We’ve all felt it – the churning stomach when we’re worried, the butterflies before a date, the ‘gut instinct’ we follow when we’re not quite sure what to do. These aren’t just sayings; recent research has confirmed these feelings are a direct result of a profound dynamic interaction between the brain and the gut.
Now we all know how important the brain is, but let’s talk about our guts for a second – because they are some seriously hard-working machines. Firstly, they contain 70% of your immune system. They metabolise hormones, create enzymes and neutralise pathogens. But perhaps most importantly, the gut is responsible for breaking down food, extracting all the vitamins and minerals we need to stay healthy.
So it’s fair to say the gut is great. And that’s why looking after it is so important – not least in terms of your skin.
Gut health effects your skin in a number of ways, with the most predictible cause being that old chestnut, stress. Think of how you feel when you’re stressed out – the tightness in the tummy, the gurgling, even loss of appetite. That’s because when we’re stressed our body produces stress hormones that are released into the blood stream, instructing blood to be redirected to our vital hormones to deal with ‘fight or flight’ issue at hand. Even if that issue is just a looming deadline or an over-scheduled week. The result is that the gut and therefore our skin doesn’t get the nutrient and oxygen rich blood it needs to work healthily.
The other demon is processed foods – combined with stress they can slow digestion, changing the health of the ‘good’ bacteria in the gut. This can lead to leaks in the lining of the intestine wall, allowing toxins into the bloodstream which in turn can cause inflammation throughout the body. This inflammation in turn can impair the integrity of the acid mantel on the skin’s surface. Never heard of the acid mantel? Well, it’s another vital little part of our biology – a protective layer on the surface of your skin that is produced by the oil glands, it helps to protect your skin from harmful bacteria, viruses and other potential contaniments. If the integrity of the acid mantel is compromised it can result in acne, psoriasis, eczema and other skin inflammations.
And it all comes back to the health of the gut.
The good news is, there’s plenty you can do to improve yours.
Here are just a few simple tips:
- Take a good probiotic to help the good flora that is in your gut to flourish. We recommend the Advanced Nutrition Programme Probiotics.
- Eat fermented foods such as sauerkraut and kefir, these help line your gut with good flora – and they’re pretty delicious.
- Drinking lemon in warm water helps to not only kick start the liver first thing in the morning but it will aid the digestion process also. Make a habit of it.
- Meat bone broths have become very popular recently as they are nutrient dense so are excellent at helping to heal the gut lining and should be taken daily to promote continued health.
- Avoid refined sugars as sugar feeds yeast and parasites in your body as well as accelerating the aging process (see my blog post on Sugar and Aging). This means limiting fruit to two portions a day and no alcohol!
- It goes without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway, avoid processed food.
- Try to eat foods that are alkaline like green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, mustard greens and broccoli. They don’t have to be boring – there are lots of recipes online for the tastiest ways to enjoy these super veg.
- Choose sourdough bread for optimum nutrition absorbtion from bread.
Nothing too difficult; small changes that will make a big change in your gut – and a big difference to your skin. Not to mention your body and mind.
Remember, a healthy gut will metabolise nutrients from your food, support your immune system, reduce inflammation, eliminate toxins, create digestive enzymes and keep your blood clean. So it really is worth looking after!
If you’d like to talk to me or one of our therapists about gut health, or any other concerns you may have about your skin, you can arrange a free consultation by emailing [email protected] or calling 003531 6766411. Our expert assessment and treatment options will help direct you to the best skin of your life!