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Top 5 ways to decrease acne outbreaks (and heal your gut) - the gut-brain-skin axis and acne vulgari

Many health and lifestyle factors contribute to acne breakouts. Acne is commonly due to hormonal imbalances (teenage flashbacks, here we come!), but how do stress an digestion impact the skin?

A Note About Stress & Digestion

Stress is a reaction to many external and interal causes, for example:

  • driving in traffic

  • unhappy work or home environments

  • impending deadlines

  • death of a loved one

  • food sensitivities

If we combine psychological stress with eating habits that cause gut distress (low fibre, high sugar, chemicals in foods, and eating foods that cause subtle immune reactions in the body), your digestive capacity decreases.

Poor digestive function may be experienced as gas and bloating, inconsistent and unformed stools, and acid reflux or burping.

Stress can cause food to move more slowly through your intestines, causing fermentation of foods. Stress can also decrease the amount of stomach acid, and decrease digestive enzyme availability.

Toxins from fermenting food and bacterial by-products can now be easily absorbed into your body through your intestinal lining.

The end result is inflammation, and an increase in Substance P (a protein related to inflammation), which has been shown to increase the number of sebaceous (oil-producing) glands.

Why Acne?

If you have a genetic susceptibility to acne, this will likely cause an increase in sebum (oil) production in your skin, causing an outbreak of acne.

So how do you stop the cycle?

  1. Addressing the key sources of stress

You may not be able to change the source, but your coping mechanisms can change (exercise/activity, counseling, breathing, reframing, and talking about it with a supportive friend).

2. Avoiding foods that you have sensitivity to. Physical symptoms of possible food sensitivities includ:

  • gas, bloating

  • runny nose

  • increased phlegm or throat clearing

  • changes in your stool

You can also get a food sensitivity test done at your Naturopathic Doctor’s office.

3. Taking probiotics.

Taking a probiotic supplement containing at least 10 billion of a combination of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species is a great way to support your digestion, and decrease inflammation.

4. Eating more fermented foods to improve the good bacteria in your gut

  • sauerkraut

  • miso

  • kimchi

  • kefir

  • kombucha

  • fermented ginger

For individual advice, consult a naturopathic doctor.

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