Gut health is super important for overall health and for glowing skin. It’s not a very glamorous topic but it’s so important to understand that improving your digestive health is going to drastically improve your health and well being overall.
“Gut health” describes the function and balance of bacteria of the many parts of the gastrointestinal tract. Ideally, organs such as the esophagus, stomach and intestines all work together to allow us to eat and digest food without discomfort.
A healthy gut contains healthy bacteria and immune cells that ward off infectious agents like bacteria, viruses and fungi. A healthy gut also communicates with the brain through nerves and hormones, which helps maintain your mood, general health and well-being.
“If you think about a garden, our gut is like the soil.
The soil needs the right nutrient levels and bacterial balance to support the plants and for them to be strong, their leaves robust and their flowers to blossom. For our skin to be strong, lustrous and radiant, we also need the right bacterial and nutrient balance in our gut.
The gut is where 70% of your immune system lies, where we metabolise hormones, where we make nutrients and neurotransmitters, create detoxifying enzymes and neutralise pathogens. All of these processes can profoundly affect us if not in balance or working properly.
Think of how hormones when out of balance can wreak havoc on your complexion and overall health and wellbeing. If we’re not getting enough nutrients or digesting our food properly due to poor gut health, our skin won’t receive the nutrition it needs to support it. This affects skin elasticity and collagen production and will manifest in dull, lacklustre skin with poor tone. Similarly, if we are not detoxifying properly, the skin – as the body’s largest elimination organ – will suffer.
To achieve a healthy gut, we need to support good bacteria in our digestive system. Bacteria pretty much run the show! The gut is home to trillions of microbes that outnumber the body’s cells by 10 to 1.”
Quote by Carla Oats – The Beauty Chef
What are the signs of gut health problems?
Everyone at some point experiences digestive problems such as abdominal pain, bloating, loose stools, constipation, heartburn, nausea or vomiting. When symptoms persist, it may be a sign of an underlying problem that needs medical attention. Weight loss without a good reason, blood in the stool, black stool (a sign of bleeding in the gut), severe vomiting, fever, severe stomachaches, trouble swallowing food, pain in the throat or chest when food is swallowed, or jaundice (a yellow discoloration of the skin or eyes) could potentially indicate an underlying gastrointestinal problem with serious consequences. Consult your doctor if any of these symptoms occur.
What foods should we eat and lifestyle choices should we make?
- Eat Wholefoods – Food the way nature intended! Nothing processed and try and get organic where you can. Better yet… grow it yourself!
- De-Stress – Do whatever it is that helps you unwind. A physical activity is always a winner as this also helps stretch your body and get the blood flowing. Yoga, meditation, walking, Pilates, breathing exercises and being kind to yourself all help promote beneficial flora. Gut flora is definitely not a fan of stress and overthinking / anxiety.
- Eat probiotic-rich, lacto-fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kefir and yoghurt.
- Eat foods rich in prebiotics. Prebiotics help boost the growth of friendly bacteria. These include non-digestible food substances found in asparagus, bananas, endive, chicory, garlic, globe and Jerusalem artichokes, kefir, leeks, onions as well as foods rich in soluble fibre.
- Eat smaller meals and chew food slowly so it liquefies before you swallow. Saliva contains digestive enzymes that help break down foods.
- Avoid drinking with your meal as it dilutes digestive enzymes.
- Try not to eat when you are angry or stressed as your body’s fight or flight response predominates at those times, meaning digestion is not a priority and is slowed.
- Grains provide a great source of fibre to aid detoxification but can be hard for some people to digest and contain anti-nutrients. If you consume grains, either soak them or ferment them to make them easier to digest. Doing this helps to neutralise anti-nutrients too. It may be worth avoiding them for a while in the initial stages of healing gut health.
- Lemon juice helps stimulate digestion. A shot of lemon juice before all meals can be a good aid to digestion.
- Vegetables are best steamed or sautéed as an excess of raw vegetables can weaken digestion.
- Stop bad bacteria in their tracks; avoid refined foods and sugar.
- Coconut oil is helpful for gut health as it contains lauric acid, which is antibacterial and antifungal.
For more helpful tips and recipes we highly recommend visiting Carla Oats -The Beauty Chef’s website.