How our gut is connected to our skin!
Updated: Aug 27, 2019
Your gut and skin are inter-related and we call this the skin - gut axis!
When the gut is not functioning optimally, we typically see it show up in our skin, be it dry skin, acne, rosacea or eczema. Have you ever had a really salty meal or drank lots of alcohol and the next day you look like a puffer fish and your skin is dry? This is a great example of how what we eat and drink directly impacts our skin and in particular, our face.
Studies have demonstrated that gut bacteria can positively impact the response to disturbed skin barrier function. This means that it is essential to nourish our gut with prebiotic and probiotic foods, and eat natural, whole foods, that encourage the growth of healthy bacteria and give our bodies essential vitamins and minerals.
What are probiotic foods?
Probiotics are live microorganisms that contain beneficial bacteria to re-establish healthy gut flora. Foods rich in probiotics are
Yogurt, Kefir, Sauerkraut, Tempeh, Kimchi, Miso and Kombucha.
In order to re-establish a healthy gut flora, you may also like to take a probiotic supplement that contains beneficial bacteria such as bifidobacteria and lactobacillus for one month and see if that makes a difference to your your skin!
What are prebiotic foods?
Prebiotics are types of dietary fibre that feed the friendly bacteria already existing in your gut. The best types of prebiotic foods are things like Dandelion greens, Garlic, Onions, Leeks, Asparagus, Bananas, Oats, Seaweed, Flaxseeds and Cocoa. If you do not consume enough of these foods or do not like the taste of them, then I recommend taking a good quality prebiotic supplement.
What are Natural whole foods?
Natural whole foods are foods that are derived straight from nature - that have not gone through a process where they have been stripped of their natural compounds, ie, nutrients. They contain high amounts of nutrients and antioxidants.
You want to be eating a diet rich in colourful fruits and vegetables (organic wherever you can) to provide the nutrients necessary for radiant skin. The main vitamins necessary for skin health include vitamins A, C, E and D. Foods rich in these essential vitamins are foods such as Kale, Broccoli, Spinach, Brussel sprouts, Peppers, Citrus fruits, Eggs and wild caught Salmon / Fatty fish.
Zinc is another essential mineral that strengthens the skin barrier and encourages collagen production. The best food sources for zinc are Oysters, Crab, Organic grass fed meat, Pumpkin seeds, Yogurt, Chickpeas, Nuts and Oats.
Our skin and gut LOVE healthy fats! This is your omega-3 fatty acids, which not only protect your skin against ageing, but also provide benefit to the skin’s immune response. The best kinds of omega- 3 foods are Salmon, Mackerel, Tuna, Nuts and Seeds (such as flaxseed, chia seeds, and walnuts), and Eggs.
The bad stuff…
Processed foods and drinks, among medications, are the biggest contributor to gut in-balances and inflammation. They quite literally feed the bad bacteria and are the culprits behind infections and bacteria overgrowth (candida).
The foods I highly recommend avoiding or reducing where you can are gluten, dairy, refined sugar and carbohydrates, soy, corn and alcohol. I say “reduce” because I want to be realistic here. Unless you have an intolerance to the above then having these things occasionally should be fine given you take good care of your gut majority of the time!
And finally.. Hydration!
Hydration is imperative for gut and skin health. Our bodies are around 65 % water and each and every one of our organs is made up of water. Getting good, quality water is the best way to hydrate our organs and our cells, as well as help flush out unwanted chemicals and reduce inflammation.