By Carla Oates
To discover a radiance that no amount of cosmetics can replicate, it’s no secret that we must first feed our skin from within.
At The Beauty Chef, we are passionate about educating our community on the importance of nourishing your skin from the inside out—cultivating a rich and diverse microbiome for radiant skin, improved immunity and optimal wellbeing. Science is also continuing to prove the connection between our gut health and skin health—highlighting how our complexion is truly a reflection of what is happening internally.
Put simply, our outer glow begins deep within our digestive system and our skin and gut are in constant communication with one another via what is known as the gut-skin axis. This incredible pathway allows the gut and skin to converse, mainly via the microbiome—and as our largest organ, our skin is often the first place to show us when something is a little out of balance in our belly. If we experience issues within our digestive tract, it can not only trigger gut health symptoms, but skin problems such as rashes, inflammation, blemishes and skin congestion, too.
On the flipside, when we nourish our gut with a healthy diet and all the essential vitamins, mineral and nutrients our skin needs to glow and we focus on low-HI wholefoods—by which we mean foods that have had as little human intervention as possible—we can experience healthy, glowing skin… every single day!
It’s important to note that what you don’t eat can also have an impact—so avoiding foods that can potentially compromise your gut health such as sugar, gluten, alcohol, caffeine, processed foods and refined carbs—is also essential in the quest for glowing skin as over time, these foods can irritate, inflame or upset your digestive system and even contribute to leaky gut. Also known as intestinal permeability, leaky gut essentially means the ordinarily tight junctions of the gut wall have loosened and as a result, endotoxins and compounds that would otherwise be properly digested, processed or eliminated are able to ‘leak’ back into the bloodstream, triggering an inflammatory response. The result? Inflammation which can cause a whole host of health issues and contribute to inflammatory skin conditions including dry skin, eczema, psoriasis, acne and breakouts, too.
To help you get your glow on, we’ve collated a list of our favourite healthy foods and key beauty nutrients which will help you to glow from the inside out…
Probiotic Fermented Foods
You’ve probably gathered by now that foods that are good for our gut health, are also essential for glowing skin so let’s start with probiotic fermented foods! Perhaps more than anything else, adding probiotic fermented foods to your diet can really improve the state of your gut, as well as your skin. Containing an abundance of good bacteria, fermented foods give your system a healthy dose of gut-loving goodness, bolster gut wall integrity (helping to prevent leaky gut), support immune health and reduce gut inflammation. Fermented foods also improve the bioavailability of nutrients and overall digestion!
Good sources of probiotic fermented foods include lacto-fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, tempeh, yoghurt and cultured dairy products and The Beauty Chef’s range of inner beauty powders and elixirs.
Prebiotics & Fibre-rich Foods
To help nurture and nourish the good bacteria in our gut, we also need a daily dose of prebiotics. Most commonly found in foods which contain insoluble fibre such as inulin—these include onions, garlic, leeks, artichokes, celery, bananas, asparagus and leafy greens. Beyond their prebiotic benefits however, fibre-rich foods also act as an intestinal broom, sweeping out our digestive tract. It’s also essential for our overall health, skin health and immunity as when fibre ferments in the large intestine, it produces anti-inflammatory byproducts known as short-chain fatty acids. These incredible compounds strengthen the intestinal barrier (which is important for radiant skin!) and support both immune and metabolic health.
Other good sources of fibre include legumes, nuts and seeds, psyllium husk, oats (which also contain silica which promotes skin elasticity) and unrefined wholegrains. Just remember to soak your oats, grains, nuts and legumes before consuming as this helps to decrease the phytic acid they contain—a substance which can bind to minerals such as iron, zinc, magnesium and calcium and prevent them from being properly absorbed.
Bone Broth & Gut-healing Foods
Another simple way to balance gut health and promote more glowing skin is to sip on bone broth daily. Not only does bone broth help to heal and seal the delicate gut lining, but it’s also rich in skin-loving nutrients including amino acids, hyaluronic acid, chondroitin sulfate, calcium, magnesium and potassium. In fact, the amino acids found in bone broth—such as proline, glycine and glutamine—actually help to bolster collagen production in the skin! Think of it as your inner skincare.
Essential for collagen synthesis, wound healing and healthy skin, vitamin C is one of the most important skin-loving nutrients and can protect skin cells from free radical damage, UV rays and sunburn or sun damage. Found in fruits and vegetables including lemons, berries, tomatoes, capsicums and bell peppers, oranges, kiwi fruit, papaya and grapefruit, vitamin C can also be found in dark leafy greens, coriander and parsley. Kickstarting your day with a glass of warm water and lemon juice will not only give you a burst of vitamin C, but will also help flush toxins from your body and support liver health. As a bonus, if your liver is working well, your skin is also likely to stay clear and luminous!
Vital for well-hydrated skin and helping to keep inflammation at bay, essential fatty acids are well, essential, for healthy, glowing skin. Some of our favourite sources include olive oil, avocados—which contain an abundance of monounsaturated fats and fibre, as well as vitamin E, C, K and B6—coconut oil, which contains gut-healing lauric acid and medium chain trigylcerides—as well as being antimicrobial, antifungal and antivital—ghee and grass-fed butter which contains fat soluble vitamins A, E and K2 as well as anti-inflammatory short-chain fatty acids, butyrate, which protects intestinal integrity. They are also a good source of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which supports a healthy metabolism and may have anti-cancer properties. Chia seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds, fish oils and oily fish such as sardines and mackerel are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids which are known to support heart health, brain health, inflammtory conditions such as arthritis and skin health. Fermented cod liver oil is especially good because it is high in skin-loving vitamins A and D, plus it is rich in the essential fatty acids DHA and EPA.
Not only are plant foods a good source of dietary fibre, but they also contain a plethora of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants which combat the free radical damage associated with premature skin ageing. Some of our favourites include:
- Beetroots, blueberries and other purple coloured foods which are rich in powerful antioxidants called anthocyanins which help protect against fine lines and wrinkles.
- Papayas, sweet potatoes and other yellow fruits and vegetables contain carotenoids like beta-carotene which convert to vitamin A in the body—crucial to skin repair and improving skin tone. Papayas are also gut-friendly because they contain an enzyme called papain which assists digestion.
- Cabbages and other cruciferous vegetables which are high in fibre and contain a potent detoxifier—an antioxidant called sulforaphane—as well as collagen-boosting vitamin C.
- The humble cucumber assists with skin hydration and helps to combat dryness, is anti-inflammatory, and contains skin-boosting silica as well as vitamins B and C, zinc, folic acid, iron, potassium, calcium, and magnesium.
Vital for the repair of our muscle tissue and bones—protein is also essential for skin repair and promoting the growth of healthy hair and nails. Good sources include eggs, fish, lean meats, legumes, nuts, seeds and quality protein and wellness powders like The Beauty Chef’s BODY Inner Beauty Support.
Fresh Herbs & Spices
Not only do these beauties add flavour to your cooking, but they are secret superfoods which boast a myriad of health benefits,supporting gut health and subsequently, skin radiance. Here are a few we love:
- Cumin, cardamom, caraway eeds, nutmeg and cinnamon are all carminatives—meaning they assist with digestion and prevent gas. Cinnamon also helps to keep blood sugar levels steady.
- Ginger—which boasts anti-inflammatory properties (and relieves nausea!)
- Peppermint which soothes digestion and relaxes the stomach.
- Cayenne pepper which stimulates blood flow, boosts metabolism and helps to curb cravings.
- Turmeric which is a powerful anti-inflammatory.
- Sage for healthy digestion.
- Parsley which is an iron-rich blood cleanser.
- Thyme which is anti-inflammatory.
- Fennel seeds which help to eliminate mucus and gas.
The final reminder is to also consider how you eat as this can affect your gut—and skin—in a myriad of ways. To support healthy digestion, avoid drinking with your meals as this dilutes digestive enzymes and always chew well to kickstart digestion and ensure that all those complexion-loving nutrients you’re consuming actually reach your skin.