Here’s How Dietary Fiber In the Gut May Help With Skin Allergies


Fiber is a crucial part of an individual’s diet as this non-digestible aspect of plant foods has an essential role in the body’s overall metabolic function. Previous research demonstrates that dietary fiber helps prevent various diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and different types of cancers, such as colon cancer.

More so, scientists stated that dietary fiber helps regulate the body’s overall gastrointestinal health. However, the benefits of fiber to the body are not only limited to the inside. A new study exploring the emerging gut-skin axis has found that microbial fermentation of dietary fiber in the gut can potentially help protect against particular skin allergies.

The study’s researchers hypothesized that a low fiber intake, characteristic of a westernized lifestyle, can impact skin barrier dysfunction and the following tendency for early allergen sensitization. This article will summarize some of its essential findings on how dietary fiber in the gut may help with skin allergies.

How Can The Gut Affect The Skin?

Evidence suggests that chronic inflammatory disorders, including autoimmune and type 2 allergic diseases, have increased worldwide over the past years. 

A source stated that around 20 million people suffer from any allergic disease, 10 million have active allergic symptoms in any year, and at least 2.5 million people, or 1 in 6 of those with allergies, have severe symptoms that require medical help. 

A growing body of literature that the rapid and recent prevalence of allergic epidemics results from environmental and behavioral changes collectively known as the “westernized lifestyle.” It has been hypothesized that this lifestyle could cause epithelial barrier dysfunction, which leads to the enhanced entry of allergens at mucosal surfaces, systemic allergen sensitization, and, ultimately, the development of allergic diseases.

The 2022 study published in the Mucosal Immunology pondered on this relationship. It tested this hypothesis by developing an experimental model where skin barrier dysfunction was triggered by exposing dorsal murine skin to ubiquitous house dust mite (HDM) allergens, which possess protease activity.

The researchers fed mice a diet high in fermentable fiber or gave them purified SCFAs, which are a profoundly protective treatment against allergic skin inflammation, before exposing their skin to house dust mite allergens.

The mice were either fed a control, high-fiber, or low-fiber diet supplemented with Butyrate. The high-fiber diet contained inulin, which is a fermentable fiber that feeds the good bacteria in the gut. The gut bacteria convert inulin and other fermentable fibers into short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) as a byproduct, including Butyrate.

Short-chain fatty acids have a wide range of effects, primarily acting as fuel for the metabolism of some cells. In this study, the researchers found that the short-chain fatty acid, Butyrate, boosted keratinocytes and increased their differentiation, improving the skin barrier.

With this, the researchers stated that if a person’s skin barrier can be improved, there is a significant chance that this person, particularly those at risk of allergies, can be protected from having immune responses against allergens. This would then lead to protection against diseases like atopic dermatitis, food allergies, and asthma.

The researchers further stated that since short-chain fatty acids can be given topically and are well-tolerated, it opens up avenues for developing preventative interventions or disease-modifying strategies, demonstrating this research’s significance.

One of these possibilities includes exploring whether this could benefit children at risk of developing skin allergies that lead to food allergies and asthma or the so-called Atopic March.

In sum, the study demonstrated that dietary fiber intake is essential for improving skin barrier function, consequently preventing allergen entrance and subsequent sensitization and disease. Finally, the research supports the concept that reduced SCFA levels, characteristic of a low-fiber diet and a “westernized lifestyle,” damage epithelial barrier function and emphasize the gut-skin axis as a primary mechanism supporting protection against allergies and atopic dermatitis.

Journal Reference

Trompette, A., Pernot, J., Perdijk, O., Alqahtani, R. A., Domingo, J. S., Camacho-Muñoz, D., Wong, N. C., Kendall, A. C., Wiederkehr, A., Nicod, L. P., Nicolaou, A., von Garnier, C., Ubags, N. D., & Marsland, B. J. (2022). Gut-derived short-chain fatty acids modulate skin barrier integrity by promoting keratinocyte metabolism and differentiation. Mucosal Immunology, 15(5), 908–926. 

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