The Gut-Skin Axis

Many would have heard about the gut-brain axis, meaning how the gut microbiota can impact our neurotransmitters production and mental health. This is not the only existing axis, there is also the gut-skin axis, meaning how our gut microbiota can impact our skin health.

In my practice I work with many eczema patients and find many times that the root cause of the problems stems from the gut.

Eczema can be present since infancy, alongside other conditions such as allergies and asthma. The common denominator is an autoimmune imbalance, where the immune system overreacts to certain stimuli when it shouldn’t.

The gut is heavily involved in modulating our immune response, especially via the microbiome which is the ecosystem of bacteria, fungi and viruses living in our gut. The microbiome is unique to each individual, almost like a fingerprint, but this can be impacted and modified by food intake, disease and lifestyle.

Studies show that Bifidobacterium plays an essential role in lowering inflammatory responses, and Proteobacteria and Enterobacteria can have a role in furthering inflammation in inflammatory skin disorders.

Certain bacteria strains, such as Akkermansia, ferment dietary fibre producing as a by-product short chain fatty acids (SCFA) and more specifically butyrate. Regarding skin health, SCFA butyrate is associated with lowering cytokines inflammatory response and hair follicle regulation, stem cell differentiation, and wound healing.

The best way to increase beneficial bacteria such as Bifidobacterium is to use probiotics or integrate fermented foods such as kefir and live yogurt in your diet.

In my practice I also see many clients with concomitant gut issues and eczema flare ups. Studies point to the connection between SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth) and histamine sensitivity, which can translate as an eczema flare up. Histamines are a chemical released by white blood when the immune system is defending against a potential allergen, triggering an inflammatory response.

In this case addressing SIBO can really help reducing histamine sensitivity, increasing DAO (enzyme that breaks down histamine in the gut) production and reduce frequency and intensity of the flare ups.

Is important to add that also the skin can influence the gut microbiome. Exposure to sunlight and increases blood vitamin D levels, which can modulate the gut microbiome and the body immune response related to gut microbiota composition.