Your skin is a reflection of your inner health so it is reasonable to assume that if you improve your health then this will in turn have a positive effect on your complexion.
Guest blog contributed by Dr Sam Robson, medical director at Temple Clinic, a specialist skin care and acne clinic in Aberdeen.
Although there are a number of factors that contribute to good health, few could dispute that food and drink will play a significant role. It is not just the nutritional composition of this food and drink that counts though since it is only through being digested and absorbed that any nutrients can enter the body.
The processes of digestion and absorption start in the mouth and continue throughout the gut until the leftover products are discarded as waste when we go to the toilet. So, it makes sense that the gut needs to be healthy in order for its digestive functions to work as well as it can. The gut is home to a huge number of bacteria (collectively known as the microbiome) and these bacteria play a crucial role in keeping the gut healthy as well as ensuring optimum absorption of essential nutrients. A healthy gut will have a diverse variety of many different bacteria and these can roughly be divided into two camps – good bacteria and bad bacteria.
Numerous studies show that not only can having more “good” bacteria than “bad” can positively impact our health and our skin but that various lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise, stress and sleep can influence the proportion of good bacteria in the microbiome.
A high fibre diet incorporating plenty of fresh vegetables, fruit, whole grains, nuts, beans, pulses and oily fish. (classically grouped as the Mediterranean diet)
Probiotics – whether this is as supplements or fermented foods (such as yoghurt, kefir, kimchi, pickles, kombucha). These are live bacteria and yeasts, which enhance the number of good bacteria in your gut.
Minimise sugar intake and refined carbohydrates (this includes white foods such as bread, rice, cakes), pastries, milk chocolate and “fast food”
Limit artificial sweeteners, which can be found in diet drinks – the artificial sweetener destroys good bacteria
Caution with alcohol – most alcohol will disrupt the balance of good: bad bacteria but red wine, in moderation, can actually boost the numbers of good bacteria
Avoid unnecessary antibiotics since these can wipe out ALL bacteria and it can take many months to restore a healthy balance again.
2. A regular fitness regime
not only directly affects the microbiome but also can influence your food choices, encouraging you to eat more healthily.
3. A good sleep schedule
directly influences the microbiome but also influences appetite, food choices and energy levels- which will affect your motivation to stick to your fitness regime.
4. Actively try to manage your stress
– whether it is through practices such as yoga, meditation or just taking time out.
So – the take home message –if you look after your gut then it will in turn look after your skin.
Over the course of her 28 years of practice, Dr Robson has become progressively aware of the need to integrate the physical, psychological and social aspects of patient care. When considering problem skin, for example, the interactive effects of diet, exercise, stress and social factors are at the forefront of her holistic approach.
In her blog series, she explores the complex world of microbiome, debunks myths about dieting and provides invaluable tips on how we can improve our wellbeing. Click the link below to visit her latest blog:
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