It’s not a very sexy topic, but it’s extremely important to talk about it. The health of our skin depends largely on the condition of our gut.
Approximately 500 species of bacteria, weighing about 3.3 pounds is working continuously in our gut. Microbes in our body actually outnumber (!) human cells ten to one. (It’s crazy even just to think about it, right?) There are good and bad bacteria among them, and they must be in perfect balance to make our body work optimally. If our gut flora is in balance, then our digestion is doing great, a good amount of vitamin K and B is being produced in our intestines, our mucous membrane is protected, our immune system is strong and our skin is clear, healthy and glowing.
However, if there are more bad bacteria than good, then you might have digestive problems, get ill easier, and even though you eat a lot of vitamin-rich foods, nutrients can not absorb well – ergo they don’t even get to your skin. Different skin problems can also occur from acne, rosacea to eczema and psoriasis. In a lighter degree, you might only experience dull skin or early wrinkling.
„If you want to heal your skin, you have to heal your gut.”
HAPPY GUT = HAPPY, POSITIVE YOU
Our digestive system does not only affect our skin or our immune system, but research also proves it can affect our emotions and mood. (For example, people with irritable bowel syndrome are more likely to experience depression and anxiety.) Our gut is not only full of bacteria but nerves as well. Since it is at least as complicated as our brain, the neural networks of the intestine is called „gut brain” or „second brain”. Our gut is constantly communicating with our brain – these signals are transmitted to different brain areas. “Roughly, I summarize what these areas are responsible for: self-awareness, „digesting” emotions, morality, anxiety, memory and motivation” – writes Giulia Enders in her book Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ. Our belly can therefore, for example, presumably influence our moral-related thoughts or how positive we are in general. I think this is a pretty interesting and exciting topic, but since researchers are also just beginning to study this area, so I’m not digging any deeper.
Let’s get back to the skin. 😊 There are a few things you can do to help your little bacteria friends stay in balance so that you are not only feeling amazing, but your skin is healthy and beautiful too. Here are my top 10 tips!
EAT WHOLE, UNPROCESSED FOOD
Avoid pre-packaged foods with preservatives, coloring agents or chemicals. For example fast food, cold cuts, ready-to-use sauces, packaged pastries, frozen french fries, pizza, etc. Instead try to eat fresh, unpackaged food. They will help grow good bacteria.
DO NOT STRESS
Or at least try to compensate it with something (yoga, meditation) if you have a lot of stress in your life. This is VERY IMPORTANT. Why? Because in case of stress, our gut goes into standby mode, produces less mucus and reduces its own blood supply. As a result, the balance of the gut flora goes out of whack. There is a so-called Substance P neuropeptide, which in this case starts flowing produced by the intestine. This affects the production of lipids and sebum production, as well as the fatty acid composition of the sebum. So as a result your skin gets oiler, your pores get clogged and obviously you will face some extra breakouts (ouch!).
MAKE FRIENDS WITH FERMENTED FOOD
Sauerkraut, kefir, miso, kimchi, tempeh, kombucha – eat/drink any of them regurarly. These fermented, probiotic-rich yummy foods encourage the growth of good bacteria. However, vinegar and pasteurization/heat-treatment process kills the live and active cultures, so if you buy sauerkraut try to opt for the fresh, non-pasteurized version. Of course, the best is if you can make your own fermented vegetables.
You can also take pro- and prebiotics in a supplement form, but make sure that it is good quality and has a minimum of 2 billion bacteria from mixed populations.
Get crazy for prebiotics
Probiotics just by themselves are useless. In order for the friendly bacteria (they produce) to grow, a proper “environment” is needed. And prebiotics are the little fellas that help to create this. So what are the best prebiotic-rich foods? Bananas, oatmeal, Jerusalem artichokes, chicory, endive, leeks, garlic, onions, beans, peas, asparagus and wheat. It is important that you also eat them regularly if you want to have beautiful skin.
CUT DOWN ON SUGAR AND ALCOHOL
Yes, I know I have already mentioned this in my post „The secret of clean, beautiful skin 1.”, but I have to say it again, because sugar is extremely damaging to the gut flora. Just as much as alcohol (which is actually very high in sugar as well). Use natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup. (Artificial ones have been associated with gut imbalance as well.)
STEAM YOUR VEGGIES, SOAK YOUR SEEDS AND GRAINS
Many people find it difficult to digest raw vegetables especially in the evening, so it is better to steam or slightly fry them in a small amount of olive or coconut oil. And you’d better eat your salads and raw vegetables for lunch. Nuts and seeds (like almonds, walnuts, cashews, etc.) and grains (quinoa, millet, buckwheat, oats, etc.) are also harder to digest for some, so they should be soaked for about 2-3 hours before eating or cooking. Soaking can increase their nutrient content as well.
CHEW YOUR FOOD SLOWLY + DO NOT EAT IF YOU ARE NERVOUS
Digestion begins in the mouth – it is not the first time you hear this, do you? Our saliva also contains digestive enzymes and if you eat quickly, they can not get into action – so your gut has much more work to do. Warning: chew your food at least 40 times. Too much? You see, you eat that fast. If you are stressed or nervous, don’t eat! Your body is in “survival mode” under stress, so your digestion will slow down.
SOOTHE YOUR GUT WITH SPICES AND HERBS
After lunch or dinner a nice and warm fennel, chamomile, peppermint, ginger or lemon balm tea can do wonders. I drink a lot of herbal teas and I love them. If you’re not used to it, start with chamomile. You can add a little bit of honey to it as well, if you feel like it. The other thing: instead of a lot of salt, use healing, gut soothing spices in your foods like oregano, ginger, cumin, cinnamon, marjoram (promotes bile production), thyme, basil. They all have amazing health benefits.
LESS IS MORE
I think it is important to be reminded from time to time, especially during a real ‘healthy living revolution’. I also tend to fall into the mistake of wanting too much. Let me just say this: we put way too many things in out smoothies, like hundreds of vegetables, fruits, protein&beauty powders, spirulina, adaptogenic herbs and then we are surprised that we suddenly have another two pimples instead of smooth, clear skin. The same thing: too many supplements. Slow down! Are you sure your body needs all of this? Do you think cave women and men would know what these are? Not really, right? So why do you think that today’s people can not function optimally without these „miracles”? I’m not telling you not to try them if you really want to (or that you should not take supplements at all), but do it with MODERATION. The same thing goes for too many beauty products and cosmetics… Most of the time, less is more (especially if you have skin problems), do not forget that!
LISTEN TO YOUR BODY’S MESSAGE
Your body is constantly talking to you, but mostly it is just whispering. You need to learn to hear, feel, and see the signs it sends to you. We are not the same, there is no recipe for all, but the thing is: YOU know exactly what’s good for you. If you do not feel well, you are often tired, exhausted (and not just because you work a lot), you have strong PMS symptoms, you can not get rid of your pimples, you have bad headaches, you are bloated, then know that these symptoms are trying to tell you that there is something wrong going on inside. Many people are so used to these everyday symptoms that they just simply don’t recognize them as a problem. But I tell you now, they are NOT NORMAL. You should not feel that way! But then why do you? Because YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT. Your cells are made up of the foods you eat, and YOU are made up of those cells. It is that simple. Think about it for a moment.
+1 OTHER GUT FLORA KILLERS
– Antibiotics, pain killers, anti-baby pills, antacids, anti-inflammatory drugs, etc.
– Too much refined flour and bad fat + not enough fiber
– Soft drinks, energy drinks, lots of black coffee
– Too much meat
– Not drinking enough water (do not drink while eating though!)
– Sorrow, depression, anxiety
– Food allergies, food sensitivities (not being recognized)
– Environmental factors: chemicals, detergents, lead, mercury, some cosmetics (!) and so on.
I hope this helps some of you to live a more fulfilling, healthier and happier life. Health (and healthy digestion!) is our most important treasure. And this is not some kind of stupid cliché. EVERYTHING STARTS FROM HERE. Beauty as well.
Have a wonderful day, dear!
Photo: Pinterest & Sarah Dorweiler
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