Gut health and your skin

For some time now, the intestine has become a topic that people from very different perspectives are dealing with in different media and have thus brought our organ back into the consciousness of people in the Western world. Books about the intestines have become bestsellers, nutrition docs on television help people to alleviate various complaints with targeted changes in diet and explain what role the intestines play in these contexts, and the incredible number of podcasts and articles on the Internet is growing deal with our digestive organ, daily.

Why do people today always want to know how their intestines work? The increased interest is certainly due to the scientific findings that show that it is much more than just a digestive organ. The connections between the intestines and other health aspects are so extensive and are aggressively marketed by providers of various products, especially on the Internet, that it makes sense to devote ourselves intensively to this complex of topics. We want to find out together how the intestines work, how our diet influences (intestinal) health and of course how we can use the connections for the health of our skin and our appearance.

A quick overview

The intestine is by far the largest human organ; in adults it has a surface area of ​​around 200 square meters. This is roughly the size of a tennis court. It is also the largest organ of the human immune system, with around 70 percent of a person's immune cells located in the intestine.

From the stomach, the porridge made of crushed food and gastric juice passes in small portions into the small intestine, which is the longest part of our digestive system at 5 to 6 meters. Here the nutrients are broken down into their smallest building blocks with the help of digestive juices so that they can be absorbed into the blood through the intestinal wall. In order to provide the largest possible surface area for food intake, the intestinal wall is folded and additionally provided with protuberances, depressions and cell processes.

Our large intestine is an effective recycler of leftovers, thickening the chyme and absorbing some minerals. Special cells secrete mucus to make the feces more slippery. Most of the trillions of intestinal bacteria live in the large intestine; around a thousand species are now known. They help the body digest fiber from plant foods.

In the past, the intestines in the Western world were primarily viewed as purely a digestive organ. However, recent scientific findings show a much more comprehensive picture: It seems that our immune system, metabolism, body weight and even our mood are influenced directly from the gut. The intestinal flora plays a central role. When this complex ecosystem becomes unbalanced, it can have far-reaching effects on our health and well-being.

The tasks of the intestine

  • Digestion of food: Food is broken down and absorbed in the small intestine with the help of enzymes. Electrolytes are removed from the chyme in the large intestine.
  • Absorption of water and thickening of the food pulp : In the large intestine, around 90 percent of its fluid is removed from the food pulp, which reaches the liver via the blood vessels in the intestinal wall and from there into the bloodstream.
  • Formation of immune cells and defense against pathogens : The intestine is home to a variety of immune cells that help fight off infections and diseases. In addition, the intestine is also involved in the production of antibodies that help recognize and fight harmful bacteria and viruses. The beneficial bacteria in the intestinal flora ensure that harmful bacteria cannot spread and thus form the protective intestinal barrier.
  • Production of hormones and neurotransmitters: The gut plays an important role in the production of hormones and neurotransmitters, which are important in regulating various body functions. One example is serotonin, an important neurotransmitter in the brain that is important for regulating mood, sleep, appetite and other functions. Serotonin is also produced in the intestines and can influence intestinal movement and pain perception.
  • Excretion of waste: The intestines are also responsible for excreting waste and undigested food from the body. They are transported to the rectum with the help of muscle movements.

The intestinal flora and the microbiome

If you know that intestinal bacteria are involved in almost all of the processes just mentioned, it quickly becomes clear that our intestinal inhabitants do much more than break down our food. In addition to the intestines, bacteria also live on the skin and all our mucous membranes. Science assumes that the number of human cells in a body and the number of bacteria that populate it are approximately equal. In a body weighing 70 kilos, that's around 39 trillion bacteria. However, due to their small size, they only make up around 0.3 percent of our body weight. Most bacteria are located in the large intestine, but microorganisms, including yeast and viruses, live in all parts of the digestive tract. The entirety of all the genes of the microorganisms that colonize us is called the microbiome.

As a rule, the human body is home to around 150 species of bacteria, which compete with each other for the breeding ground to spread. Most of them are useful for us by participating in the previously mentioned tasks of the intestines and do not cause disease, but others can make you sick under certain conditions.

The tasks of the intestinal flora

  • Digestive support: Colon bacteria utilize indigestible food components such as fiber that human enzymes cannot break down.
  • Intestinal mucosa care : Intestinal bacteria ferment fiber and produce short-chain fatty acids such as acetate, butyrate and propionic acid, which intestinal cells use as an energy source and regulate their growth.
  • Metabolism & Energy : Intestinal bacteria provide around 10% of daily calories through fiber breakdown and influence sugar and fat metabolism regulation.
  • Colonization resistance : Healthy intestinal flora prevents harmful bacterial proliferation by consuming food and oxygen, producing antibodies, and creating an acidic environment that promotes good bacteria.
  • Vitamin production : Our intestinal bacteria produce important vitamins such as: B. Vitamin K and various B vitamins.
  • Intestinal barrier maintenance : The intestinal flora competes with pathogens for food, helps seal the intestinal wall cells, and produces short-chain fatty acids that protect the intestinal wall to prevent pathogens and pollutants from entering the blood.
  • Training and development of the immune system : The intestinal flora is stimulated and influenced by the immune system. This training helps tolerate beneficial bacteria and fight pathogens, thereby avoiding false reactions such as food allergies or autoimmune diseases.

Imbalance of intestinal flora

Dysbiosis is a medical term for a disturbed intestinal flora, which can manifest itself in reduced bacterial diversity or an imbalance between beneficial and harmful bacteria. Long-term dysbiosis can lead to health problems and complaints. Symptoms of a disturbed intestinal flora include abdominal pain, a feeling of fullness, flatulence, diarrhea, greasy and foul-smelling stools and constipation. These problems usually occur directly in the digestive tract. In addition, a disturbed intestinal flora can weaken the immune system, which increases the susceptibility to infections (e.g. colds, fungal infections). Cravings, fatigue and food intolerances can also indicate dysbiosis.

Scientific research suggests that disrupted intestinal flora could also be linked to various other illnesses and health problems. These include irritable bowel syndrome, fungal infections, allergies, skin diseases, rheumatic diseases, migraines, obesity, diabetes mellitus, hardening of the arteries (arteriosclerosis), depression and autism spectrum disorders.

However, it is important to emphasize that research into the connections between intestinal flora and these diseases is still ongoing. Further studies are needed to gain a full understanding of the complex relationships between gut health and various health problems.

Skin diseases and intestinal flora

Yes, there is evidence of connections between intestinal flora and skin diseases. The gut-skin axis describes the bidirectional communication between the digestive system and the skin. A disturbed intestinal flora can influence the immune system and inflammatory reactions in the body, which can manifest itself in various skin diseases.

Some skin diseases that are associated with disturbed intestinal flora are:

  • Acne : Studies have shown that acne patients often have changes in their intestinal flora.
  • Eczema (atopic dermatitis): This inflammatory skin condition is associated with an increased risk of dysbiosis and intestinal problems.
  • Psoriasis : People with psoriasis often have altered gut flora, suggesting a link between this autoimmune disease and impaired gut health.
  • Rosacea : This skin condition also has evidence of a connection to intestinal health.

While there is some evidence of these connections, further research is still needed to gain a complete understanding of the role of the intestinal flora in skin diseases and to develop targeted therapeutic approaches. If you suffer from any of these conditions, it is important to consult a dermatologist to receive the right treatment.

Influences from outside

The development of the intestinal flora begins at birth, when the so-called “initial colonization” occurs. In a natural birth, the intestinal flora of the newborn resembles the mother's vaginal flora, while in a cesarean section it resembles the composition of the mother's skin bacteria. Breastfeeding has a positive effect on the intestinal flora in the first months of life.

An individual and relatively stable intestinal flora only develops in the second or third year of life. In adulthood, the intestinal flora remains a dynamic ecosystem and can be influenced by various factors such as diet, medication and stress. Factors influencing the intestinal flora include genes, route of birth, breastfeeding, diet, age, state of health and medications such as antibiotics, cortisone and painkillers.


Disturbed intestinal flora can become particularly evident after antibiotic treatment. Antibiotics are an effective treatment against bacterial infections, but they cannot distinguish between harmful bacteria and beneficial intestinal bacteria. This attacks the natural intestinal flora and can lead to what is known as “antibiotic-associated diarrhea” in some patients. Following antibiotic therapy, viral infections also occur more frequently because the intestinal barrier and immune function are still weakened. It is therefore important to rebuild the intestinal flora after antibiotic treatment in order to restore digestion and intestinal health. This process can take anywhere from several weeks to several months.

Support intestinal flora

There are various ways to support the recovery of the intestinal flora after antibiotic treatment and generally ensure that it remains in balance:

  • Probiotics : Probiotics are live microorganisms that can support the intestinal flora. They can be taken as dietary supplements or found in fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir and sauerkraut.
  • Prebiotics : Prebiotics are dietary components such as fiber that can promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut.
  • Healthy diet : Eating a balanced diet rich in fiber, fruits, vegetables, and probiotic foods can help support gut health.
  • Avoiding harmful substances : It is important to avoid harmful substances such as alcohol and tobacco as these can affect the intestinal flora.
  • Reducing stress : Chronic stress can affect gut health. Relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation and breathing exercises can help reduce stress and support gut health.
  • Healthy sleep : Research has shown that disturbed sleep quality and a disturbed sleep-wake rhythm can affect the balance of intestinal flora.

You see, you can do a lot by organizing your life, your diet and by avoiding harmful substances that will have a positive effect on your intestinal flora. If you suffer from any of the diseases mentioned in this article related to gut health, you may be able to achieve improvement this way. In this case, please seek medical advice in any case.

Maybe you would like and are interested in registering for our “Women and Sleep” course because healthy sleep can positively influence your life on so many levels. You will soon find this as an on demand course on the site.

Or you would like to take more time for yourself and do more self-care and practice self-love as part of our WELLBEING MEMBERSHIP .

There is a special lymphatic massage for the intestines and digestion in our SPRING BODY DETOX 2023 course - it starts next week, and you can still register for this too.