Want Glowing Skin? 5 Easy Steps That Start With Your Gut

Written by Anna Mitsios, N.D.

It's easy to overlook our gut as the source of skin troubles. But if the well-being of our internal organs and energy levels are determined by what we put in our mouths, why shouldn't the same be true for our skin?

Here's what an unhealthy gut do to your skin:

  • It disrupts the flora in the skin as it creates inflammation, affecting the integrity and protective function of the skin. This can lead to a drop in the microbial power of the skin to fight infection and inflammation. Research shows that small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), a condition involving inappropriate growth of bacteria in the small intestine, is ten times more prevalent in people with acne rosacea, and that a correction of gut flora led to marked clinical improvement in their skin conditions.
  • Altered gut flora can activate the release of substance P — a neuropeptide produced in the gut, brain and skin that plays a major role in inflammatory skin conditions like eczema.
  • An unhealthy gut can result in maldigestion and the malabsorption of proteins, fats, carbs and vitamins. SIBO can lead to nutritional deficiencies including vitamin B12, as well as vitamins A, D, E and K (fat-soluble vitamins) which are all critical for optimal skin health and overall good health.
  • An imbalance of stomach acid can result in the overgrowth of "bad" bacteria in the colon, which can lead to acne. (This was discovered over a century ago!)
  • 14% of patients with ulcerative colitis and 24% of patients with Crohn’s disease (both diseases that affects the lining of the digestive tract) have skin manifestations.

Correcting your gut flora and establishing a healthy glow — inside and out — doesn't need to be complicated. Here are five easy steps you can take to start the healing process:

1. Stop feeding the bad guys.

The bad flora in your gut has a field day with sugar, dairy and processed grains. Starve the little critters by reducing your intake of these foods — your skin will thank you.

2. Start taking a probiotic.

Oral probiotics have been shown to improve skin conditions by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress, as well as strengthening the intestinal barrier. In one study, 80% of participants who received a probiotic experienced improvement in their acne. Here are 10 probiotic foods to add to your diet.

3. Eat prebiotic- and fiber-rich foods.

Prebiotics provide food for probiotics and can be just as important as probiotics in maintaining healthy skin and gut. Asparagus, beetroot, pumpkin, flaxseeds and garlic are wonderfully rich prebiotic foods. Fiber helps the process by sweeping away toxins and excess hormones which can wreak havoc on the skin.

4. Eat fermented foods.

Fermented foods can be a wonderful way of introducing good gut flora in a natural way. They also assist with improving digestion and stopping persistent sugar cravings.

5. Up your digestive ability.

Promoting the body’s hydrochloric acid production is critical to improving its ability to break down and absorb food. Splash apple cider vinegar onto your salads and increasing your consumption of bitter foods such as rocket, dandelion, lemon and radicchio will increase your digestive power.

Remember that what you put on and in your body are both important! Get your gut in order and your skin will follow.

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