The Gut-Skin Axis

The Gut-Skin Axis

Our skin can indicate when something is wrong internally. The skin is kind of like the window to the gut. The gastrointestinal tract and skin have a lot of similar properties and functions. They are both highly vascularized, richly perfused, densely innervated, massively colonized with their own microbiome, and essential for homeostasis and survival. They both have direct access to the external environment and are lined with endothelial cells, which provides the first line of defense against toxins, microorganisms, and chemicals. The skin all the way into the mouth and all the way down into the colon is the same surface. Our gut is basically a big tube of skin inside our body. The skin and gut separate us between the outside world and provide a barrier of protection.

The gut-skin access represents the unique connection between the GI tract and the skin. This axis acts bidirectionally and is greatly impacted by diet. Medical research is able to demonstrate that the health of our gut is strongly reflected in the health of our skin. Skin conditions like acne, psoriasis, and eczema are linked to problems in the gut. Getting to the root causes of problems in the GI tract, tremendously affects the resolutions of skin rashes and conditions.

The gut microbiome communicates with the skn microbiome via immune system interactions to regulate local and systemic inflammation. The gut microbiota trains our immune response on how to function properly. The intestinal barrier plays a role in allowing certain metabolites, chemicals, nutrients, and microbes to enter the bloodstream. The problem arises when the intestinal barrier becomes compromised and allows bad bacteria into the bloodstream, to build up on the skin, and to disrupt the skin microbiome, leading to poor skin conditions. In order for the gut-skin axis to function at its peak level, we must have balanced, healthy microbiomes.


The gut-skin axis is our first line of defense. It is a semi-permeable, antimicrobial membrane that protects against foreign pathogens, oxidative stress and UV damage. The gut-skin axis plays a central role in survival, energy levels, metabolism, mood, and inflammation. It is in constant communication with the immune system to regulate levels of local and systemic inflammation. This prevents free radical damage and oxidative stress on a cellular level. The skin also regulates our body temperature, which contributes to homeostasis throughout the entire body. The gut-skin axis tremendously impacts immune, endocrine, and neurological functions. It is important to be aware of this axis and how to support it.


There are multiple simple, key ways that we can maintain the gut-skin axis. Sunlight boosts vitamin D production and supports intestinal wall integrity and immune function. This boosts energy levels and promotes longevity. Consistent, daily sun exposure is an important way to preserve the gut-skin axis. Probiotics help gut, immune, and skin health and overall wellbeing. There is a strong correlation between gut dysbiosis and problems with the skin. Probiotics can prevent and treat gastrointestinal disorders and inflammatory skin conditions. They also protect against sun damage. A diet rich in antioxidants protects the gut lining and regulates gut inflammation levels. Being optimally hydrated is probably the top way to support the gut-skin axis. Optimal (not even adequate) hydration is critically essential not only to the brain, but the GI tract and skin. All of our cells need water to function at peak performance.


Sunlight, in particular ultraviolet (UV) light and infrared light, a.k.a the sunshine vitamin, has a strong impact on the gut-skin axis. Sunlight supports our energy system, circadian rhythm, mood, gut microbiome, and vitamin D synthesis. Optimal levels of vitamin D enhance energy production and support intestinal wall integrity and immune function. Sunlight also gives melatonin the power to make ATP, which increases energy levels and stores.  Infrared light decreases blood pressure while increasing blood flow, which promotes a state of relaxation, sleep, and an overall good feeling. Watching the sunrise or sunset is a key way to get infrared light through the eyes and skin. Regular sun exposure greatly impacts the gut-skin axis. Believe it or not, unprotected sun exposure for an hour a day protects against UV damage by building a “sun callus.” The whole idea is to feel good and let your body thrive everyday, not to keep pushing through just to get by.


The gastrointestinal tract and skin each have their own microbiomes. They both contain their own unique ecosystems that support diverse populations of organisms. Both the skin and gut microbiomes are in constant, two-way communication with the immune system. From the forearms to the armpits, down to the legs, and from the mouth to the small intestine, to the colon all contain different populations of microbes. These microbiomes play a central role in homeostasis, barrier function, and inflammation regulation. The problems arise when there are disruptions in the gut and skin microbiomes. Imbalanced gut bacteria can lead to obesity, metabolic syndromes, and inflammatory bowel diseases, while imbalanced skin microbiota can lead to acne and inflammatory skin conditions like rosacea, psoriasis, and atopic dermatitis. Unbalanced, undiversified microbiomes negatively alter the functions of genes inside the gastrointestinal tract and affect the skin’s ability to respond to foreign invaders leading to inflammation and disease.

Thank you so much for reading this post.