SUGGESTED FOODS FOR BEAUTIFUL SKIN
There are many that believe your skin is a real reflection of what might be going on a much deeper level, crucially the health of your gut. Whilst skin health is usually a much more complex and multi factorial issue there is certainly reasons why having a gut that is functioning at its best can also have your skin glowing too!
YOU ARE WHAT YOU ABSORB – GUT IMBALANCE?
Gut imbalances mean you might not necessarily be absorbing all of your nutrients – this could be down to imbalances in the microbiome, the trillions of microorganisms that reside in the gut and play an important role in the uptake of nutrients. It may also be the case that your gut could be lacking in stomach acid production and /or digestive enzymes. This can also have a marked impact on how well you are breaking down, absorbing and up-taking nutrients. It therefore becomes a case of not what you are eating but more you are what you absorbing. The best way to check this out its to work with a practitioner that may order a complete blood count and a comprehensive metabolic panel test. A more basic way to check your stomach acid levels is using the Baking Soda. It’s by no means comprehensive but may give you an indication. Simply mix 1/4tsp of baking soda to 4oz of fresh water and drink on waking, before eating or drinking. If you don’t burp at all or take longer than 5 minutes, then you have low stomach acid. The test triggers a chemical reaction when the baking soda mixes with the stomach acid. Stomach acid is carbon dioxide gas so if you have enough you will burp within a very short time.
GOOD BUGS DON’T JUST LIVE IN THE GUT
The second biggest population of our microorganisms outside of the gut reside on our skin and just like antibiotics can be a bit of a problem to the gut so can lots of antibacterial agents on the skin. Essentially, we need to work with and cultivate our own ecosystem, which starts with probiotics in the gut that in turn effect our entire bacterial population. It’s more about nurturing than obliterating. Moreover, changing the environment of the gut to cultivate a more hospitable home for the more beneficial bacteria whilst a not so happy place for the disruptive microorganisms that can affect our skin health. Taking a good probiotic and fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, kefir and plenty of fresh water.
IS IT AN INFLAMMATORY THING?
There is research to suggest that conditions like acne are inflammatory in their nature and that this can be due to a more permeable intestinal barrier. In essence substances that should stay in the gut can potentially ‘leak’ into the blood stream and set off a cascade of inflammatory responses that often manifest in the skin. So, in order to help maintain the integrity of the gut barrier it’s important to include plenty of gut nourishing foods such as Vitamin C rich foods such as peppers, broccoli and berries that promote the production of collagen. Also, foods that are rich in vitamin A and Pro vitamin A, beta carotene such as oranges, vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots, butternut squash and pumpkin. Plus, all of the green leafy varieties such as kale, collard and spinach. It is crucial that you pair these with an oil of some sort as Vitamin A is a fat-soluble Vitamin which you need if you want to absorb and reap the benefits. Good sources of fats are also important for supporting the barrier of the gut so including ones such as coconut milk, can be really beneficial. The other Vitamin that is necessary for maintaining a robust gut and where deficiency can often be linked to skin health is Vitamin D so if you are not getting some sunshine any time soon then it could be wise to supplement throughout the winter months.
THE EFFECT OF CHRONIC STRESS
Simply stress = inflammation. Inflammation is a compromised gut and skin symptoms. The unfortunate part of this is that the more we get the skin symptoms the more stressed we become and that alone effects our gut health which loops back to the above points. The other point of stress, in particular the hormones that are released, is that they have a knock-on effect to the rest of our hormones that can also drive skin symptoms. This becomes a perpetual loop of stress and skin issues. Therefore, including regular activities like yoga, pilates and meditation (if you can’t get to a class, apps are even great for this) can help but even more simply, taking time to really enjoy and savour your food, chewing properly and eating without distraction can create gradual recovery throughout the day and allow you, your gut and your skin to rest and digest.
LIST OF FOODS GOOD FOR THE GUT
Fermented foods – such as unpasteurised sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, kefir, kombucha, miso and pickled ginger all contain high levels of probiotics that are generated during the fermentation process and this supports a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut.
Broccoli, kale, cabbage – all contain glycosylates that help to switch on anti-inflammatory markers binding onto potential pathogenic substances in the colon and removing them out of the body. They also support natural detoxification processes.
Bananas – work as a prebiotic to stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut due to inulin, a type of resistant starch. Plus, bananas provide a source of potassium that plays an essential role in smooth muscle function helping support the movement of the gut.
Apples – contain pectin in their skin that the microbes love to eat. This supports a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut and it also helps to maintain regularity.
Nuts –are a good source of polyphenols that help bacteria to product antioxidant & anti-inflammatory substances.
Chia & flax seeds – provide plant based omega 3 oils that help support anti-inflammatory processes in the gut as well as being fibre rich to promote regular movements.
Garlic & onions – allium family vegetables in their most raw state contain inulin that is an excellent prebiotic source. Garlic is also one of the most potent natural antibiotics you can get that helps keep a healthy balance of microbes in the gut.
Avocado– contains healthy fats as well as being a good source of glutathione that helps to support natural detoxification and elimination processes.
Cultured or probiotic products – Most commonly yoghurt or look for a non-dairy option.
Coconut oil – is one of nature’s best natural anti-microbial helping to support the beneficial bacteria whilst managing the not so friendly bugs.
Sweet potatoes – contain fermentable fibres that help to support the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut.