By Carla Oates
Our philosophy at The Beauty Chef has always been that ‘beauty begins in the belly’®. Translation: that when our digestive system is functioning optimally, our skin reaps the rewards and literally glows from the inside out.
In fact, as our body’s largest organ, our skin is an excellent barometer for what’s going on inside the body—which is why no matter the topical products you choose to use, if you’re neglecting your inner wellbeing, you can’t possibly put your best face forward.
Although the relationship between our gut and skin is complex, understanding this intimate link is essential in the quest for glowing skin. Read on to discover why…
First, what is the gut-skin axis?
As referenced above, our gut and skin share a close relationship—known more formally as the gut-skin axis. And in the same way our gut and brain share a constant dialogue via the vagus nerve, our gut and skin also communicate with one another via the microbiome. Given this close (and bidirectional) relationship, it makes it all the more essential to understand how to nurture this relationship and, importantly, learn to read the signs and symptoms on our skin.
How does gut health affect skin health?
To better comprehend exactly how our gut can impact and influence our skin, it’s helpful to think of the gut as a garden. When the soil in the garden is well-balanced, healthy and rich in a diversity of vitamins, minerals and nutrients, the plants (aka our skin!) that grow within its soil will thrive and blossom.
Research also continues to show that where there is gut inflammation, there is likely to be skin inflammation—which is why when our gut is out of balance (or in dysbiosis), our skin is often one of the first places symptoms manifest. For example, it’s estimated that up to 34 percent of people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) also experience skin manifestations, while leaky gut is often also prevalent in those with acne or eczema, and SIBO is ten times more common in those with acne and 13 times as likely in those with rosacea!
As one of our body’s key elimination organs, our skin can also bear the burden when our gut isn’t doing its job effectively. If our gut becomes inflamed or ‘leaky’, for example, this causes extra load to be carried by the liver and subsequently our skin can be called in to effectively ‘pick up the slack’—meaning increased congestion as our skin struggles to keep up with its elimination duties.
What also becomes tricky, however, is that often symptoms of gut conditions are similar to skin conditions—and the two are regularly linked or influenced by one another. For some people, eating a food that irritates their gut (such as gluten or lactose) can trigger skin symptoms like eczema or hives—but when the connection isn’t so obvious, it can take a little extra digging to determine the root cause of your skin condition and exactly how the gut is playing a part.
How to support skin health from within
As you can see, to heal the skin, it’s first essential to heal the gut—ensuring that its ‘soil’ is rich in nutrients and balanced. While it’s of course important to work with a trusted gut health expert if you suspect gut health issues are the root cause of your skin woes—there are also a number of lifestyle factors that can positively impact and influence our gut health (and subsequently our skin) such as reducing stress, exercising regularly, practising mindfulness and meditation, sleeping well and limiting our exposure to chemicals and toxins in our environment. Still, food has the most profound impact and truly is ‘medicine’ when it comes to nurturing and nourishing the gut, so if your topical skincare products simply aren’t cutting the mustard, here’s how to achieve more glowing skin from within…
Prebiotics & Fibre-Rich Foods
When it comes to gut health, priority number one is feeding and nurturing the good bacteria that is already present in our gut—and encouraging them to multiply and proliferate. And, one of the best ways to do this is by noshing on foods that are rich in fibre—soluble and insoluble. Both types of fibre act as a sort of ‘broom’, sweeping through the intestines and keeping the digestive tract clear and healthy. But insoluble fibre—found in onions, garlic, leeks, celery, bananas and leafy greens—are packed with prebiotic benefits and also help to promote more regular bowel movements. Soluble fibre, on the other hand, remains relatively unchanged as it passes through the small intestine, but when it reaches the colon, this is where it works its magic—beginning to ferment and producting anti-inflammatory short-chain fatty acids which have been proven to improve intestinal barrier function and support immune, metabolic and skin health.
Gut-Healing Foods & Probiotics
Put simply, any food that soothes and heals the gut is going to be great for glowing skin! Think gelatin-rich bone broth, chicken soup, collagen gummies and probiotic-rich fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, miso and kefir. While fermentation has been around for thousands of years, the probiotic benefits of these foods are only now being more widely recognised—helping to improve the bioavailability of nutrients in foods as well as giving the gut a healthy dose of probiotic bacteria. The postbiotics produced during the fermentation process, however, may be even more impressive, helping to combat inflammation and strengthen the gut wall, as well as supporting and modulating the immune system.
Adding a probiotic supernutrient formula like GLOW Inner Beauty Essential™ to your daily routine is also a simple way to ensure you’re receiving a healthful dose of prebiotics, probiotics and postbiotics daily! Not only does GLOW contain an abundance of bio-fermented wholefoods (which have all been selected for the gut and glowing skin benefits!), but our unique fermentation process, Flora Culture™, supercharges our wholefood ingredients, increases their potency and improves their bioavailability for even better results. We’ve also added our exclusive probiotic strain, GUT5Y™, to the final formula which is proven to support skin and digestive wellbeing.
Plant foods are not only an excellent source of dietary fibre, but their antioxidant properties are fabulous for combating the effects of free radical damage—which is linked to premature ageing of the skin and body. As with our microbes, diversity is key so fill your plate with a wide array of fruits and vegetables each day—and the more the colourful the better. This is because more colourful varieties contain greater concentrations of plant compounds like polyphenols and anthocyanins—as well as skin-loving minerals and vitamins like vitamin C (which is essential for collagen production = aka plump, glowing skin!). Good examples are beetroots, blueberries, red cabbage, sweet potatoes, papaya, dark leafy greens and cruciferous varieties.
Another key food group to consider in the quest for glowing skin are healthy fats. Not only are essential fatty acids anti-inflammatory—and therefore useful in combating inflammation skin conditions like eczema, rosacea and psoriasis—but they also assist with hydration, helping to combat dryness. Olive oil, avocados, coconut oil, oily fish like sardines, salmon and mackerel—as well as The Beauty Chef’s OMEGA ELIXIR™ Inner Beauty Boost are all delicious ways to up your intake of these essential fats.