Does Gut health really affect your skin?
Yes it does! It's not for nothing that Ayurveda and Chinese medicine have often used face mapping techniques to understand and diagnose skin problems as they relate to gut and digestive issues.
Nourished Life puts it simply – when skin conditions do not respond well to traditional skin care treatment, it’s time to look at your gut. “Gut problems and indigestion can actually affect the way your body retains the nutrients found in your diet, leading to poor absorption of the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants needed to keep skin looking healthy and potentially worsening existing skin conditions”.
Good Bacteria, Bad Bacteria
According to author and scientist Giulia Enders, quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald, a healthy gut contains a wealth of good bacteria which needs to be supported properly in order to limit the growth of bad bacteria. Without this balance, our immune systems must work harder in order to keep us healthy, so it's important to feed the good bacteria with probiotics and fermented foods to ensure healthy body function and general wellbeing.
How do you get to a healthy gut? To start with, the traditional advice of a diet rich in fibre, plenty of water, exercise, adequate sleep and stress management come to mind. But let’s go beyond that. Lee Holmes, founder of Supercharged Food, has some interesting suggestions.
- Limit your desserts! Even if you're opting for raw, refined-sugar free options, the nuts found in many raw desserts can be too harsh on the gut and lead to pain and irritability.
- Limit your consumption of milks, yoghurts and soups which can contain additives, thickeners, stabilisers and emulsifiers that cause excessive gas and bloating.
- Cleanse the gut often by incorporating easy to digest foods into your diet. This means saying no to processed food and sugar and limiting alcohol consumption.
Pre-biotics and Probiotics – where do I find them and why should I care?
Prebiotics are nondigestible carbohydrate compounds that stimulate the growth of certain bacteria in the gut. These occur naturally in foods like leeks, asparagus, garlic, onions, wheat, oats and soybeans. They're also in foods with carbohydrates, like psyllium, bananas, whole grain wheat and whole grain corn.
Probiotics are found in some already well known and loved food sources like Yogurt, Kefir, Kimchi, Miso and Kombucha.
A good mix of prebiotics and probiotics in your diet are really fundamental in ensuring good gut health.
BBC GoodFood has some really nice gut friendly recipes – go check them out here.
Finally, the benefits of good gut health go way beyond your skin. Your gut microbiome is an integral part of your body's immune response, which is one of the reasons doctors say a balanced diet can help your body heal when you aren't feeling well. The bacteria in your gut also impact your digestive health, metabolic health and cardiovascular health, according to a study outlined in Circulation Research.