Healthy Skin Starts in Your Belly: How to Get Your Gut Back on Track

Natasha Burton
Close-up of woman's facce

Image Source / Getty Images

We’ve all heard about inner beauty. There are just some people that radiate a certain goodness that makes them stunning from the inside out. However, inner beauty doesn’t just come from having a good heart—it also depends on having a healthy gut. In fact, what you put in your belly can have a major effect on your outer beauty as well, giving new meaning to the commonly heard phrase, “you are what you eat.”

Here’s the lowdown on how your gut influences your face.

Why Your Gut Matters
According to beauty and health expert Carla Oates, creator of The Beauty Chef, our guts are where 70% of our immune system lies, where we make nutrients, metabolize hormones, neutralize pathogens, and make detoxifying enzymes. When these things aren’t in balance, our skin pays the price. “More and more research is showing the gut-skin link,” she explains. “For example, a lack of hydrochloric acid in the gut is implicated in skin problems such as acne and rosacea.”

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What an Unhealthy Gut Looks Like
According to Oates, more than 100 million Americans have digestive problems. Some of the signs that something is amiss in your gut are bloating, constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, reflux, gas, and, as she puts in, “other things too gross to mention.”

All of these symptoms can be a sign of what’s called “leaky gut,” which is quickly becoming a buzzword in the alternative medicine community. Joseph J. Colella, MD author of The Appetite Solution, says that the causes of this condition aren’t yet clear. “Gluten may be the chief culprit, but other dietary factors or stress and aging may contribute,” he says. “The possible mechanism for leaky gut is some form of damage to the lining of the small intestine, allowing various toxins to escape into the bloodstream. This triggers an immune system response that might make you feel ill.”

Getting Your Gut Back on Track
Colella says that trying gluten elimination and cutting back on your intake of sugar might help you avoid abdominal distress and get your gut back on track. Fermented foods also promote better digestive health, leading to greater absorption of nutrients and improved liver, Oates explains. Eating these foods helps clarify and rejuvenate the skin from inside out.

There are two types of fermented foods, prebiotics and probiotics, and both work to balance the digestive tract and boost skin vitality. “Probiotics are types of living friendly bacteria similar to those that inhabit our digestive track—they feed the good bacteria in our gut, helping them to grow and flourish. They’re also essential for optimal digestion of food and absorption of nutrients ” Oates says. “Prebiotics are foods that encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria.”

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Foods to Try
To boost your gut health, try incorporating the following foods that Oates recommends into your daily diet:

Adzuki Beans: Adzuki beans are very high in fiber and are an excellent source of foliate, potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, iron, and other minerals. They are also a good source of antioxidants.

Blueberries: Rich in antioxidants, these anti-inflammatory berries make your skin radiant.

Chia Seeds: A great source of fiber, omega 3s, and protein, Chia seeds are super nourishing and collagen building as well as great helpers for eliminating toxins from the body.

Live Organic Yogurt: Rich in probiotics, this fermented food makes it easier for the gut to do its job as well as promotes the production of healthy bacteria.

Artichokes and Asparagus: These prebiotic rich foods encourage good bacteria in the gut and allow the digestive system to better absorb nutrients.

Saurkraut: Sauerkraut not only helps create good bacteria, it also aids digestion, boosts your immune system, and is rich in vitamin K and vitamin C.