THE LIVER AND GUT WORK TOGETHER TO CLEAR SKIN
When the founder of Klarskin, Antoneta, struggled with the worst of her adult acne, she realised that the topical products and treatments were not helping the cysts, active spots and blackheads go down.
Skincare acne products were never been able to get to the root cause for her. For Antoneta's skin, acne has always been internal: digestive inflammation, gut health/imbalances and hormone related (especially on the chin and cheeks). You can read about her full story here, but for now we wanted to make you aware of the 2 organs you should start with when dealing with acne after your teen years:
Gut and Liver Health should be the starting point when it comes to clear skin - they work together to detoxify, filter and eliminate toxins in our bodies that often lead to adult acne.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE LIVER
The liver sits under your rib cage and functions to filter everything out of your body: it eliminates what we don’t need, and processes what we do need for absorption in the rest of the body.
In simple terms, there are 2 phases of liver detoxification.
Phase 1 is starts off the detoxification process before moving onto Phase 2 where the liver attaches a molecule to what it perceives as toxins (this can be anything from pharmaceuticals to processed foods) making them more soluble so the body can either poo, pee or eliminate them entirely.
Keep in mind that skin is another elimination organ where toxins can build up, and over time eventually come out in specific forms of acne. You can read our full simplified breakdown of what bacteria exactly leaves skin in the form of acne here.
WHY DOES IMPROVING LIVER AND GUT HEALTH HELP PREVENT ACNE
Supporting your Gut-Liver Axis should be everyone's starting point in achieving long term clear skin from deep within.
Understanding what the liver does on a daily basis, and how it impacts the gut, will give you an insight into how they both affect everything from your hormones, digestion, even your brain function, and obviously the look and feel of your bodies and skin.
Being mindful of toxins, pathogens and what processed low nutritional foods do to your gut and liver is the first step in aiding your own bodies, eliminating effectively and getting to the root cause of skin issues.
SO WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I EAT PROCESSED, OR FOOD THAT IS BAD FOR ME
Everything you eat goes through the same process, but what you eat affects the body and skin very differently. Learn more about the importance of a nutrient rich diet here.
Understanding the digestive process is a good starting point:
1. When you eat food your stomach acid is the first point where your body tries to digest it with acids and break it down.
2. Your pancreas then produces enzymes, your gall bladder releases stored bile to further break down the meal, and then what you have eaten moves into your small intestine where you start to absorb any nutrients - good or bad- from what you have consumed.
3. Whatever is absorbed at this point goes to the liver first. So most of the nutrition your liver receives actually comes from your gut.
The Gut-Liver axis is so important because your gut is the first screening point of access before releasing anything it has broken down from what you have consumed into the rest of the body. Which is why eating good food and high quality supplementation is so important - absolutely everything gets released into the body to then be processed further.
The liver releases bile factors (that the gall bladder stores) into the small intestines which affects your gut bacteria positively or negatively depending on your consumption choices.
That is the Gut-Liver Axis: the gut releases things into your liver to process and either use or excrete. A great example in women is our hormones: we often poo out excess estrogen that the liver has processed and moved to eliminate through the gut.
WHY IS SUPPORTING THE LIVER AS IMPORTANT AS SUPPORTING THE GUT
The liver is the first and the last point that dumps bile, toxins and hormones back into the gut after it has completed its 2 phases of detoxification – and then everything processed by the liver has to go back into the gut to be eliminated (pooped out).
Gut health and the microbiome directly influence inflammation and disease, as they can create their own bacteria and pathogens that affect the entire body.
You can find higher quantities of negative bacteria in people with chronic diseases for example. If you encourage a buildup of negative bacteria through low nutritious meals that are bad for you, this has a knock-on effect to your overall health over time, and disrupts the tight junctions in the gut, causing systemic inflammation. Scientists can now measure this within hours of eating an unhealthy meal, in real time.
This is what leads to acne over time. Of course there are different types of acne, some types are caused by topical blockages or excess sebum production on skin's surface. However people who suffer from this type of acne can often solve the problem by just cleaning their face more thoroughly and using gentle but effective skincare that balances skin's barrier function, allowing it to enter homeostasis quite quickly.
The acne we are talking about here are the cysts and pimples that come from deep within the epidermis, form under the skin and then pulsate out. This kind of acne is not from a fluctuation in hormones from puberty. It's caused by inflammation, digestive and hormonal disruptors: stress, diet, lifestyle.
There are many types and places this acne can come out, but ultimately looking at the Gut and Liver function in the first instance, rather than just treating skin's surface, is a far more effective way of treating the root of problem long term - and please be aware that in order to effectively treat it, it takes time and effort. Buying a supplement won't solve the problem entirely, you need to look at your entire lifestyle, choices and habits.
HOW DO I SUPPORT BOTH MY GUT AND LIVER HEALTH
Our Number 1 rule is to look at your food sources, what you are consuming on a daily basis, and the time you are eating. You can find a full breakdown when it comes to food quality and nutrient value here.
Next is rest. Allowing your body to regenerate at night and between meals is step 2. Stop snacking to allow all food to pass through the intestine effectively between each meal. Get 8 hours of sleep at night, and don't eat a few hours before sleep.
Supplementing effectively, getting your nutrient count up, repopulating and supporting the gut and aiding the liver in its processes, comes next. Unfortunately just taking a probiotic is not doing enough to support your gut health, let alone your liver health too. These two organs work together and both need nutritional and supplemented support in order for their functions to thrive.
In fact it has now been proven that liver function along with gut health plays a role in most disease and inflammation in the body too, and that both are ultimately interlinked.
More and more scientists and doctors are using stool tests to prove that patients with chronic issues or autoimmune conditions nearly all have some kind of GI dysbiosis, which is ultimately affected by their liver function too.
Nurture the bacterial species that support the mucus layer in the gut to build it up. Species of bacteria that are particularly important for regulating the mucosal lining are the lactobacillis and bifidobacterial family, in particular the spore based probiotics. The dosage is what you have to be mindful of – make sure its shelf stable, a brand you trust, microencapsulated to reach the colon. Eat fermented food or consume a diverse nutrient/fibre/probiotic based supplement daily.
Fibre from food and soluble fibres are extremely beneficial in feeding the bacteria in the small intestine, but also encourage regular bowel movement. It also helps nourish the diverse trillions of bacteria already in your gut that you can't supplement back in. Gut Diversity refers to different bacterial families already in the gut that all have different functions, and reviving them is far more beneficial than just supplementing probiotic bacteria back in.
THE GUT-LIVER AXIS is ultimately a communication pathway between the gut and the liver which everyone should be aware of for optimal skin health. You cannot compartmentalise the body, and that ultimately includes the look and feel of skin.
Once you understand that, you can start working towards the overall optimal function and wellbeing as yourself as a whole, leading to clear skin long term.
For more reading material on the importance of liver health, please find our article on Liver Health and Acne here.