By Carla Oates
Since launching The Beauty Chef back in 2009, I’ve been passionate about educating our community on the importance of gut health for glowing skin—and understanding that our complexion truly is a reflection of what’s going on inside our bodies.
While there are many ways to support our gut health—which we explore regularly on our blog, as well as in The Beauty Chef Gut Guide—I’ve always maintained that the most profound influence we can have on our gut (and subsequently, our skin!) is via the food we choose to place on our plate.
Put simply, the seeds for glowing skin are planted deep within our digestive system with our gut and skin in constant communication with one another via the gut-skin axis. This bidirectional pathway means that our gut and skin are able to ‘chat’ with one another, via our microbiome, and consequently, as our body’s largest organ, our skin is able to tell us when something is a little off-kilter within our gut. What’s incredible, is that we often notice these skin manifestations—such as rashes, inflammation, sensitivity and congestion—long before we are aware that we are experiencing dysbiosis (or an imbalance) in our gut.
So, it makes sense then that to ensure our skin remains healthy and glowing—we must first turn our attention to our gut, nurturing and nourishing it at every opportunity with all the essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients it needs to thrive and ensure our skin glows from the inside out.
While I’m a self-confessed foodie and love to experiment in the kitchen, here are a few of my favourite foods for glowing skin…
Fermentation is what initially inspired The Beauty Chef after experiencing first-hand the powers of fermented foods! They are particularly good for gut health and they not only provide a healthy dose of probiotic bacteria, but unlike over-the-counter probiotics, fermented foods contain a broad-spectrum of species and strains—which means greater benefits for you. Adding fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir or miso to your meals also helps to boost the bioavailability of nutrients, and, as fermentation already begins the process of digestion, your body is more easily able to absorb, assimilate and utilise the vitamins, minerals and nutrients in your food. Fermented foods are also known to modulate the immune system and reduce gut inflammation—which further supports the quest for glowing skin! To reap the benefits of fermentation for yourself, our inner beauty powders and elixirs have been created using our unique Flora Culture™ fermentation process—which supercharges our wholefood ingredients and creates a natural broad-spectrum probiotic—and contain our exclusive strain of probiotic, GUT5Y™ which is proven to support skin and digestive wellbeing.
I speak a lot about fibre, but this is because I truly believe it’s one of the best ways to improve gut health and positively influence our microbial health. Found in fruits and vegetables, legumes, lentils, beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains—fibre boosts digestion and works as a prebiotic in the gut, feeding our good bacteria and encouraging them to diversify and proliferate. Subsequently, when fibre makes its way down to our large intestine, it begins to ferment and the byproducts of this process are short-chain fatty acids—anti-inflammatory compounds which influence our health in a myriad of magical ways! They strengthen our intestinal barrier, support our immune health (and 70% of our immune system lies in the gut!), boost our brain health and support our overall metabolic health, too. Good sources include foods like onion, leeks, garlic and artichokes.
Glowing skin begins in the gut so healing our digestive system is of the utmost importance if we wish to reap the rewards of a healthy complexion! Sip on bone broth daily to help heal and seal the gut lining and enjoy the extra benefits of the amino acids which help to boost collagen in the skin. Homemade chicken soup, spices like ginger, peppermint, turmeric and cinnamon are also a good way to promote gut healing—as is incorporating GUT PRIMER™ Inner Beauty Support into your daily inner beauty routine.
To combat inflamed skin, essential healthy fats are key! Particularly, omegas and omega-3s which are a group of fatty acids that our body is unable to produce on its own so we need to ensure we include them in our diet. There are also three different types of omega 3s including alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) found in flaxseeds, chia seeds and walnuts, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) found in fatty fish like salmon, mackerel and sardines, and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) also found in oily fish as well as meat, eggs and dairy. Aside from their incredible anti-inflammatory benefits, omegas also promote skin hydration and healing—and our OMEGA ELIXIR™ Inner Beauty Boost is a simple way to get a good dose of these healthy fats. Containing a balanced ratio of omega 3, 6, 7 and 9 oils from cumin seed, chia seed and linseed oil, OMEGA ELIXIR™ creates a ‘matrix effect’ which helps to maintain structural integrity of the skin. It also helps to radically reduce skin inflammation and promote a smoother complexion as it contains evening primrose oil (rich in gamma linoleic acid) which soothes dryness and relieves skin of irritation.
Antioxidant & polyphenol-rich plants
Eat. The. Rainbow. This is advice we’ve heard for years—but there is so much truth in this sentiment because the more colourful the fruit or vegetable, the more nutrients and skin-loving antioxidants and polyphenols it contains. Polyphenols are plant compounds that boast incredible benefits—helping to maintain and boost gut health, but they also help to encourage the proliferation of good bacteria in the gut and promote microbial diversity (which, we know is incredibly important for our overall health, beauty and wellbeing!). Antioxidants found in colourful fruits and vegetables also work hard to combat free radical damage—which is a leading contributor for ageing of the skin and body. Some of the best sources of these foods include purple varieties like beetroot, red cabbage and blueberries which are rich in anthocyanins, yellow and orange papaya, sweet potatoes and carrots which contain carotenoids like beta-carotene, cruciferous veggies which are prebiotic and full of fibre and vitamin C-rich varieties like lemons, berries, capsicums, kiwifruit, leafy greens and parsley. Perhaps more than any other vitamin, vitamin C is critical for skin health and it supports collagen synthesis (the protein that keeps our skin plump, hydrated and smooth) and protects against free radical damage caused by environmental stressors like UV rays.
While including these beneficial foods in your daily diet will help to nourish your skin from the inside out—it’s also important to avoid inflammatory foods and gut irritants which can negate your efforts. Common culprits include gluten, refined sugar, alcohol, excess caffeine, refined and processed foods—which can all irritate and inflame our digestive system, as well as our skin.