Over 80% of pre-teens and teens reported skin imperfections. Acne vulgaris is amongst most common skin imperfection in adolescence, and is caused by the clogged sebaceous gland, which produces an oily substance called sebum. An overproduction of sebum normal during puberty can lead to clogged pores. Fluctuating hormone levels and physical changes, inevitable during adolescence, are the main culprit behind teenage acne, but many other internal and external environmental factors may contribute to the prevalence of acne, including genetics, hygiene, stress, and diet. Given that we cannot act on the genetic factors, we must try and use the opportunity to improve our skin health by managing stress and opting for the right diet.
Managing Stress Through the Brain-Gut Axis
Have you ever wondered why you get that new pimple right before you head out for that long-awaited date? The link between stress and acne is not fully understood yet, but there are several studies indicating that hormones released during periods of stress may increase sebum production, hence worsening acne. Occasional stress also affects gut bacteria through the brain-gut axis which interact with the immune system throughout then entire body (the gut being the largest immune organ). Psychological stress can cause intestinal microbiota to produce neurotransmitters that can enter the bloodstream through the intestinal barrier, modulating the immune response. Finding ways to relax and reduce stress before a big day, like meditating, exercising, sleeping through the night, are behaviors that may help avoid a skin breakout. Some psychobiotics might confer a mental health benefit by modifying the microbiota of the host through the brain-gut axis, such as Cerebiome®, a formula proven to decrease occasional stress.
Opting for The Right Diet to Benefit the Skin-Gut Axis
There is a strong relationship between the skin and gut generally, but the specific relationship between diet and acne is not yet scientifically validated. However high glycemic index foods may trigger acne, and healthy food packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber will contribute to the maintenance of normal skin through the skin-gut axis. The skin-gut axis is a documented concept which linked gastrointestinal health to skin homeostasis. In other words, gut microbiome imbalance, most notably an imbalance of Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and other endogenous species, can lead to an environment where acne is predisposed during puberty. Other than whole and nutritious foods, some probiotic supplements, like the probiotic yeast S. boulardiiand some probiotic bacteria, such as Bifidobacterium bifidum Rosell®-71, Bifidobacterium longum Rosell®-175, have mechanistic evidence through in vitro and in vivo studies that they could help support skin health, stress resiliency, gut health and natural defenses. In some formulas, zinc, vitamin B2, or vitamin C can be added as it is known that individuals with skin imperfections tend to have lower zinc levels than people with clear skin, and taking a zinc, vitamin B2 or vitamin C in oral supplement may contribute to the maintenance of normal skin.