There comes a time in every woman’s life when suddenly the typical morning and evening skincare rituals suddenly change, along with the number of products. Some might refer to this change as a “natural” progression in womanhood – the skin masques, wrinkle creams, detox oils, you know the ones. Somehow, they never seem to work like the commercials say they will, and each month the ingredients in these products get more complex and even more expensive.
Soon, terms like “skin plasticity” and “cell renewal” get tossed around, having you believe these products will help you fight back against signs of aging. Though you might notice some improvements as your skincare routine costs go up, you might not be addressing the underlying issue that is surprisingly cheaper to treat: your gut health. In truth, your skin health may have little to do with the normal wear and tear of your body as you age. Instead, your skin might be suffering from a chronic assault of inflammation that stems from an imbalance in your gut.
Not sure which one it is for you? Have you noticed any of the following:
1. Chronic bouts of acne despite your age
2. Unexplainable episodes of eczema, psoriasis, or rosacea
3. Early signs of dry skin or wrinkle formations
If so, your gut may be to blame.
Your Gut-to-Skin Relationship
At Viome, we talk a lot about your gut microbiome and its role in your health, but did you know that we have a number of other microbiomes found all over our body? The colonies found on our skin make up the skin microbiome, giving us another example of how beneficial microbes are to maintaining our health and wellbeing. These colonies play an integral role in protecting our skin. They shape how our skin looks and feels – acting as protectors of the skin barrier against outside pathogens and toxins.
Not to mention, having a healthy skin microbiome may actually help fight against environmental factors and heighten your natural defense mechanisms.
So how exactly does our skin microbiome relate to our gut microbiome? Well, it has a lot to do with the state of your gut lining and balance within your gut microbial ecosystem.
When our gut microbiome is balanced, it can limit inflammation and maintain the health of your intestinal barrier that prevents harmful toxins from entering the bloodstream. However, when our diet is poor, it can lead to our gut lining deteriorating and our gut microbes producing harmful byproducts that slip through the gaps into the bloodstream. You might know this as leaky gut. Consequently, our immune system jumps into action. Without the proper barrier, though, the response can spiral out of control and spread to our skin influencing the natural homeostasis of our skin microbes.  Our gut inflammation can affect the health of our skin and interfere with our skin microbiome, so when the gut microbiome is healthy the other may reaps the benefits, too.
Our Immune Response May Halt Skin Cell Regeneration
The bacteria that thrive on our skin interact with our skin cells to help them defend against pathogens. Some beneficial bacteria even help our skin cells produce antimicrobial peptides or AMP’s to defend against harmful microbes. Studies have shown that transplanting some of these beneficial microbes may actually decrease incidences of atopic dermatitis (i.e. eczema).  Some helpful bacteria even team up to produce specialized byproducts – like oleic acid, a fatty acid - that make pathogenic bacteria think twice before claiming your skin as their new home.  Others even work in conjunction with our immune cells to prevent infection and aid in wound repair in a specialized phenomenon called heterozygous protection.  This last mechanism helps our skin cells regenerate and improves cell turnover – reducing signs of aging like wrinkles and blemishes. 
All the ways our skin microbes protect us depend on the steady, healthy state of our entire system – unhindered by waves of inflammation that disrupt the communication between our skin cells and immune cells with our skin microbiome. However, when we develop leaky gut and our gut microbiome health become imbalanced – systemic inflammation can reach to the far ends of our skin and disrupt the beneficial microbes that maintain our skin cell integrity.
Gut Defense For Wrinkle Defense
How exactly, then, do we recalibrate our skin homeostasis? By focusing on ways to address the root of the cause: the health of our gut. By recovering the stability of our gut, we can enact significant changes that may improve our overall skin health.
When our gut ecosystem is balanced and diverse, we see improved levels of short-chain fatty acids ( SCFA’s) like butyrate, propionate, and acetate. These byproducts from beneficial bacteria are shown to exhibit anti-inflammatory effects that help to regulate our immune response in the gut. They tackle this job in many ways, including preventing certain immune cells from getting carried away and banding together for a fight when they’re not needed. They also help DNA transcription in our human cells by preventing histone deacetylases – or HDAC’s – from constricting our tight-knit chromosomes. Simply put, they allow for our cellular DNA to replicate and improve their ability to regenerate. This means faster wound healing and more opportunities for our skin cells to keep their elasticity, preventing wrinkles. 
You don’t need expensive, fancy, anti-wrinkle creams to improve your skin’s look and feel – you need real, long-lasting changes that transform your health from the inside out and change the game when it comes to aging. Whether your 20 or 80, if your gut health is compromised, you’ll feel far from young. But conversely, through real dietary improvements, you may change what it means to feel like you’re full of life. After all, you are only as old as you feel.
*The information on the Viome website is provided for informational purposes only and with the understanding that Viome is not engaged in rendering medical advice or recommendations. Viome is providing this educational information to share the exciting developments being reported in the scientific literature about the human microbiome and your health. Viome products are not intended to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease.
1. Salem I, Ramser A, Isham N, Ghannoum MA. The Gut Microbiome as a Major Regulator of the Gut-Skin Axis. Front Microbiol. 2018;9:1459.
2. Nakatsuji T, Chen TH, Narala S, et al. Antimicrobials from human skin commensal bacteria protect against Staphylococcus aureus and are deficient in atopic dermatitis. Sci Transl Med. 2017;9.
3. Bomar L, Brugger SD, Yost BH, Davies SS, Lemon KP. Corynebacterium accolens Releases Antipneumococcal Free Fatty Acids from Human Nostril and Skin Surface Triacylglycerols. MBio. 2016;7:e01725-01715.
4. Naik S, Bouladoux N, Linehan JL, et al. Commensal-dendritic-cell interaction specifies a unique protective skin immune signature. Nature. 2015;520:104-108.
5. Lai Y, Di Nardo A, Nakatsuji T, et al. Commensal bacteria regulate Toll-like receptor 3-dependent inflammation after skin injury. Nat Med. 2009;15:1377-1382.
6. Samuelson DR, Welsh DA, Shellito JE. Regulation of lung immunity and host defense by the intestinal microbiota. Front Microbiol. 2015;6:1085.