Ask An Expert: Does Leaky Gut Cause Leaky Skin?

With Georga Holt

If you’ve ever experienced gut health issues such as leaky gut, you’ve likely also wondered whether your skin issues may be linked. From sensitivity and inflammatory skin conditions like eczema and rosacea, to ageing, congestion and leaky skin—our gut plays a huge part in ensuring our skin remains clear, resilient and healthy.


To help better understand this intimate connection, we asked naturopath, Georga Holt, to further explain the gut-skin connection, define what ‘leaky skin’ actually means and share some holistic tips on how to heal and repair the gut. “Our bodies, systems and organs are so intertwined, so when we experience a symptom or ailment, it’s usually not exclusive to that part of the body and can impact the health and functioning of other parts of the body,” Georga explains. “Our body is smarter than you think and our organs and cells are constantly communicating with each other.”

How important is gut health when it comes to our skin?

“To say gut health is important for skin health is an understatement in itself. The gut and skin are linked by many different facets; our microbiome health, inflammation, the quality of our gut and its ability to absorb nutrients, hormonal metabolism, its ability to detoxify (via bowel movements) and so much more. And if any of these are out of balance, this can impact the health of our skin.”

 

And what is leaky gut?

“Leaky gut is when the tight junctions, which make up our gut wall, have become loose causing a leak—hence the name ‘leaky gut’. This can cause a cascade of problems such as increased exposure to toxins, pathogens and other unwanted particles that the gut wall usually keeps out. Additionally, it can also lead to nutrient loss and increased inflammation due to the opening of the gut wall.”

 

So how does leaky gut affect our skin?

“When looking at leaky gut and the impact it has on the skin, the main aspects I look at are microbiome health, nutrient levels, bowel movements and inflammation. Due to the ‘leak’ in the gut, people commonly experience an imbalanced microbiome, reduced nutrient absorption, poor elimination and increased inflammation—which, in turn, can cause a disruption to the quality of the skin barrier, interfere with the health of the skin microbiome and increase inflammation, causing more skin breakouts and a slower ability to heal the skin.”

 

'Leaky skin' is a term sometimes used to describe an impaired skin barrier—what are some contributing factors for leaky skin?

“As alluded to above, there are a myriad of factors that contribute to a broken or impaired skin barrier, including:

  • External factors; such as harsh environments, sun exposure, synthetic heating/cooling
  • Skincare that contains synthetic or toxic ingredients
  • Over-exfoliation
  • Lack of cleansing
  • Inflammatory diet
  • Nutrient deficiencies
  • Internal aspects; such as poor gut health, stress and hormonal imbalances”

 

How can we help to repair our gut—and subsequently our skin—from within?

“The first step is to identify the root cause as this will highlight what element of the gut needs healing. Everyone’s gut is different and therefore finding your ‘why’ is an important step in your health journey. Whether your gut health has taken a turn due to triggering foods, compromised digestive function, an imbalance in the microbiome, the quality of the gut wall etc—finding the root cause will improve the success of your health returning to ‘normal’.

 

The gut is tricky and temperamental to work with, so that is why I recommend my clients undertake comprehensive gut testing as that helps to provide us with all the answers we’re looking for. Still, unfortunately there isn’t a one size fits all approach when it comes to gut health, which is why working with a trained health professional is important.”

 

What are three super simple (and quick!) ways we can start to improve our gut health right now?

“Eat mindfully. Stress less (which is easier said than done!). And aim to eat 30 different fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds each week to encourage diversity in your diet as well as your microbiome.”

 

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