7 signs you need to change your diet and gut health for healthier skin
Signs that your gut is telling you something
Your diet has a massive impact on how your skin and your physical body is looking and feeling. Extensive clinical research shows a strong link between the health of the gut and the appearance and overall health of the skin.
When healthy, the gut microbiome—the community of microorganisms that reside in the digestive tract—helps to maintain a balanced immune system and prevents inflammation. Inflammation is a common feature in skin conditions such as acne, rosacea, and eczema. On the other hand, an imbalance in the gut microbiome can lead to more inflammation, which worsens existing skin conditions or triggers new ones. Our gut is also in charge of absorbing nutrients that are important for healthy skin, such as vitamins A, C, and E, as well as zinc and selenium. When the state of the gastrointestinal system is poor, it negatively impacts nutrient absorption.
If you’re doing everything you can to get clear skin and skincare products aren’t delivering the results you want, an imbalanced gut microbiome might need your attention. Here are 7 physical signs that point to a signs that perhaps a change in your diet might yield improvements in the appearance of your skin.
Frequent breakouts and worsened skin conditions
Face mapping is a useful tool to pinpoint the root cause based on the location of the breakout on your face. For instance, if you have acne on your forehead, it could be a sign of lifestyle-related issues, such as poor hygiene, lack of sleep, or an unhealthy diet. Meanwhile, if you have acne on the bottom of your chin, it could indicate digestive problems.
When considering the impact of food on skin, be certain to consider more than a 24 hour window. Think back to as far as seven days or even an entire month. What patterns stand out? Was there a major change in the staples you were eating? Was there a food group that was consistently missed?
Brittle and frail hair strands
Our hair follicles need proper nourishment to grow strong and resilient. Unfortunately, some diets can lead to protein-energy malnutrition, which can cause brittle hair or even hair loss.
To avoid such problems, make sure you consume enough protein, essential fatty acids, and nutrients such as vitamin C, zinc, and iron. You can get these from sources like eggs, salmon, fruits and vegetables, and nuts and seeds. When troubled skin is accompanied by brittle hair, the problem could be more global than just the soaps and body care products you’re using.
Weak, off-colour and brittle nails
Look at your nails and notice their shape, texture, and colour. Are they feeling brittle, dry or weak? Do they bend easily? Have they developed an unusual shape? Yellowing nails may indicate poor circulation and fluid retention, while ridges or abnormal growth can be a sign of nutritional deficiencies. Foods that can improve your nails include fruits, lean meats, salmon, leafy greens, beans, eggs, nuts, and whole grains. These contain necessary B-vitamins, iron, magnesium and protein to support healthy nail growth.
Feeling bloated, constipated or having loose stool
Passing gas is a natural bodily function, but excessive gas can be a sign of an underlying health issue or allergy. While certain foods can cause flatulence, persistent discomfort may indicate a condition such as lactose intolerance, irritable bowel syndrome, or celiac disease. You may benefit from avoiding certain trigger foods, such as dairy, gluten, or high-FODMAP foods. You can also try taking probiotics or digestive enzymes to support gut health. When your skin is feeling itchier than usual and it’s accompanied by regular bloating and discomfort, the two can very likely be linked.
When everything in the body is functioning optimally, sleep not only recharges your mind and body, it helps clear up your skin and slow down ageing by giving your body ample time for cellular repair. But when there’s a gut imbalance, no matter how much sleep you get, the skin doesn’t get better and you don’t feel less tired.
One reason for low energy results from iron or other forms of mineral deficiency. Imbalances in the thyroid may also lead to feeling tired all the time. Check with your doctor to examine whether your body’s iron levels are in the healthy range for your gender and age.
It’s important to address chronic fatigue right; all too often, it’s easy to reach for caffeine or sugar-rich foods to get us through the moment. But this isn’t a long term solution and won’t help your skin get any better. Instead, eating a frequently high sugar diet can lead to more inflammation and sensitivity in the skin.
Changes in your oral health
When skin irritation is accompanied by bad breath, inflamed or bleeding gums, frequent mouth ulcers or canker sores, then gut health might be a factor.
Swollen or bleeding gums often are associated with getting too little vitamin C in your diet. You can boost vitamin C with foods such as strawberries, tomatoes, leafy green vegetables and potatoes. Mouth ulcers are associated with low iron or vitamin B levels.
Considering the whole picture
If you’re trying to figure out how to make your skin look and feel better, and you’re experiencing a few of the telltale signs of poor gut health above, it might be worth a visit to the doctor. Speaking with a nutritionist, herbalist, Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor, gastrointestinal specialist or dietician can help you start to understand the overall state of your gut health.
Remember that long term improvements take time. As you adjust your diet, keep taking care of your skin on a day-to-day basis. Explore our sets for every type of skin concern.
Jaret, P. (2022, April 27). Nutrition and Aging: 7 Signs of Inadequate Nutrition. WebMD. Retrieved March 13, 2023, from https://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/features/nutrition-aging-7-signs-inadequate-nutrition
Kirkpatrick, K. (2019, August 7). 7 Sneaky Signs of an Unhealthy Diet – Cleveland Clinic. Cleveland Clinic Health Essentials. Retrieved March 13, 2023, from https://health.clevelandclinic.org/7-sneaky-signs-of-an-unhealthy-diet/