How your gut affects your skin & hair health 

two woman with cucumber slices over their eyes

No matter how committed I am to my night routine, I know my bottles and tinctures can only go so far. Because any time I don’t drink enough water or I indulge in too many cookies, I wake up with lackluster skin and lifeless hair. Caring for your skin and hair isn’t just about treating the outer layer; it’s also about nurturing it from the inside – and that starts with a healthy gut. 

Read on to learn how your gut works from within to help your skin and hair hold on to that healthy glow.  

The gut-skin and gut-hair connections 

Your skin and hair are a good reflection of what’s going on inside your gut. Ever notice when your gut feels off, your skin is also dull? Or that you shed more hair than usual? That’s because your gut-skin and gut-hair connections are real—and part of an intricate system. 

Your digestive tract is home to trillions of microorganisms—including bacteria, viruses and fungi—that together make up your gut microbiome and affect, well, everything in your body. That includes digestion, nutrient absorption, mood, immunity—and your skin and hair health. In fact, skin or hair issues are often the first signs that your gut needs a little TLC. So by caring for your gut, you’re also caring for your skin and hair. 

6 ways to help your gut-skin and gut-hair connections 

1. Eat a balanced diet 

The best way to take control of your gut health is to eat a diet filled with fresh, varied, colorful fruit and vegetables. This helps fuel the good bugs in your gut while ensuring you’re getting the full spectrum of nutrients to keep your microbiome diverse and balanced. A healthy microbiome keeps your digestive tract working at its best so you’re able to better absorb key nutrients like vitamins C, E, zinc and collagen for your skin and hair.  

2. Limit refined sugar, processed foods and other gut offenders  

Just as some foods help improve your gut microbiome, others can disrupt it. Avoid any foods you’re sensitive to, as they can inflame or weaken your gut barrier. And common gut offenders like processed foods and refined sugar should also be limited. Too much sugar not only impairs your gut lining but feeds bad bacteria, throwing your gut flora out of balance. Plus, it can damage the collagen and elastin in your skin, causing it to appear duller and more prone to premature wrinkles, according to some research.  

Aim to get most of your sweets from natural sugars like fruit and limit refined sugars that are found in processed and sweetened baked goods and other treats.  

3. Get probiotics 

If your gut feels out of whack, fermented foods or a probiotic supplement can help reintroduce good bacteria to your microbiome while edging out the bad ones. These have live bacteria to restore balance and promote a healthy ratio of good to bad bugs. A thriving ecosystem helps maintain a strong gut and helps ensure it absorbs vital nutrients. 

Fermented foods like yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha or miso are all healthy options. To reap the most benefit, combine them with prebiotics, a type of fiber that helps good gut bacteria thrive. Some great sources include garlic, onions, bananas and apples. 

4. Stay hydrated 

Here’s the thing: there is literally no way for your skin to glow without good hydration. Water is essential to every function in your body, including your gut. It helps move vital nutrients and oxygen throughout your body while removing any toxins and waste. This not only increases your microbiome’s diversity but also helps your gut absorb skin and hair-friendly nutrients effectively. 

What’s more, when you’re not drinking enough water, your blood pulls water from your cells, leading to dull, less elastic skin. How much water you need daily depends on a list of factors, but for most of us, a good rule of thumb is to take half our bodyweight (in pounds) and switch that number to fluid ounces (eg: a 140-pound person generally needs about 70 fluid ounces of water per day). 

5. Manage stress 

Chronic stress throws almost everything in your body off. Your gut, skin and hair are no exceptions. Cortisol, your main stress hormone, can cause an imbalance in your microbiome and weaken your gut barrier. It can also decrease blood flow to your skin, diverting nutrients, allowing toxins to build up and clogging pores—leading to blemishes and frail hair. 

To help reduce stress, make sure you’re getting enough rest, exercising and eating a well-balanced diet. Whenever you can, make time to relax, meditate, do art, listen to music or read a book.  

6. Get enough sleep 

Beauty sleep is real. When you don’t get quality shuteye, notice how your skin is dry and lifeless? Sleep allows your gut and skin cells to rest and repair any damage from the day. And a lack of sleep not only interferes with your microbiome but can compromise your overnight skin repair. To wake up with glowing skin, aim to get at least seven to eight hours of beauty rest each night. 

Want to learn which foods are good for your skin? Check out: 8 foods for skin health 

About Gabby  

Gabby is a Nutritionist with a master’s degree in strategic communications. She loves using her nutrition-fluency with storytelling to encourage positive change. Before Persona, she worked at a mental health clinic helping clients manage stress, anxiety and other mental health issues through diet.      

Do you have questions about supplements? Reach out to one of our experts, or take Persona’s free nutrition assessment, and learn exactly what you need to take your wellness to the next level.      

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.       

This information is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional, or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. Do not use the information from this article for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing medication or other treatment. Always speak with your physician or other healthcare professional before taking any medication or nutritional, herbal, or homeopathic supplement, or using any treatment for a health problem. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your health care provider promptly. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking professional advice because of something you have read in this article.       

References:

  1. De Pessemier B, Grine L, Debaere M, Maes A, Paetzold B, Callewaert C. Gut-Skin Axis: Current Knowledge of the Interrelationship between Microbial Dysbiosis and Skin Conditions. Microorganisms. 2021;9(2):353. Published 2021 Feb 11. doi:10.3390/microorganisms9020353 
  2.  Danby FW. Nutrition and aging skin: sugar and glycation. Clin Dermatol. 2010;28(4):409-411. doi:10.1016/j.clindermatol.2010.03.018 
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