The gut microbiome has a major impact on both our skin health and overall health. It includes bacteria, fungi, and microorganisms throughout the gastrointestinal tract. It is responsible for breaking down the foods we eat and processing the nutrients that make our bodies function in a healthy way.
There are both “good and bad” bacteria that contribute to health or disease within our bodies. Typically, when both types of bacteria are balanced, we are in good shape. But when they become unbalanced (mainly due to diet and lifestyle), various mind/ body ailments can occur.
Ways the Gut Microbiome Affects Our Health
There are forms of bacteria that digest fiber which contributes to a healthy weight and skin, and the prevention of diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. Bacteria also help synthesize certain vitamins and amino acids such as B vitamins (including B12- the enzyme needed to form it is only found in bacteria, not plants, etc.) and vitamin K. B vitamins increase our energy, enhance our moods, boost skin and hair health, improve memory, and support the immune system.
The gut microbiome communicates with the immune system which affects how the body responds to infection.
The gut microbiome produces brain chemicals such as serotonin, dopamine, and cortisol and communicates with the central nervous system which affects brain health.
The gut microbiome directly affects skin health by altering the skin microbiome and regulating the immune system, which is responsible for maintaining balance throughout our bodies, including our skin. When our gut and skin microbiome is out of balance due to an immune response, various skin conditions can occur such as acne, rosacea, pre-mature aging, psoriasis, and even skin cancer.
Ways to Improve Gut Health
Probiotics + Prebiotics
Probiotics contain healthy bacteria and can be found in certain foods or in supplement form.
Fermented foods and foods high in fiber are one of the best natural sources of probiotics.
Some fermented foods you might like are:
- Kombucha (my fave)
- Pickled Vegetables
- Yogurt (with live active culture)
Prebiotics feed and multiply our beneficial microbiota. There are prebiotic supplements but there are also lots of healthy foods that naturally contain prebiotics, such as:
- Bananas and most fruits
- Jerusalem artichokes
- Beans and whole grains
Eat Less Sugar
The bacteria that you feed, grow. This means that sugar multiplies certain types of bacteria that have a negative effect on your health and can create an imbalance in the gut. Negatively affecting the gut microbiome has been shown to influence the brain and behavior.
Managing stress has a significant impact on our overall health including gut health. Studies have shown that stress disrupts the gut microbiome. Both psychological stress and lack of sleep have adverse effects on the gut.
Some of our favorite ways to reduce stress are:
- Infrared Sauna
- Sleep well
- Active relaxation such as a facial or massage
- Eat healthily
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