You might have seen skincare products claiming to “balance the microbiome,” or dietary supplements that claim to “support a healthy microbiome” and heal “leaky gut.” But what does that really mean, and is there any science behind those phrases? More importantly, how does any of this have to do with your skin?
Believe me, the first time I heard the term “leaky gut,” I was incredibly skeptical.
I graduated top of my class at Yale, and then top of my class at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. I took my medical training very seriously, and none of my esteemed professors or textbooks used words like “leaky.” I pictured some pipes that weren’t lined up properly, and the plumbing analogy just wasn’t coinciding with my knowledge of the complexity of the gastrointestinal tract, and the intricacies of the cells and tissues lining the small and large intestines.
I then started having conversations with leaders in the field of gastroenterology, many of whom were at top academic centers and publishing in the most respected journals in their field. I learned that “leaky gut” was a grossly oversimplified way of describing a phenomenon we were seeing in clinical practice and learning more about in the lab, especially with new technologies that were allowing us to better comprehend the gut microbiome.
“Leaky gut” refers to increased intestinal permeability, meaning the intestinal lining, or barrier, isn’t functioning properly.
Why does that happen? It all starts with an imbalance of our gut microbiome, or what we called “dysbiosis.” Stick with me, here. I’m going to get a little sciencey, but it’s worth the deep dive to truly understand how gut health is linked with your overall health, and specifically the health of your skin.
Dysbiosis: when your microbiome is out of balance.
Our gut is our interface with the outside world through our diet. Everything we swallow is broken down in our digestive tract and “presented” to our gut lining. Although our gut lining is only one cell layer thick, those cells are joined by tight junctions which carefully regulate what is, or isn’t, allowed to pass through and be absorbed into our bloodstream—sort of like a bouncer at a club. When our gut lining is healthy and intact, it can make smart decisions about what should or shouldn’t pass. When our gut microbiome is out of balance (called dysbiosis), our tight junctions fail to function and our intestinal barrier starts to become permeable—it isn’t able to act as a smart “bouncer.” When this happens, it creates a dangerous domino effect in the gut that can then affect the rest of the body and even the skin.
A whopping 70-80% of our immune system is literally lining our gut.
So when dysbiosis occurs and our gut lining is compromised, or so called “leaky,” then so is your immune system. Inflammatory molecules (such as lipopolysaccharide endotoxins, or LPS endotoxins) that should not enter our bloodstream are able to penetrate, triggering system-wide inflammation. This inflammation can affect every part of our bodies, including our skin. Put simply, an inflamed (leaky) gut can lead to inflamed skin. If you can rebalance the gut microbiome, and address “dysbiosis” in the gut, you can have a powerful impact on your skin. When the gut microbiome is back in balance, our immune system can calm down, and so can your skin.
Interestingly, the same phenomenon occurs in the skin. When our skin microbiome is out of balance, we experience skin dysbiosis. This, in turn, affects our skin barrier. Our skin barrier fails to function properly, allowing moisture to evaporate out of our skin, and permitting inflammatory substances (ex. irritants, pollutants, etc.), to penetrate into our skin and rev up our skin’s immune system, which can lead to skin conditions such as breakouts or dryness.
That’s the reasoning behind why I wanted to first introduce Bowe Glowe™ Microbiome Nourishing Cream and Bowe Growe™ Microbiome Pomegranate Water-Enhancing Elixir as the foundational products of your DWB Beauty routine. When using these products together, and pairing Outer Skincare with Inner Skincare, you are truly taking a three-dimensional approach to skin health. Our products were deliberately formulated to help balance the skin microbiome, and help support both a healthy gut lining, as well as a healthy skin barrier.†
Three-dimensional skincare is the new era of skincare, and we’re just getting started!