Although, I might be an expert in formulating skincare, I'm not in medicine. But these ladies sure are, Dr Michele Duffy and Kate Duffy, The Functional Medicine mother-daughter duo of She Health pulled together their best guidance on how to eat your way to glowing skin from a holistic perspective. And I couldn't agree more!
In the pursuit of healthy, radiant skin, a conventional approach is to treat skin issues as a “skin problem”. We often reach for an array of skincare products and treatments that focus on the outside skin organ. It's essential to remember that true skin health starts from within. The connection between your gut and your skin is more significant than you might realize.
Skin has its very own microbiome. Microbiome may be a word that you have heard before, but in relation to the gut! The gut microbiome is made up of trillions of bacteria, viruses and fungi that determine our skin’s microbiome. Our gut health is essential for the digestion and breakdown of our food, but also determines what is going on at the level of our skin.
3 Common Causes of Unbalanced Gut/Skin Health
The gut affects the skin through the immune system. Pathogens, weak gut lining, lowered digestive capacity or bacterial overgrowth causing an immune response which triggers inflammation in the body. Systemic
inflammation leads to less than desirable skin. The great news is the gut is self
healing. Simply removing the triggers of inflammation can give the gut what it needs to heal. This immune response is often caused by stress and food and
Typical inflammation triggers include:
● Omega 6 foods
● Refined sugar
● Refined carbs
● Synthetic ingredients
● Food coloring and dyes
● Glyphosate - foods sprayed with pesticides and chemicals
● BPAs - Plastic
● Lack of sleep
● NSAID use
● Chronic antibiotic use
● Food sensitivities - this is highly individualized and a proper elimination diet is the gold standard for determining and reintroducing foods that may be causing an
Low Fiber Diet
Diet or gut microbiome low in fiber or short chain fatty acids (SCFAs). Short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) play a pivotal role in promoting gut health. These
organic acids are produced during the fermentation of dietary fibers and complex
carbohydrates by beneficial gut bacteria and promote the materials needed to
properly breakdown and digest food and strengthen the gut lining:
Best Food Foods for Improved Gut Health
Dietary fiber from beans, apples, chickpeas, berries, pears, oats, barley, carrots, lentils, broccoli
Resistant starches such as cooked and cooled potatoes or rice, green bananas, raw oats
Prebiotic foods like garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus
Too much Fight or Flight Response
Lowered digestive capacity is one of the main reasons we see skin issues.
Digestion is a top down process and starts with our brain. We need to be able to
access your parasympathetic system or “rest and digest” in order to properly
break down our food and absorb the nutrients necessary for skin health. We also
need to be properly chewing our food and producing the appropriate amount of
stomach acid ( HCL) to promote a healthy gut. Without proper HCL production
a) We are more susceptible to food pathogens and bacterial overgrowth that
b) You can not absorb the mineral necessary for skin health like zinc,
selenium, biotin, vit A, C, B, D, E, omega 3s
c) You can not properly break down protein into amino acids. This actually
promotes food sensitivities. Food proteins that escape the gut barrier
promote the immune response to food.
d) You will have impaired bile production which is essential for the
detoxification system ( which is also important to skin health), and we will
not break down fat appropriately which is needed for proper hormone
balance and the absorption of vit A, D, E. Vit A is particularly important for
collagen production and cellular turnover and skin longevity and aging as
well as preventing dry skin.
Gut-Skin Connection: Let's explore how you can eat to
promote skin health from the inside out:
● Probiotics and Prebiotics: Incorporate probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut into your diet to support a healthy gut microbiome. Prebiotic foods, such as garlic, onions, and asparagus, can also nourish beneficial gut bacteria.
● Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3s found in fatty fish (salmon, mackerel), and walnuts can help reduce inflammation and keep your skin hydrated.
● Antioxidant-Rich Foods: Consume plenty of fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants like vitamin C (citrus fruits, bell peppers) and vitamin E (nuts, seeds, spinach). These combat oxidative stress, which can lead to premature aging.
● Hydration: Stay well-hydrated by drinking enough water throughout the day. Hydration is vital for maintaining skin elasticity and suppleness.
● Nutrient dense animal protein like liver or cod liver oil that are rich in vitamin A, D, zinc, selenium and B vitamins
● Limit Processed Foods and Alcohol: Excessive highly processed foods can disrupt gut balance and lead to inflammation. Opt for whole, unprocessed foods instead. Alcohol promotes estrogen dominance and punches holes in the gut lining that leads to that inflammatory response in the body.
● Collagen-Boosting Foods: Incorporate collagen-promoting foods like bone broth, chicken, and fish into your diet to support skin elasticity.
● Promote proper digestion by chewing your food, eating without distractions and not eating on the go!
Healthy skin is not only a reflection of your skincare routine but also of what you put on your plate. So, embrace a diet that supports both your gut and your skin, and you'll be well on your way to a radiant, healthy complexion.
So Where Do You Go from Here?
Gut health and nutrition can be an overwhelming topic, and it can be hard to know where to start. It is also important to note that you can’t eat your way out of pathogens or infections if they are the root cause of your inflammatory response. If you are ready to take control of your gut health and discover personalized solutions for your gut issue, schedule a consultation with our experienced functional medicine team so we can discuss your unique needs.
And be sure to use antioxidant rich clean skincare like these holy grails.