How Does Gut Health Impact the Skin?

Maybe you’ve heard a healthy diet can clear up skin conditions. Is this true? Read on to learn about the gut-skin connection and how a healthy gut may lead to a clearer complexion.1

Introduction to the gut: things to know, foods to eat

Before we discuss the gut’s impact on healthy skin, it’s important to note that the gut microbiome contains trillions of healthy bacteria that contribute to good digestion, nutrient absorption, and overall wellbeing. It features more than 400 bacterial species, or gastrointestinal flora, that oversee these processes.1,2

Many bacteria found in the gut offer crucial metabolic and immune benefits.1 Some recent research suggests that keeping the gut healthy with certain foods and nutrients may also positively impact your skin:

  • Fibrous, plant-based foods

Though the body cannot digest fiber, roughage encourages healthy gastrointestinal health, so it’s important to include some in the diet. Plant-based foods like whole grains, beans, and legumes help the body absorb nutrients and promote general gut health.3

  • Probiotics

Found in yogurts and supplements, probiotics are “living microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.”4,5 (We’ll discuss how they relate to the skin shortly.) From fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi to drinks like kombucha and kefir, these options will make a great addition to your shopping list.

  • Prebiotics

In addition to serving as food for probiotics, prebiotics encourage bacterial diversity—an important part of gut health. Asparagus, dandelion greens, bananas, onions, and garlic are all examples of prebiotic containing foods.6

  • Omega-3 fatty acids

Fatty fish like salmon and mackerel, pastured eggs, and flaxseed are full of essential omega-3 fatty acids that work to strengthen our gut function.7 These ingredients offer many health benefits for the brain and gastrointestinal system.3 

To help further support a high-performing gut, also it is suggested to drink plenty of water, manage your stress levels, and exercise regularly.6,8  

Can a healthy gut clear acne?

Acne affects up to 50 million people in the United States. It’s the nation’s most common skin condition, and if left untreated, it can contribute to emotional distress.9  

Regardless of whether or not you suffer from breakouts, your skin is an essential organ. Skin, in general, has an average surface area of over 21 square feet, and comprises roughly 6–10% of our body weight.10

The gut-skin axis is being studied more and more in relation to overall health. Our microbiome plays a key role in achieving what’s known as skin homeostasis, where the skin performs all its vital functions appropriately, including temperature regulation, protection, and water retention.1,11

How can you monitor your gut health?

Besides a healthy diet, consider discussing comprehensive stool tests with your supervising practitioner. To dive deeper into your gut-skin axis, your practitioner may schedule a stool exam, the results of which may provide your practitioner information needed to rule out any gut health conditions.

If you’re concerned your gut health may be affecting your skin, don’t hesitate to contact your healthcare practitioner for more information on the gut-skin axis or before making changes to your diet or skin care routine.

This information is for educational purposes only. This content is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Individuals should always consult with their healthcare professional for advice on medical issues.

For more information on nutrition and gut health, please visit the Metagenics blog.


  1. Salem I et al. Frontiers in microbiology. 2018;9:1459.
  2. Gorbach SL. Medical Microbiology. 1996;1(4):Chapter 95. Available from:
  3. Harris S. Medical News Today. Accessed April 25, 2019.
  4. Sanders ME. Probiotics. ISAPP. Available at: Accessed March 15, 2019.
  5. Hill C et al. Natur Revs Gastro Hepatol. 2014;11(8):506—514.
  6. American Academy of Dermatology Staff. American Academy of Dermatology. Accessed April 25, 2019.
  7. Costantini L et al. International journal of molecular sciences. 2017;18(12):2645.
  8. Conaway B. WebMD. Accessed April 25, 2019.
  9. American Academy of Dermatology. Accessed May 15, 2019.
  10. Cole W. IFMCP. mindbodygreen. Accessed April 25, 2019.
  11. Salem I et al. Front Microbiol. 2018;9:1459.

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