Today we are talking good gut health and who better to share their knowledge with us then Carla from The Beauty Chef.
That’s our motto here at The Beauty Chef. But what does that REALLY mean? And how can that ecosystem in our gut - full of bacteria that digests our food, processes our nutrients, destroys toxins, breaks down fats and carbs- have anything to do with the health of our skin?
It’s a trait of the modern world that we’ve come to look at our body as a collection of different parts - and why wouldn’t we? When we have a problem, we go to a specialist for treatment (the ears, nose and throat doctor, the podiatrist, the dermatologist), but what we’ve forgotten along the way is that our body is a big connected mass of parts that collectively determines our health and when you think of it in that way, it makes it easier to understand how your digestive health is the foundation of your overall health, including your skin. Hippocrates said “All disease begins in the gut” and this couldn’t be truer of skin conditions.
What many people don’t know is that the gut is often referred to as our ‘second brain’. OK, so this second brain (a network of neurons that line the stomach and gut) might not be able to do long division, but it does break down the food that we eat, extracts the vitamins and minerals that we need and then tells our brain via the vagus nerves how we’re feeling; if we’re hungry, nervous, scared or have ‘butterflies’ in our stomachs. How it performs affects not just every part of our body, but our emotional state, too, which is why looking after your gut is crucial not only for healthy skin, but for a healthy body and mind, too.
It’s when the good bacteria, or gut flora, predominate over bad bacteria like pathogens, fungi and yeast. When our gut is in a good state, it supports our immune system, manufactures nutrients (and increases their bio-availability), eliminates toxins (including free radicals), keeps our blood clean, metabolises plant compounds, creates digestion enzymes and helps offset hormonal imbalances. It also creates feel-good neurochemicals such as serotonin and produces nutrients like biotin, vitamin B12 and vitamin K, which are essential for good nervous-system function. When our gut isn’t functioning well and the bad bacteria have taken over, it can lead to IBS, Candida, depression, leaky gut, weight gain, bloating, gas, energy loss, brain fog and problem skin.
The good news is you can turn your gut health around through diet, although it’s always best to see a nutritionist, who may take a comprehensive stool sample to determine the exact levels of your gut flora and detect any pathogens, parasites, microbial imbalances or yeast.
When you eat strains of good bacteria, like lactobacillus and bifidobacterium species, you encourage the growth of beneficial gut flora. You can find these strains in yoghurt and probiotic drinks, but they often don’t contain enough to make a difference. The best thing is to take a supplement that has probiotics present in their billions to ensure you receive the benefit – take them first thing in the morning and last thing at night on an empty stomach so they can work their magic.
Think of prebiotics as a health booster for your gut, which help the good flora that’s already there to grow and flourish. You can buy prebiotic supplements, or alternatively, natural prebiotics exist in asparagus, bananas, endive, chicory, garlic, artichokes, kefir, leeks, onions, sauerkraut, shallots and yoghurt – yum!
Ever wondered why women from Eastern Europe and Asia have radiant, wrinkle-free skin? Their secret weapons are sauerkraut, kefir, miso, kimchi and natto, which are all fermented foods. The proliferation of lactobacilli in fermented vegetables, like, for example, sauerkraut; predigest the cabbage, making it easier to digest and the nutrients more available to the body. But most importantly, it lines the gut with good flora. For the best results, avoid pasteurised fermented foods.
This is not easy– but probably the most important step you can take to getting your gut health on track and your skin in good shape. Sugar feeds any yeast or parasites in your body and plays havoc with your blood-sugar levels, your hormones, your gut and your skin, so cutting it out means no processed sugar, limited fruit, no juice and no alcohol. Once your gut is back to its equilibrium, you can introduce sugar back into your life – but chances are, you might not want to once you see and feel the benefits of a low-sugar diet.
Animal protein can be hard to digest, so slow-cook meat to aid digestion. Always opt for organic foods (they’re richer in nutrients and free from chemicals) and either steam or sauté your veggies, as raw veg can weaken digestion. Soak grains overnight to get rid of anti- nutrients and or opt for easy to digest, low-carb grains like quinoa, buckwheat and amaranth. Drink water with a squeeze of lemon to help your gut with digestion and always chew your food thoroughly, as saliva contains digestive enzymes that help break down food.
There’s a reason why we ferment our powders and boosts and ensure they’re full of natural probiotics and prebiotics. It’s easier than finding a bowl of natto – and a lot tastier, too!
Head to www.thebeautychef.com to check out The Beauty Chef range and start your journey to good gut health.