By Ashley Cameron
Do you have dry, dull or congested skin? Perhaps you’re battling with fine lines, sun damaged or stressed skin?
For many of us suffering from skin issues, we turn our attention to the multi-billion dollar global beauty and cosmetics industry for answers. In fact, according to research, skincare accounts for the largest portion of the market and this means that as consumers, we spend a large fortune on topical solutions for skin issues that may be better addressed by turning inwards.
At The Beauty Chef, our philosophy is that ‘beauty begins in the belly’ – meaning that for healthy, glowing skin, we must first nourish ourselves on the inside, before turning our attention to topical solutions.
So, what’s the best way to reset your gut and enjoy radiant skin?
Inflammation is an immune response and is our body’s primary way of protecting itself, so in terms of our gut, it makes sense then that if we eat foods that irritate or inflame the gut – that over time, this can cause systemic inflammation and contribute to a number of health and skin issues.
SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) and leaky gut – where the delicate intestinal lining becomes more permeable than normal, allowing endotoxins to escape into the bloodstream – are just a couple of examples of how inflammation in the gut can contribute to skin issues. Research shows, in fact, that people with acne are also more likely to show signs of SIBO and if your leaky gut is induced by stress, it can also be the cause of your acne.
While there are a myriad of foods that can be helpful in terms of combating gut inflammation (outlined below), there are also a number of food groups which are important to steer clear of if you’re looking to heal your gut for glowing skin. Gluten, dairy, corn and soy are all common allergens which, in some people, can disrupt microbial balance, increase inflammation and exacerbate symptoms of leaky gut.
LOOK AT YOUR PLATE
While avoiding irritating or inflammatory foods is important, including a diversity of anti-inflammatory and gut-friendly foods can also be helpful. Opt for antioxidant-rich colourful fruits and vegetables which help to reduce inflammation and mop up free radicals – compounds which cause damage to cells and can contribute to the breakdown of collagen and elastin in the skin (hello, premature ageing!). Colourful fruits and vegetables are also rich in polyphenols. These plant compounds can help to nourish and reset the microbiome – improving metabolism. Some studies also suggest that polyphenols may help to encourage the proliferation of good bacteria – such as Lactobacillus – in the gut.
Easy to digest gut-friendly foods such as soups, stews and broths are also a great way to help soothe your digestive system and promote glowing skin from within. As these foods are already partially broken down, nutrients are more easily assimilated into the body while foods like bone broth, for example, also contain amino acids like glycine and L-glutamine – which strengthen the mucosal lining of the gut – and proline – which supports collagen production. Equally important however, is to ensure that we are consuming an abundance of fibre-rich fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds. Dietary fibre helps to promote microbial diversity and consuming fibre-rich foods also helps to produce short-chain fatty acids – compounds which are anti-inflammatory and help to improve the integrity of the gut lining.
Adding fermented foods to your diet is another great way to support skin health as they are a good source of digestive enzymes – which help to aid digestion, improving the bioavailability of nutrients – and naturally rich in probiotic bacteria which promotes microbial diversity, for a healthy, robust microbiome and radiant skin from within. Good sources include kimchi, kefir, sauerkraut and The Beauty Chef inner beauty products.
ASSESS YOUR LIFESTYLE
However, it’s not only important to consider the food we eat when trying to reduce inflammation and promote glowing skin. Modern living can also contribute to gut and skin inflammation as every day we have to deal with environmental toxins and stress – both of which disrupt the balance of bacteria in the gut and damage its delicate lining. While it is difficult to completely avoid environmental chemicals and toxins, we can choose organic and natural beauty and cleaning products to limit our exposure and embrace self-care practices such as yoga and meditation to help reduce stress.