Science-Based Guide To Happy Gut And Healthy Skin

There’s a good reason to believe gut health is linked to skin health. Gut problems are more common in acne patients, and treating those reduces acne. With the why out of the way we should turn to how. What are the gut problems that aggravate acne and how we can treat them?

I spent the last 4 days combing through scientific literature on gut problems. In this rather lengthy post I’ll give you an overview of gut problems, what’s causing them and evidence-based advice on why eating fewer vegetables may be good for your skin.

So grab a cup of green tea, sit back and relax.

Overview of gut problems

Medically the problem is known as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). IBS is an umbrella term for common digestive problems we all face from time to time, such as bloating, gas, abdominal pain and elimination problems (constipation and diarrhea). But in IBS patients these symptoms occur regularly whereas in healthy person they only visit occasionally. Other common symptoms of IBS include:

  • Heartburn
  • Chest pain
  • Early satiety, meaning you’ll feel full after eating just a bit of food
  • Abdominal bloating

Gut problems can also cause non-gut related symptoms, such as:

  • Problems with sleep
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Neck and back pain
  • Painful menstruation
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Muscle and joint pain

IBS is fairly common afflicting 12-20% of the population worldwide.

In the past doctors believed irritable bowel syndrome is psychosomatic (it’s just in your head). And certainly things like stress, emotional issues and irregularities in neurotransmitter levels play a role. But research in the past 10 to 15 years has shown that IBS also has an organic cause, namely bacterial imbalance in the gut. And in this post I’m going to focus on that, and we’ll leave stress and emotional issues for another time.

Those pesky little bacteria

In the gut-skin axis post I talked how bacterial imbalance in the gut causes leaky gut syndrome and aggravates acne. It seems that those pesky little bacteria are at it again, this time causing IBS.

Your gut provides a safe residence for billions and billions of bacteria. They digest plant fiber that your body otherwise couldn’t breakdown. In return for steady meals they manufacture nutrients, help to absorb food, fight harmful bacteria and generally keep your gut a happy place (to use such a scientific term). The vast majority of these bacteria live in the colon. The small intestine and abdomen remain relatively sterile.

Two ways this happy balance can get messed up:

  • Dysbiosis. This means that the balance of bacteria in the gut gets disturbed. Normally this means harmful bacteria grow out of hands and outnumber the friendly bacteria (probiotics).
  • Small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). Problems can also happen when bacteria (good or bad) migrate to the small intestine in large numbers.

Studies in IBS patients show that some form of bacterial problem is present in just about every case. Add to that the fact that antibiotic treatment usually leads to big improvements in IBS symptoms, and you have a strong case for bacterial problems as a cause in IBS.

When fiber turns bad

Fiber is generally considered as healthy, and in most cases this mainstream wisdom is right on the money. But in IBS patients fiber can cause problems. When bacteria eat fiber they ferment it and produce gases and short chain fatty acids. When the bacterial population in the gut is healthy you’ll benefit from those end-products. But when there’s an imbalance or overgrowth of bacteria things aren’t so great.

  • Bloating and gas. These happen when there’s an increase in the number of gas producing bacteria in the gut.
  • Smelly flatulence. This happens when there’s an increase in the number of bacteria that produce hydrogen sulfide and other smelly gases.
  • Abdominal pain. Probiotic bacteria affect the nerves in the gut and moderate pain sensation. Overgrowth of harmful bacteria can thus make the gut lining excessively sensitive. Add excess gas and bloating and you get abdominal pain. The gut may also be hypersensitive to bile, which is another factor in abdominal pain.
  • Constipation. Certain gases produced by bacteria can slow down things in the colon causing constipation.
  • Diarrhea. Other gases can speed up things and attract more water in to the colon leading to diarrhea.

Inflammation

In most IBS cases there’s also low-grade inflammation in the gut. Harmful bacteria are always inflammatory and an increase in their number leads to more inflammation.

When harmful bacteria attaches to the gut wall, they start to break it down. Through the small cracks in the gut lining inflammatory substances can leak into the bloodstream. The body naturally doesn’t like inflammatory substances leaking from the gut. So the immune system responds by attacking the bacteria. This of course creates more inflammation.

Inflammation can hinder gut healing. So getting inflammation under control should be one of your priorities.

With enough inflammation you’ll get diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The main forms of IBD are Chron’s disease and ulcerative colitis. There’s a lot of overlap between IBS and IBD symptoms, so it’s likely that IBD is just an aggravated form of IBS.

Connection to acne

Nobody knows for sure how gut problems cause and aggravate acne. We know that they do, and inflammation is the most likely culprit. Basically, anything that increases inflammation in the body can cause acne.

Gut problems also affect digestion and nutrient absorption and cause shortage of nutrients important for the skin. Finally, and this is little bit of speculation, constant flux of pathogens, inflammatory substances and ‘bad stuff’ from the colon can make the immune system trigger-happy. So it reacts too strongly to otherwise harmless bacteria on the skin.

Science-based gut healing guide

Most papers on IBS note that it’s notoriously difficult to treat. And that most pharmaceuticals do little better than placebos. That said, from everything we’ve talked so far it should be obvious that treating bacterial imbalance is the key to fixing gut issues.

There are several ways we can approach this: antibiotics, pre- and probiotics and managing fiber intake.

Antibiotics

Antibiotics are a double-edged sword. On the other hand overuse of antibiotics probably opened the door for bacterial problems. Most antibiotics aren’t very discriminating. They kill both harmful and helpful bacteria. And in my post about acne antibiotics I talked how they can cause long-term disturbances in the gut flora.

On the other hand, several studies show that antibiotics effectively reduce symptoms in IBS patients. You can kick-start the process with a course in antibiotics that wipes out lot of the gut bacteria. That way you can rebuild from a clean slate.

That said, you absolutely must follow antibiotics with probiotics and gut-friendly diet. Otherwise antibiotics might just aggravate the problem in the long run.

Probiotics

Since the harmful bacteria are behind most of the IBS symptoms it’s no surprise that treatment with probiotics shows improvements across the board. Studies have shown that probiotics can:

  • Suppress inflammation in the gut
  • Repair gut wall and prevent harmful bacteria from attaching to the gut wall
  • Reduce pain sensitivity and alleviate abdominal pain
  • Reduce and normalize intestinal gas production
  • Alleviate constipation and diarrhea

The gains vary from study to study with most showing symptom improvements from 20% to 80% of the patients.

There’s just one problem.

Often the gains are strain-specific. There are hundreds and hundreds of different strains of probiotic bacteria. The genus Lactobacillus alone has over 100 different strains. Many studies make it clear that benefits from one strain often don’t apply to another strain. So we can’t conclude that all probiotics have the same benefits.

You can see where this becomes a problem. Most manufacturers don’t list specific strains included in their supplements. And we don’t yet have enough information to say which strains are best for each condition. I also suspect that the beneficial strains vary a bit from person to person, given the each of us harbors unique mixture of gut bacteria.

So you really have no way of knowing that the probiotic supplements in your local health store are going to help you.

Does this mean you shouldn’t take probiotics? Of course not. It just means we are flying a bit blind here. This is also the reason it’s a good idea to include a wide-variety of fermented foods into your diet. As different foods have different probiotic bacteria strains you’ll ensure a wider intake.

Prebiotics

There’s also the fact that probiotics rarely cause long-term changes to gut bacteria. They can help while you take them, but benefits fade away after you stop taking them. Prebiotics on the other hand are substances that encourage the growth of existing probiotic bacteria in the gut. Most common prebiotics are non-digestible fibers in fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes.

Studies on prebiotics are quite scarce, but they do show similar benefits than probiotics. But they have a possible downside. Since they are fermented they may aggravate IBS symptoms for some people, just like fiber does.

Fiber

Fiber is a bit tricky for people with gut problems. It can help the gut by providing bulk and feed the probiotic bacteria, but many sufferers say it aggravates their IBS symptoms.

We need to make a distinction between the two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber turns gel in water, and it can be fermented by gut bacteria. Insoluble fiber passes through the digestive system with minimal changes. It provides bulk for stools and can bind to toxins and chemicals in the gut.

Both soluble and insoluble fiber can be problematic for IBS patients, but more often than not insoluble fiber is the culprit. For example one study found that cutting insoluble fiber from diet eliminated excess gas from IBS patients.

Fiber for IBS has been studies several times. The overall conclusion is that fiber may be modestly helpful. Here’s a more detailed summary of studies:

  • Overall IBS symptoms: Soluble helpful, insoluble possibly harmful
  • Constipation: Both soluble and insoluble helpful
  • Abdominal pain: Soluble and insoluble either no effect or mildly harmful

From this you might be sorely tempted to just ditch fiber from your diet. But not so fast – I told you fiber is tricky. Because fiber also promotes healthy gut flora:

  • Fiber feeds and encourages the growth of probiotic bacteria.
  • Animal studies show that fiber prevents SIBO, and the only human study noted that SIBO was more common in people with lower fiber intake.
  • Studies on hospitalized patients show that fiber (and probiotics especially) prevents severe post-surgery infections, in medical speak it prevents bacterial translocation.

Fiber and inflammation

There’s also the fact that bacterial fermentation of fiber creates short chain fatty acids (SCFA). In proper amounts these promote gut health. SCFA benefits include:

  • Acidification of gut – hinders growth of harmful bacteria.
  • Anti-inflammatory – regulate immune system in the gut
  • Encourage healing of lesions in the colon
  • Decrease the risk of colon cancer by deactivating carcinogenic substances

Studies comparing ulcerative colitis (UC) patients to health controls show lower SCFA levels and impaired SCFA utilization among UC patients. UC is a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), an aggravated version of IBS. In the same vein, introducing fiber and prebiotics increases SCFA levels and can reduce inflammation levels.

Studies using germinated barley foodstuff have been especially encouraging. It has been shown to:

  • Reduce systemic inflammation in UC patients
  • Reduce UC severity
  • Increase probiotic bacteria concentrations in the gut
  • Reduce remission of UC
  • Improve constipation

In case you are wondering, germinated barley foodstuff is made from brewer’s spent grains by discarding the outer layers of the grain husk. Researchers made it in laboratory for these studies and to my knowledge it’s not commercially available. That said you should get the same benefits from germinated barley.

Other fibers that show positive results:

  • Psyllium husk
  • Oats

Gluten and food intolerances

IBS patients often have some degree of inflammation in the gut. It’s also been shown that worsening of inflammation aggravates IBS symptoms. So it’s no surprise that there’s research connecting IBS to gluten sensitivity, food intolerances and other gut irritants.

Italian scientists at University hospital of Palermo did an interesting study. They put 160 IBS patients on elimination diet that excluded wheat, all forms of dairy products, eggs, tomatoes and chocolate. After 4 weeks on elimination diet they found that 70 (43%) of the patients improved. Then they challenged those 40 people with wheat and cow’s milk. Out of those 40 people 30 had a negative reaction to both wheat and cow’s milk, 6 to cow’s milk alone and 4 to wheat alone.

So in that study 25% of IBS patients were sensitive to wheat, dairy or both. In other studies negative reactions to food challenge tests range from 15% to 71%. The most common problem foods are:

  • Milk
  • Wheat
  • Eggs

In my mind it’s not completely clear whether food sensitivities cause IBS or the other way around. It’s possible that bacterial imbalance and inflammation create the ideal conditions for food sensitivity reactions. It’s possible that once the gut problems are dealt with food sensitivities also go away.

But one thing is clear. While you are healing the gut you need to avoid foods you are sensitive to. Because eating them causes further inflammation and perpetuates the gut issues.

Herbal remedies, enzymes and other stuff

Given how few successful treatments exists for IBS people veer towards alternative therapies. Luckily we have some research to evaluate their effectiveness.

Peppermint oil

Peppermint oil relaxes muscles and few studies show it improves IBS symptoms. One meta-analysis concluded peppermint oil was deemed successful in 58% of the patients vs. 29% success in placebo (the placebo effect in IBS studies is quite large). Note that peppermint oil doesn’t in anyway fix gut issues, it simply masks symptoms. So it’s not a viable long-term solution.

Other herbal remedies

Herbal preparations from Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda have been tested in few studies. Results are very mixed. Some show good results, some show no effect. It’s not surprising that some herbs alleviate symptoms, but it’s impossible to draw any conclusions since different studies use different herbs and preparations. At this point, I would recommend giving a miss to these.

Digestive enzymes

One study looked at digestive enzymes for IBS. It found significant reduction in post-meal bloating after a large fatty meal, but no improvements in gas, abdominal pain or nausea. Chuck it as ‘plausible that this could work, but we just don’t know yet’.

I didn’t see any studies on stomach acid (HCL) supplements. But given how low stomach acid levels are a risk factor in SIBO and bacterial imbalance, HCL supplements may help.

Don’t bother stuff

Here are some treatments that have been studied and very likely are useless in IBS:

  • Ginger
  • Aloe vera
  • Acupuncture, reflexology and other ‘energy therapies’

Making sense of all this and some recommendations

I can’t blame you for feeling a bit confused at this point. We’ve covered a lot of contradicting information. So let’s see if we can make some sense of this.

The big thing to get here is the role gut flora. Abnormal gut flora produces abnormal fermentation and leads to IBS symptoms. So fiber that causes no problems for healthy people may be problematic for IBS sufferers.

Furthermore nobody has exactly the same gut flora. Each of us has unique bacterial composition in the gut. And this can cause individuals to react negative to many so-called healthy foods, see FODMAP intolerance as an example.

This means that we can make generic recommendations that more or less apply to people with gut problems. But it also means that you have to experiment and tweak things to hone down to the specific solution in your situation.

Let’s start with some general suggestions:

  • Eat a wide variety of fermented foods, such as yogurt, sauer kraut, kimchi, miso, tempeh, kefir, kombucha. Usually these are very simple to prepare at home and require just little bit of preparation. For recipes and how to use fermented foods in cooking see Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon (just ignore all the outdated nutrition theories she promotes).
  • Try supplementing with probiotics and prebiotics to encourage normalization of gut flora.
  • Try eating fewer vegetables. Yes, I said it. Fewer veggies may be better for you. Studies provide evidence that some IBS patients have limited tolerance for fiber.
  • Focus on foods that have predominantly soluble fiber (see below). But don’t freak out if and when you eat some insoluble fiber. You may have limited tolerance for it, but even insoluble fiber is important for healthy gut.
  • Try low-FODMAP diet to see if FODMAPs are a problem for you.
  • Cook hard vegetables thoroughly.
  • Remove stems and other tough parts from vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower.
  • Peel fruits and vegetables that high in insoluble fiber, especially apples and potatoes.
  • Eliminate wheat, dairy and eggs for 3 to 4 weeks to see if they cause problems for you.

Vegetables that have lot of insoluble fiber include:

  • Greens (spinach, lettuce, kale, collards, arugula, watercress, etc.)
  • Whole peas, snow peas, snap peas, pea pods
  • Green beans
  • Kernel corn
  • Bell peppers
  • Eggplant
  • Celery
  • Onions, shallots, leeks, scallions, garlic
  • Cabbage, bok choy, Brussels sprouts
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower

Vegetables with mostly soluble fiber:

  • Carrots
  • Winter squash
  • Summer squash (especially peeled)
  • Starchy tubers, yams, sweet potatoes, potatoes – except skins
  • Turnips
  • Rutabagas
  • Parsnips
  • Beets
  • Plantains
  • Taro
  • Yuca

Experiment

Your tolerance to amounts and varieties of fiber-rich foods varies. And experimentation is the only way to get to the bottom of this. Track foods eaten and digestive symptoms in a journal. Pretty soon you should be able to note correlations between symptoms and specific foods.

Summary and take-away messages

  • Some form of bacteria problem is present in most cases of gut problems. This can be disturbance in the bacterial balance (dysbiosis) or bacteria may have migrated to relative sterile small intestine (SIBO).
  • Bacterial problem causes abnormal fermentation of fiber. This contributes to various bowel problems: flatulence, bloating, abdominal pain and elimination problems.
  • Overgrowth of harmful bacteria and leaky gut syndrome cause chronic, low-grade inflammation. This can prevent the gut from healing.
  • Eradicating bacterial problem is one of the keys to gut healing. This normalizes fiber fermentation and encourages gut healing. Antibiotics might be a good way to kick-start the process, but you absolutely must follow them with probiotics and prebiotics.
  • Those with gut problems may have lower tolerance for fiber, and especially for insoluble fiber. Experiment with limited fiber intake.
  • Focus on foods that are high in soluble fiber. Make sure to cook well foods that are high in insoluble fiber. Peel fruits and vegetables.
  • Include a variety of fermented foods into your diet.
  • Experiment with different foods and levels of fiber intake to find what works for you.
  • Investigate the role of food sensitivities. Eliminate common problem foods (wheat, dairy and eggs) for 3 to 4 weeks.
  • Peppermint oil may improve IBS symptoms. Digestive enzymes and stomach acid supplements may help some patients.

So that’s it for this monster of a post. I hope you found it useful. I’d love to hear questions and comments from you, especially if you have your own gut healing story or have figured out your problem foods. So please share your story in the comments below.

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About Me

Hi, I am Acne Einstein(a.k.a. Seppo Puusa). I'm a bit of a science nerd who is also passionate about health. I enjoy digging through medical journals for acne treatment gems I can share here. You can read more about my journey through acne and how I eventually ended up creating this.

References

22 thoughts on “Science-Based Guide To Happy Gut And Healthy Skin

  1. Hey, Seppo,
    Thanks for all the helpful information! However, could you explain what you meant when you said, “Just ignore all the outdated nutrition theories she promotes” when mentioning Nourishing Traditions? That book is like a bible to my family and I, and I honestly think there is no better book out there to follow.
    Thanks a bunch!

    • I have to say I didn’t read it completely. But I found myself shaking my head as I browsed through the first section where she talks about various nutritional theories. The discussion about enzymes particularly caught my eye. That thing has been debunked long time ago.

      But this doesn’t mean her advice would be bad. If you follow her advice and recipes you are likely to eat very healthy and do good things for your health.

      • Thank you very much for your reply! I will probably continue to follow the book for the most part, but if there are small things that have been debunked, that will certainly change my opinion and the way I take her advice. At any rate, I am thankful to know I can always come here for wonderfully rational advice. Take care!

    • Don’t mean to be a hater but sally fallon is fat and overall looks like crap so I don’t understand why you would take nutrition advice from someone like that. Plus most her info is retarded like what seppo said about the enzymes.

  2. Seppo,
    I gave been struggling with many of the symptoms mentioned in the latest article. I traveled out of country in 2009, came home and have had these issues since. I don’t know if I picked up something while I was there or if it was just a time coincidence. I have had an ultrasound that showed severe stomach irritation but they never investigated further. Do you recommend any additional tests to be run?

    • Melissa, it sounds weird that your doctors didn’t investigate the stomach irritation further. Maybe they thought it’s something common that resolves by itself over time.

      If I were you I would definitely get your symptoms checked. It sounds like you have some gut issues, but I can’t really comment further than that. You have to talk to someone with more diagnostic and medical knowledge about the specific tests you need.

  3. Hi Seppo,
    I find it quite confusing that the foods with less insoluble fiber you talked about are exactly the same ones to avoid on a Candida cleansing diet, wich can be the cause of gut problems.. Which path should I follow if I want to heal my guts and hopfully improve the condition of my skin?

    Also the fact that greens, onion and garlic are furthermore well known for their contribution in overall skin health. I’m a bit lost right now..

    • Good question Vince.

      I hope that you don’t take my answer the wrong way, I’m just trying to clear the confusion here.

      What you are doing is setting up a falce equivalency between what sounds like something coming from a dubious alt-med source (the Candida cleanse bit) and information that has some scientific basis.

      In my Candida posts I’ll explain why I don’t think much of it. Most likely Candida is just one of the made up diagnoses by alt-med practitioners. And I’m talking about systemic Candida problems here, not local infections in the skin or the gut.

      I’m saying most likely because there’s an off chance that a thing called Candida hypersensitivity actually exists. Basically Candida ‘toxins’ leak from the gut and cause systemic inflammation. At least two studies have looked into this with negative results, but those are not enough to conclusively disprove it.

      So to answer your first question, Candida cleanses are pure alt-med quackery. Sure, restricting carbohydrates and other Candida cleanse forbidden foods is probably good for you, but not because they somehow starve Candida.

      On to your other points. Those foods are ‘well known for their contribution in overall skin health’, says who? What’s the basis or evidence for making that claim?

      I’m by no means saying those foods aren’t healthy or couldn’t be good for your skin. Just that rarely, if ever, a speficic food makes a positive effect on acne. It’s more about your overall diet.

      And finally, and this is one of my biggest frustrations with alt-med, is that acne is infinitely more complicated than most alt-med and natural sources tell you.

      In this case, yes, greens and onions can be good for the skin, but they can also be horribly bad. I don’t have any problems with greens and eat them almost every day in my salads. But give me enough raw onions and my gut goes haywire and 2 days later my skin breaks out. Yet, another person can easily eat as much onions as they prefer.

      So we have to look at the individual person and understand how their body reacts to foods.

      Finally (this time for real), gut issues are not a problem for every acne patient. It’s one of the possible things that contribute to acne. But so many things can lead to acne that no single ’cause’ is a problem for every acne patient. That’s why it can be so confusing to get to the bottom of this 🙂

  4. 4 days of research and you missed the extensive literature on a widely used treatment method for IBD? How did you miss this? The research, especially in cases where the IBD is caused by clostridium difficile, supports this method as superior to the other methods you describe in your article. At least you should mention it! Here is one of the many research papers available, this one from 2004. Much new research in this arena has gone on in the last few years – you really should examine it – and if you are choosing to ignore this body of research, at least you should state why:

    https://www.cdd.com.au/pdf/publications/paper12.pdf

    • John, I presume you are talking about fecal transplantation?

      Why did I miss it? Because it wasn’t prominently mentioned in any of the papers I had access to. And looking at the paper you linked to, I’m not too surprised. What you refer as ‘extensive literature’ is really just 10+ case series or case report papers and a few small trials. This is hardly a widely studied or used treatment. In fact the paper you linked to referred it as the last resort treatment.

      I actually heard about it, I think last week, and it looks like it has potential in treatment of gut issues. Basically, it’s just a way to treat bacterial imbalance in the gut – something I talked a lot in this post. But it’s not something you can do at home. And this blog is more focused on things you can do yourself.

      Finally, I don’t really know what you expect of me. I make it quite clear that I’m not a doctor and don’t have extensive medical training. I consider myself scientifically literate enough to read medical studies and papers, but I don’t have extensive background knowledge of diseases. And especially so when we move away from skin issues. I did quite a bit of reading on gut issues before writing this post, and still think that I did a fairly good job at summarizing the relevant issues. But you seem to think it’s some grave error from my part to miss an obscure (but probably effective) treatment that’s not even mentioned in most papers.

      The point of this post is to help people with acne to both understand how their gut may affect the skin, and to give them some reasonable suggestions to follow. It’s by no means a comprehensive review of all the gut problems. It’s a blog post for god’s sake.

  5. What yohurts do you recommend eating? there are so many different types how I do I know which ones actually contain probitotics?

    • There are regulations concerning the use of the work yogurt, and anything labelled as yogurt must have a certain amount of live probiotics. But the yogurts labeled with live active cultures probably have more than normal yogurts. One problem with store-bought yogurts is they often have too much sugar and other additives.

      My recommendation is to make your own yogurt. It’s ridiculously simple. I just buy normal full-fat milk and unflavored yogurt from 7-11. The point is that there’s nothing special about my starting ingredients. Then just mix the yogurt with milk and put into yogurt maker or warm place for 8 to 18 hours. The yogurt normally sets in 8 hours and is thus ready to eat. But I like to keep the fermentation going for 18 hours (more or less). That way the yogurt has more live bacteria and tangier taste.

  6. Hello again sir Seppo!

    How are you doing?

    From your comment above, what kind of milk are you referring by “I just buy normal full-fat milk”? Could that be cow’s? If so, then would the acne-inducing property of milk (https://www.acneeinstein.com/does-milk-cause-acne/) cancel or even surpass the acne-reducing property of yogurt? Or if so, does cow’s milk have a property that when you mixed it by yogurt the resultant mixture would in totality be acne-reducing?

    Another one, I’ve heard that there is some isolated “beneficial bacteria” tablet/pills such as acidophilus (https://nutritionfacts.org/questions/what-is-a-good-source-of-probiotics/ ; https://doctorklaper.com/answers/answers06/). Do you prefer yogurt than tablet/pill form? If so, why?

    Thanks!

    • I’m referring to milk as most people understand it, i.e. pasteurized cow’s milk. Yogurt has both positive and negative effects on the skin. On some people acne is linked to gut issues, and for such people taking probiotics may help. I emphasize may as it’s by no means proven that probiotics do anything. You can search this blog for probiotics and you should find the posts where I discuss this in detail. Yogurt being dairy can also increase the hormones linked to acne. I believe yogurt is not as bad as milk as the fermentation process consumes about 75% of the IGF-1 content in milk. But that by no mean makes it completely skin-safe.

      Whether yogurt is good, bad or neutral on the skin varies from person to person. I have no problems eating yogurt (or drinking milk), but I’ve heard from people who breakout after eating yogurt.

      I eat yogurt mostly because I enjoy it. It may help the gut, but as I mentioned in other posts, I’m less than convinced that probiotics actually do anything good. Contrary to what those good doctors claim, research on the benefits of probiotics is not very convincing.

  7. Seppo, I’m a bit confused. You say legumes cause gas for some people but I am still to meet someone who doesn’t have gas after eating beans or lentils. I mean, I don’t think they are problematic only for people with IBS, I don’t know of a single person who can handle them without gas. However, I still love them.

    • I should clarify that gas isn’t necessarily a problem. Beans and legumes contain fiber humans can’t digest, but the bacteria in the gut can, and that’s what’s causing the gas. This isn’t necessarily problematic. Some people get worse digestive symptoms (cramping, bloating, etc.) from legumes and such symptoms are more likely to indicate IBS or other problem that may show up on the skin.

  8. Thanks for the fast reply sir Seppo!

    Oh I see, so you don’t believe the “beneficial bacteria” or probiotics could help on the gut-acne problem. If so, then it seems, based on what I’ve read here so far, that the only direct solution/help we can do to this problem is the FODMAP diet (that which I seem to find hard, at least for me, because I’m following a vegan diet and I find some essential foods, at least for me considering capacity and availability, to be restricted).

    Anyways, thanks again!

    • It’s really less about what I believe and more about what the studies say. Some studies show encouraging results in IBS and other gut-related problems, but even those studies show probiotics are a far cry from the miracle solutions they are touted to be. It’s possible they work and we just don’t know enough to use them properly yet. I also don’t think they fix the root issues that cause gut problems.

      Gut issues, unfortunately, are very difficult to treat. The only effective way, that I know of, to keep my gut under control is to avoid eating FODMAPs that trigger the problem. It’s possible that a course of antibiotics could correct the bacterial overgrowth problem that often causes FODMAP intolerance, but I haven’t tried that yet.

      Re probiotics, the best I can say now is to try them. It’s possible they work but it’s equally possible they don’t work.

  9. What do you think about bovine colostrum for acne? (I’m talking internally not topically of course)From what I’ve read, it seems like it would be pretty helpful considering it seals the gut and fights inflammation. I’m surprised not to see it mentioned more often in regards to healing leaky gut.

    • I didn’t mention bovine colostrum since it was never mentioned in any of the research papers I read. I spent the last 30 minutes glancing over research on this and it seems this could again be one of those cases where what’s touted on various health blogs and what science says don’t match.

      If you have sources for these claims, I’ll be happy to take a look at them.

      In the meanwhile, here’s what my quick and dirty research uncovered.

      Colostrum seems to be helpful in treating and preventing diarrhea. This is not surprising as it contains various immune factors and seems to prevent bacteria from sticking to the gut wall.

      As to claims it sealing the gut and reducing inflammation, I’m much more skeptical. I did found some animal data that showed it might be helpful in the early days of prematurely birthed animals. Again, not hugely surprising as infant (I use the word to describe both humans and animals), get various immune factors from the mother’s milk. This helps to initially train the immune system. In infants deprived of mother’s milk it’s plausible that using bovine colostrum could deliver some of these missing immune factors.

      Now, you absolutely cannot conclude from this that adult humans, who received the same immune factors from mother’s milk, would benefit from colostrum.

      The human data on the effect of bovine colostrum on intestinal permeability seems both sparse and mixed. I found a handful of studies that looked whether bovine colostrum supplementation could reduce post-exercise increase in intestinal permeability.

      One study showed it does, another showed no effect, while a third study showed colostrum supplements increase intestinal permeability.

      What to make of this? I don’t know. To me this seems like random noise you’ll see in studies and would suggest no effect. It certainly shows there’s no consistent effect and that the benefits, if any, are probably fairly small.

      A 2009 review showed colostrum supplementation might be helpful for athletes, but even that review said the data is noisy and contradictory.

      You might also want to check Examine.com’s article on Colostrum. They usually have good data on supplements, though in this case I think they are too optimistic regarding effect on intestinal permeability.

  10. Hi,
    so I know I have some gut problems, mainly with constipation (no pain unless I have been through a really traumatic event then yes so like once a year depending on ‘unfortune’ hah). But, I tried elimination diets for so long. I even removed wheat altogether, along with milk and eggs for months with no difference (or no noticed difference). I eventually started using psyllium, and beef-gelatin and things are going great. Every morning before breakfast like clockwork. Now, I do eat healthy but I am always bloated no matter what I eat, I have tried so many combinations. I even follow ‘food combining’ rules. The only other variable there is, it the fact that I have pretty severe anxiety sometimes. It is better now, but yeah still there. If I am calmer, then yes my stomach feel a lot calmer (but not completely sure about this). I’m so confused. Is it about bacteria or my mental state? It has become better (stomach) but I have also received a lot of help mentally and so I am better psychologically too. Looking for answers always gets me so agitated because honestly it sounds gross and also very depressing, like my whole stomach is attacking me with these ‘bad bacteria.’ Further, to rid of this ‘candida’ or other I have to buy all of this stuff or like eat chicken for the rest of my life (what holistic doctors have told me). Also, with leaky gut I have to buy a 400 euro blood test or I will get a lot worse and die or something.

    In short: no pain, just bloat, constipation gone with psyllium and great lakes gelatin. Other variables: anxiety, has had eating disorder in the past (recovered now though since like a year back). Can’t notice any differences with different food, I eat FodMap, food combing, and mostly paleo, I drink kombucha, and eat manuka honey in tea. Coconut oil and coconut yoghurt. I am super clean but if I eat like chocolate or something bad like gluten I don’t react any differently at all, same bloat as always.

    Some REAL help would really be appreciated!

    • Sounds like you’ve already found some very effective treatments. I don’t think gut issues are either/or type of a thing. As far as I understand, they can be multifactorial and both the type of bacteria in the gut and stress/mental state can affect how your gut functions.

      So far I haven’t found any really good treatments from reading scientific research. Changing the bacterial in the gut, either with antibiotics or probiotics, sometimes helps. Reducing stress helps quite often. Eliminating trigger foods helps.

      I have to try beef gelatin. Paleo proponents recommend beef broth for auto-immune issues. I suspect it’s because beef gelatin, or whatever gets leached from the bones, helps seal the gut and reduces the amount of inflammatory material leaking into the body.

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