The importance of gut health has become a popular topic lately with some healthcare practitioners linking it with anxiety, acne, eczema and surprisingly autism. It has been known for a long time that what we put in our mouths can cause skin problems. Chocolate has long been the prime suspect but increasingly doctors and scientist are finding more suspects.
Gut health refers to the balance of bacteria living in our digestive system (called the gut microbiome). There are many different bacteria that reside in the intestine and each plays a different role in breaking down the food we ingest and converting it into the nutrients our bodies need. An imbalance in bacteria can quickly show up on our skin as pimples, acne or increased oil production as the body tries to rid itself of impurities.
So how do we strengthen and maintain a healthy gut to avoid skin problems like acne?
There is mounting evidence that while eating a healthy diet is important so too is variety. Scientists are finding that eating the same food all the time can reduce the variety of bacteria we have in our gut even if that food is what we would consider being healthy. The reason for this is each variety of bacteria specializes in breaking down certain foods. If we don’t eat the particular type of food a bacteria thrives on they will reduce in numbers and not be available when needed.
Probiotics such as fermented dairy drinks and supplements can be helpful but it is important to note that they alone are not enough as they only contain a few types of bacteria. Fermented vegetables like sauerkraut and kimchi are good and an alternative for vegans. Other fermented foods that have become popular include kefir, kombucha, and tempeh.
Reducing our intake of sugars, processed foods and high GI refined carbohydrates help by not feeding the bad bacteria. Instead opt for a healthy diet comprised of low GI fresh whole foods to keep you in good health and your skin at its best-avoiding skin problems like eczema, pimples, and acne.
A diet high in fiber and water assists the digestive system to excrete waste and aids liver function. By including lots of vegetables, fruit and whole grains in our daily diet along with water rather than sugary drinks and alcohol we can encourage a balanced microbiome and our digestive system is better able to rid the body of toxins and impurities.