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How to Get Healthy Looking Skin by Balancing Your Gut

By Bridget Baker ; Updated August 14, 2017

When we have acne, we often look to serums, masks or scrubs to clear up our skin. But perhaps we need to look inward to see if everything is balanced on the inside. Specifically, the lack of healthy bacteria in our stomachs can be a cause of acne. By treating and balancing good bacteria in our gut we can potentially rid ourselves of acne.

Good vs. Bad Bacteria

Inside our digestive tracts we have trillions of bacteria — both good and bad. The job of the good bacteria is to keep the bad bacteria in check so that it does not grow out of balance, which can occur with poor diet or illness.

The good bacteria are called probiotics, which the World Health Organization defines as “live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer health benefits on the host.” This means the right amount of probiotics can reduce the overgrowth of bad bacteria.

How Poor Digestion Causes Acne

An imbalance of healthy digestive bacteria has an effect on proper digestion. Slow or poor digestion can cause inflammation. Whitney P. Bowe, M.D., FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist and clinical assistant professor of dermatology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York, speaks about something called the “gut-brain-skin axis.”

The combination of stress and low-fiber foods can cause an increase in bad bacteria in the gut. This in turn creates a leaky gut, which allows toxins to be released into the bloodstream. These toxins come out of the skin in the form of acne.

Foods to Avoid

As we all know, diet plays a key role in whether or not the digestive tract is healthy. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, it is important to implement a well-balanced diet for clear skin. Foods that are sugary or high on the glycemic index should be avoided. This includes sodas, bread, dairy, yeast and highly processed foods. These foods can create an overgrowth of the bad bacteria and lead to inflammation and acne.

Food to Eat

Foods that can improve and potentially prevent acne include healthy fats and foods low in sugar and high in fiber. These include olive oil, legumes and most vegetables. Proper nutrition, such as a low-glycemic diet, eases digestion and keeps digestive enzymes and bacteria in balance. In one study it was found that a diet low in sugar reduced the size of the sebaceous glands on the face and reduced inflammation, both of which can cause acne.

Probiotics as Prevention

To add in more of the good bacteria, consume foods that contain probiotics, such as yogurt and other cultured foods. Probiotic supplements may also help. Because probiotics are antimicrobial they can repair the lining of the intestines and repair a leaky gut, which can prevent toxins from exiting the body through the skin. According to Dr. Bowe, probiotics are proving to be beneficial in the treatment of acne.

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