), dairy products (all dairy products), conventional beef and pork, saturated and trans fat, omega-6 fats, and antibiotics.
What should I eat?
Foods that you want to fuel your body with are foods that contain dark leafy greens, green tea, complex carbs (sweet potato, whole grains), bone broth, Zinc rich foods, probiotic rich foods, and clean protein.
What you should be looking for in your diet is vitamin A, vitamin C, zinc, magnesium, and iron. Not limited to these vitamins, but these are some of the key components to healthy skin. Not only do these nutrients help with gut health and acne, but they also help with acne scars and healing post inflammation from acne.
Avoiding or limiting antibiotics mentioned earlier may have been a shock or confusing. The reason you should not jump at antibiotics all the time, is that antibiotics kill both good and bad bacteria, i.e. hurt your gut microbiome and gut health.
Prebiotics support a healthy gut and antibiotic related issues, an easy to remember one is fiber. Probiotics are the foods and supplements that fuel and maintain the good bacteria, many people think about yogurt or the most commonly used in supplements Lactobacillus acidophilus complex and Lactobacillus paracasei.
There are a handful of good all in one supplements on the market for acne, such as Hum Skin Squad, Murad Internal Skincare, and SkinVite, by Zennutrients. My go to favorite for the price, quality and value is SkinVite. It’s a natural supplement that promotes a healthy gut and healthy clear skin! It contains 20 vitamins and minerals, probiotics, and herbs in a vegan and gluten-free formula. Best of all it’s formulated by clinical pharmacists and dermatologists to be safe and effective.
Take Away Message: Acne is a wound
An important thing to remember and maybe change the way you look at your acne is that your acne is a wound. Wounds can be healed and need to be treated with care.
It is important to not pick at your skin and excessively use harsh chemicals and treatments while trying to heal your skin. This causes more trauma and increases the risk of scars. The food you eat also aids in reducing scar formation and scar healing.
It is also important to note that diet alone may not cure the causes of acne. Dermatologists are important resources to use if your acne is hormonal, painful, or refuses to go away. Acne can damage some people's mental health which can lead to acne getting worse.
Acne does not define you, as acne can come and go, but one’s unique and beautiful personality will stay. Being patient and understanding that acne is not always caused by the same issue for everyone, but gut health can be a big influence on skin health and other health issues that can arise from a poor gut microbiome.
Authored by: Lindsey Council, Doctor of Pharmacy Candidate | University of South Florida and of course a person that suffers from acne :)