Your microbiome is the universe of bacteria that exists inside your body. Sometimes these bacteria can cause disease, but most of the time microorganisms live in harmony with you, their host. In the past, we only focused on the ways harmful bacteria interact with us. Today, we are learning how to look after and promote these “good” bacteria to create lasting, holistic health.
The germ theory of disease — kill the germs, cure the disease — informed twentieth century medical practice. Antibiotics saved many lives, but their overuse led to arguably the biggest discovery so far of the twenty first century: microbial balance is one of the keys to maintaining optimal health. What you may not know is that bacteria not only inhabit your gut, but your whole body, skin included.
In essence we also have a ‘skin microbiome’. The collection of microorganisms and bacteria that naturally live on your skin is a fascinating ecosystem composed of living biological and physical components occupying diverse habitats and as with the gut, disruptions in microfloral balance can result in disorders or infections.
Your outsides are a reflection of your insides
Your gut and skin microbiome are inextricably linked, and what happens in your gut usually gets reflected on your skin and complexion.
If you know a little bit about health, you know this: what you put into your body has a big impact on what happens on the outside of your body. Food, water, supplements — they all help shape a healthy person, but not all the credit, or attention, should be given to these sources of nutrition.
The microbiome can help you get glowing skin, balanced weight, and a youthful essence.
Because so many things in our lifestyles can wipe out the good bacteria we’re meant to have, your skin often reflects imbalances in the system. What’s worse, the physical effects of stress can deplete our good flora and leave us looking way older than we feel.
Beauty (and happiness!) is an inside job
By addressing gut imbalances with probiotics or probiotic foods, we can equip our bodies to produce the proper brain chemicals we need to deal with stress and modern life, regulate our hormones, and stabilize our moods. It’s now a well-known fact that over 90% of all the serotonin (the “happy chemical”) in our body is produced in our gut!
And because of this gut-brain-skin connection, replenishing our friendly bacteria can even promote bright and youthful skin because they help keep our cortisol levels right where we want them, instead of producing unnecessary stress—and dulled skin—as a response.
Here’s what you can do to keep your gut and skin microbiomes healthy:
A rough guide – 1 liter per 30kg of body weight. Add a pinch of good salt to every liter for minerals. This will help your body absorb and hydrate better.
- Eat healthy
This is a no brainer. Beating cravings can be hard but fixing your gut will make it easier – read here.
I recommend protein and good fats with every meal (this includes butter, ghee and coconut oil) and vegetables for your carb intake. Avoid highly processed foods, extra sugar and grains.
- Take care of your gut
Avoid antibiotics unless you really need them. Even one dose can have a devastating effect on your microbiome.
Eat fermented foods every day. Raw fermented foods are a rich source of probiotics and gift you all their other nutrients and enzymes at the same time. Sauerkraut, kimchi, yoghurt and kefir are all great options.
Here are some easy ways to add them into your diet.
- Avoid antimicrobial soaps and sanitizers.
Excess cleanliness and the use of antimicrobial hand sanitizers and soaps contributes to skin dysbiosis and antibiotic resistance, thus stoking various skin conditions. An imbalanced microbiome, or skin dysbiosis, is associated with many diseases, including psoriasis, allergies, eczema, contact dermatitis, acne, poor wound healing, skin ulcers, dandruff, yeast and fungal infections, rosacea, and accelerated skin aging.
A good rule of thumb – if you can’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin!
- Work up a sweat a few times a week.
If you’re eating well, the sweat you produce is likely a fortifying prebiotic for the skin microbiome.
- Try a topical probiotic.
Emerging research on using kefir or yogurt on skin looks promising as well, and is a common practice in some cultures around the world.
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