The Gut-Skin Connection: 3 secrets to beautiful skin

People with beautiful, radiant skin, aren’t just lucky! Ok, maybe a few are. But, people with beautiful skin generally tend to follow three secrets. They nourish, protect and treat not only their skin topically, but also their gut internally. If you visited a dermatologist as little as ten years ago, you probably would have been informed the there was little or no connection between diet and skin health, but this is far from accurate. Just as your diet can prevent cancer, ward off degenerative conditions, reverse diabetes and heart disease, so can your diet affect your skin.

Your body is compromised of almost 100 billion cells, all of which are made up of protein and fat. Carbohydrates are the fuel for these cells. If you do not eat enough protein your skin will sag, your hair will fall out and wounds will be slow to heal. If you don’t eat enough good fats, your skin will become dry and dull before its time, and your hair and nails will become brittle. Vitamins, minerals and plant nutrients also help the skin by repairing damage, building it’s structure and maintaining hydration.

Wait! It doesn’t stop there. Even if you eat the healthiest, most nourishing skin diet, this is half the battle. You also need to make sure your digestive system can reap its benefits.

How gut permeability influences your skin

Now let’s talk about digestion. This 38 foot long tube functions completely on its own and is responsible for delivering nutrients to your entire body, including your skin.  The lining of your small intestines is where this magic happens. However, over time, this paper thin lining can become irritated and inflamed, compromising how your body absorbs, digests and assimilates these nutrients. This irritation and inflammation is caused by several factors including stress, drugs, medication, poor diet, toxins, sedentary lifestyle and chemicals from household and personal care products. You may know this phenomenon as intestinal permeability, a.k.a. “leaky gut” and it is highly correlated to the health of your skin.

Let’s take a moment to focus on the latter irritants, personal care products. Yes, the very stuff you put on your skin can affect the health of your gut. Your body’s largest organ, the skin, is porous and absorbs whatever you put on it.  Your body absorbs over 70% of what you put on it. These chemicals leach into your blood stream which circulates throughout the body and can compromise the health of your gut.

With so many variables influencing the health of your skin, I’ve put together 3 simple secrets to help nourish, protect and treat your skin.

3 Secrets to Beautiful Skin

#1 Nourish

A diet plentiful in dark coloured vegetables and fruits, lean meats and fish, and essential fatty acids will benefit your complexion. If you consistently supply your body with the quality raw materials that it needs, it will reward you with smooth, radiant, glowing skin. I call these specific foods your ‘Skin Nutrient Superstars.”

Vitamin A helps prevent acne, blemishes and keeps away dry scaly skin.
Food sources: sweet potatoes, carrots, dark leafy greens, winter squashes, lettuce, dried apricots, cantaloupe, bell peppers, fish, liver, and tropical fruits.

Vitamin B required for new cell formation and protein synthesis, in addition to oxygen usage by skin cells.
Food sources: liver, eggs, dark leafy greens, sardines, mackerel

Vitamin C is required for the formation of collagen, while preventing skin damage.
Food sources: 
peppers, dark leafy greens, broccoli, berries and kiwi fruit

Iron is responsible for oxygen transport to cells, energy production and skin colour. Low iron causes black and blue circles under your eyes.
Food sources: red meat, poultry, dark leafy greens and lentils 

#2 Protect

Aside from protecting your skin from the foods you eat, topical application is also extremely nourishing. More than ever, shoppers struggle to recognize safer beauty products on store shelves because they’re practically indistinguishable.  I recently partnered with CertClean, one of North America’s leading certification companies for safer beauty and personal care products. As a judge for their 2017 Clean Beauty Awards, I’ve had the pleasure of testing out a variety of their natural body care products. So far, so great!

Keep your eyes peeled here for the announcement of the 2017 awards. You can rest assure that these products will naturally nourish your skin from the outside in.

#3 Treat

We’ve reviewed some nutritional and topical remedies for beautiful, glowing skin. To take it up a notch, you can also treat your skin with nutritional supplements. Here are a few of my favourites

GLA for glowing skin: essential fatty acids (EFA’s) are the good fats that are essential for beautiful, dewy skin. They are necessary for moisturizing, preventing skin aging while decreasing wrinkles and treating acne.
Source: GLA can be found in borage oil (approximately 22-24 perfect). Try taking 500mg per day for two months consistently to start seeing results.

Collagen (also known as the foundation of your skin) is the single, most abundant protein in the human body and is critical to skin health.
Sources: it is important to make sure that your collagen obtained from grass-fed and pastured humanely raised sources from a reputable company.  These are two of my favourites Vital Proteins and Multi Collagen Powder

Probiotics: Oral probiotics have been shown to decrease lipopolysaccharide, improve intestinal barrier function and reduce inflammation.
Source: supplement with anywhere between 10-50 billion CFU’s daily

About Nora DeBora

Nora DeBora is one of Toronto's leading Health and Wellness professionals who is certified in holistic nutrition, yoga and personal training. She specializes in digestive wellness and is passionate about educating and empowering her clients to achieve their optimal health goals.

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