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February 13, 2020 3 min read

Time to get your glow on… from the inside out. The microbiome is a hot topic right now. From its link to mental health, to its connection to food intolerances, and even its ability to reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), the microbiome is undoubtedly powerful.

But what about its link to the skin? Turns out this small but mighty biological structure might have the answers to many of our woes, including acne. 

What is the microbiome?

Let’s wrap this up in a little science nutshell: the microbiome is a collection of microbes, made up of bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms. There are trillions living in the body, including your skin. Most gut microbes can be found inside the ‘cecum’, a small pocket inside your large intestine. 

Fun fact: There are morebacterial cells inside your body than human cells!

Like our personalities, everyone’s gut microbiome is completely different. This is why some people respond to foods differently - i.e. you can eat peanuts but your friend can’t, and your friend can indulge in some Ben and Jerry’s while you avoid that dairy!

Certain foods are deemed‘good’ or ‘bad’ by your microbiome, and this relates to good and bad bacteria. Evenslight differences in bacteria can cause huge fluctuations in health from person to person. Cheers to celebrating diversity! 

To spice it up further,microbes differ from your gut to your skin. These tiny little things may even be responsible for stress and mental health fluctuations. 

How do you know if your microbiome is unhealthy?

There are several health issues that can be linked to an unhealthy microbiome. We’re not playing Dr. Ohana with speculative diagnoses, but generally if the bacteria in your microbiome is not balanced, you may experience the followingsymptoms:

  • An upset stomach
  • Unintentional weight fluctuations
  • Poor sleep quality
  • Lack of energy
  • Food intolerances
  • And of course… skin irritation!

 How does the microbiome affect the skin?

It’s hard to imagine how something deep in your large intestine could affect your skin, but research is beginning to show a connection. A 2019 study published in theUS National Library of Medicine, ‘Potential Role of the Microbiome in Acne’, found strong evidence that gut microbes ‘play a mediating role between skin inflammation and emotion.’ It can be explained with evidence that the gut flora affects the skin by transporting the gut microbiota to the skin.

The body is one holistically connected system, so the skin is affected by our emotions and mental state. Worry, anxiety, and depression can lead to changes in the gut microbes, creating a negative cycle.

When Bob Marley sangDon’t Worry, Be Happy,we’re pretty sure he wasn’t inspired by the microbiome, but he’s inspired all of us to worry less! With less worry, the happier and healthier the skin will be.

What changes can we make for a healthy microbiome?

A healthy microbiome is usually achieved with prebiotics and probiotics alongside a balanced diet.Prebiotics and probiotics can be taken as supplements, and can be found in some of the foods you eat, too. 

Splurging on supplements in the hope that they will sort out your microbiome is a bold assumption, as gut health varies drastically from person to person. Get to know your own personal situation and understand how certain supplements may offer health benefits.

What about dietary changes, you say? Regardless of the science behind eating for your microbiome, improving your diet is a routine way to help with any health issues.

Here are some things to try:

  • Make your diet diverse: Adiverse diet means a diverse microbiome, and this is undoubtedly good for the gut. Try incorporating beans, legumes, and fibre-rich fruit. Cheers once again to celebrating diversity!
  • Eat prebiotic foods: Prebiotics are a type of fiber that stimulates healthy bacteria growth, so eating the likes of artichokes, asparagus and oats can be really helpful. 
  • Try fermented foods: Things like yogurt, kimchi and kefir contain healthy bacteria, and are thought to help promote a balanced gut.
  • Consider plant-based: Vegetarian and vegan diets can help reduce levels of disease-causing bacteria and reduce inflammation.
  • Go with whole grains: When digested, these fiber-heavy foods can help with weight management, cancer risk and diabetes, among other conditions.
  • Reduce sugar: Goodbye artificial sweeteners and excessive cake consumption! An increase in blood sugar can stimulate the growth of unhealthy gut bacteria.
  • Pick polyphenols: These are plant compounds that you can get from things like red wine, green tea, and dark chocolate, and help stimulate healthy bacterial growth.

Got questions about the microbiome and your skin? Are you changing your diet to support your microbiome? Get in touchover on Instagram at@ohanacbd and let us know.  

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