Gut Health & Your Mood

A slight deviation from dermatology. HOWEVER   ……not only is our gut linked to our SKIN, it can also influence our MOODS (and vica versa).

YES studies have identified that there is a strong link between our gut health and our emotions.

Our brain and our gut share much of the same tissue. Sometimes referred to as our ‘second brain’ our digestive system and our nervous system are link in many ways.

Our gut’s microbiome produces more ‘serotonin’ (our feel good hormone) than our brain. In fact approximately 85 per cent of our serotonin is found in our gut. In addition to this, there are a multitude of other neurotransmitters located in our gut. A clinical study involving (a large sample size of) patients with gut issues,  showed that anxiety and depression correlate strongly with their gut issues. Another study showed that when gut issues improved, so did depression and emotional problems.

Evidence also suggests that the gut microbiome can influence sleep quality and our circadian rhythm. Our mental health is closely linked to the quality and timing of our sleep.

So there is no wonder that…..

Improving gut health can not only boost our immune system and overall health (including our skin), it can also improve mood. For good gut health we need good gut flora. The bacteria should be varied and well balanced. Meaning  …more of the good guys than the bad! Read more about this in my previous Gut Article.

Easy steps to improve your gut health

  • Eat foods high in probiotics – eg Kombucha, Kefir, natural yogurt, saurkraut & kimchi or other fermented foods.
  • Avoid (or limit) inflammatory foods – Such as gluten, unfermented dairy, excessive alcohol, refined sugar & artificial sweeteners.
  • Eat fresh unprocessed foods – Include lots of vegetables & fruits that are high in fibre (lots have the additional benefit of being prebiotics – which are like fertilisers for our good bacteria).
  • Avoid unnecessary antibiotics – Which can wipe out our beneficial, protective gut bacteria.
  • Limit stress
  • If required supplement with high quality probiotic supplements  – taking a probiotic supplement can also naturally boost the good probiotics in your system. Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are particularly good strains for improving mood. Supplementation can also be beneficial for sufferers of inflammatory skin problems like acne, psoriasis, rosacea and dermatitis.
  • Regular Moderate Exercise – has been shown to increase our guts (good) bacterial diversity and particularly increase Lactobacillus. Exercise also increases circulation, blood Flow, endorphins levels and reduced Stress.
  • See Gut-Skin Connection

SO…..

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The answer is YES

Is your GUT effecting your Skin??

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More and more studies are linking our GUT health to our SKIN.

Our GUT does much more than purely absorbing nutrients and energy from our food. It also:-

  • Plays an important role in our immune system (about two thirds of our immune system lives in the gut).
  • Produces more than twenty four hormones that influence everything from our appetite to our mood and even our Skin.
  • Produces detoxifying enzymes (which also destroy harmful bacteria).

Probiotics are ‘goodbacteria that strengthen the lining of our gut, support our body’s ability to absorb nutrients and fight infection. Strengthening our gut lining is important, as this can help protect us from invaders such as bad bacteria, fungi and viruses. Having low levels of good bacteria allows these bad pathogens and toxins to leak out into the body (aka “leaky gut syndrome”). When our immune system detects these invaders, it overreacts by causing inflammation. This can then lead to inflammatory skin issues such as acne, psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis and rosacea.

Gut Skin Connection

Nutrients need to be absorbed correctly in the gut in order for growth, repair, and normal functioning to occur. When our gut is restricted (with the absorption of nutrients), it begins to prioritise which organs will get the few nutrients that are available. When nutrients are in short supply, the body priorities the essential organs like the heart, brain and liver. This results in our skin, hair and nails missing out.

SO for good gut health we need good gut flora. The bacteria should be varied and well balanced. Meaning …more of the good guys than the bad!

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So what can we do to help?

Probiotics

The best way to increase your levels of good bacteria is through food. Some good options include:-

  • Yoghurt – good old fashioned full fat natural yoghurt.
  • Feta – is rich in Lactobacillus & plantarum which have anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Fermented Foods – such as Saurkraut & Kimchi.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar.
  • Kefir – a fermented dairy drink rich in the beneficial probiotic Lactobacillus Acidophilus.
  • Miso – made from fermented soybeans, rice or barley.
  • Kombucha – an effervescent fermentation of black tea.

Supplementing with additional high quality probiotic supplements can be a great way to get more probiotics into your body. Taking a probiotic supplement can also naturally boost the good probiotics that are already in your system. Supplementation can be especially beneficial for sufferers of inflammatory skin problems like acne, eczema, psoriasis, rosacea and dermatitis.

Prebiotics

Prebiotics are like fertilisers for your good gut flora. Examples include:-

  • Inulin found in onions, garlic, leeks, witlof, endive, Jerusalem artichokes, asparagus & bananas.
  • Fibre – such as flaxseeds, apples, oats.

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To avoid / limit

  • Sugar – bad bacteria feeds on sugar.
  • Artificial sweeteners – are now thought to harm the good bacteria in your gut.
  • Processed foods – are often loaded with sugar and gluten. They also often contain emulsifiers, which are added to a lot of processed foods to extend their shelf life ….and dramatically increase gut inflammation.
  • Unnecessary oral antibiotics – which can wipe out your beneficial, protective gut bacteria.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – such as aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen, which can cause intestinal and gut inflammation, damaging the lining and causing intestinal and gut permeability.
  • Stress – this connection is referred to as the gut-brain axis.
  • Alcohol – can irritate the stomach and intestines, cause inflammation and suppress certain vital hormone production.
  • Gluten – causes inflammation of the gut in most people.
  • Unfermented Dairy – can cause inflammation similar to gluten and sugar.

What else can help?

  • Exercise – researchers believe that exercise increases particular types of bacteria in the gut.
  • Sleep
  • Limiting stress (which decreases cortisol levels).
  • Bone broth – collagen is great for the gut and skin.

The importance of keeping things regular 

Our skin (which is our largest organ) is a major form of elimination for the body. If bowel motions aren’t regular, then toxins will need to be excreted elsewhere. 

As our face is covered in pores, it becomes the perfect back-up plan for excreting toxins. This can results in acne! SO, it’s really important to have regular bowel motions to ensure your body does not either store toxins or eliminate them via the skin. 

Good reads

  1. The Clever Guts Diet
    – Dr Michael Mosley
  2. GUT – The inside story of our body’s most under-rated organ. – Giulia Enders.

Victoria Isherwood (Registered Nurse / Dermatology)

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