10 Ways to Improve Your Gut Health for Glowing Skin
Do you want clear skin that glows naturally? (who doesn’t?)
Before you think about spending a fortune on miracle creams and expensive makeup, why not invest your time and money into improving your digestive health first?
It may not sound that glamorous, but your gut is where the seeds for health and beauty are planted.
THE GUT-SKIN CONNECTION
To give a simple analogy, Carla Oates a.k.a. The Beauty Chef, encourages us to think about our gut like the soil in a garden.
It needs the right nutrient levels and bacterial balance to support the plants to be strong, their leaves robust and their flowers to blossom.
What’s more, the gut is where we make neurotransmitters so the health of our gut can affect the way we feel too. This is why doctors refer to it as our second brain. So balancing our gut will help give us a mood lift, as well as beautiful glowing skin.
To get your gut in good health, first you need to support good bacteria in your digestive system. And it’s all about balance.
Too much bad bacteria can contribute to acne, rosacea, premature aging of the skin, dull skin and low energy levels. Studies also show that where there is gut inflammation, there will be skin inflammation, and that people who have a healthier gut microbiota may have skin that’s more moisturised, hydrated and protected.
SO HOW DO WE BUILD UP OUR GOOD BACTERIA?
Unfortunately, good bacteria doesn’t thrive in the conditions of modern living. Stress, processed foods, takeaways, too much sugar, alcohol and pollution all feed bad bacteria, which can cause long-term health problems and dull, problem skin.
However, we can help alter this pattern with these 10 simple changes to lifestyle and diet.
Eat whole foods: it’s simple. Try to eat food with as little human intervention as possible. This means foods provided by nature, not processed in a factory. If you eat bread, try switching from commercially-produced bread to a locally made sourdough. Choose foods with simple, natural ingredients. And if possible, try to make more meals from scratch and avoid adding too many sugary sauces.
Slow down and de-stress: bad bacteria loves stress. Simple activities such as 10 minutes of basic yoga or stretching, an afternoon walk, a warm bath, a swim, reading a good book, breathing in fresh air or simply being kind to yourself all help encourage beneficial flora. Equally, try not to eat when you are angry or stressed as your body’s fight or flight response will hinder digestion. Eat smaller meals, chew your food slowly and try to avoid drinking with your meal as it dilutes digestive enzymes.
Eat probiotics and prebiotics: the combination helps promote a healthy gut more than either consumed alone. Most supermarkets stock probiotic and prebiotic drinks and yoghurts but be careful that those products are not also full of gut-depleting sugar. Supplements can also be helpful. Like Carla, we are also big fans of consuming lacto-fermented foods to get natural viable bacteria into the belly.
Eat lacto-fermented foods: sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi and miso are great (and delicious) examples of lacto-fermented foods, all of which are a gut-friendly powerhouse of beneficial bacteria. Studies also show that eating lacto-fermented foods can influence both mood and acne by reducing systemic inflammation.
Choose Certified Organic foods: they’re packed with gut-friendly nutrients and free of additives and chemicals that negatively affect your gut health.
Too much acidity in the body encourages unfriendly bacteria. Reduce the acidity in the body by eating more alkalising foods including plenty of green leafy veggies.
Love your lemons: kick-start your digestion by starting the day with lemon juice in water, or grab a shot before a meal to kick-start good digestion. PRO TIP: Blend 2-3 fresh lemons with water and freeze the liquid into ice-cube trays. Drop a cube into hot or cold water for a quick, easy (and gut-friendly) boost to your daily routine.
Slow cook and add spice to meat: if you’re a meat eater, try using a slow-cooker as often as possible. The slow process makes the meat much easier to digest, especially if you add spices such as garlic, ginger, cumin, cayenne and black pepper. Also try incorporating meat bone broths into your diet: they’re excellent for healing the lining of the gut.
Cut down on sugar. Most of us know too much sugar is bad for your health. But did you know bad bacteria thrives on processed sugar? Try to cut out (or down) on processed biscuits and cakes, and be aware of the sugar often hidden in bread, cereals and sauces.
Coconut oil is helpful for gut health as it contains lauric acid, which is anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. Cook with it, or add it to salads for a lovely nutty flavour.
NOTE: PLEASE CHECK WITH YOUR HEALTH PRACTITIONER BEFORE MAKING ANY CHANGES TO YOUR DIET, ESPECIALLY IF YOU ARE PREGNANT OR HAVE A HEALTH CONDITION.