5 Foods That Are Good for Your Gut Microbiome
Your skin and your gut have more in common than you might think.
For one thing, your skin and your gut contain two of your body’s largest and most important microbiomes – huge populations of microorganisms like bacteria and fungi that help your body work. These microbes assist with bodily functions like digestion and immune defense when working the way they should.
And that’s not all. There’s a growing body of research that says a healthy gut can have a big impact on your skin, and one of the best ways to care for both is to add some gut-friendly foods to your diet.
Let’s take a look at five foods that are good for your gut microbiome (and likely good for your skin too).
Wait! How Does Your Gut Affect Your Skin?
An imbalance in your gut microbiome – what scientists call “dysbiosis” – can aggravate and even cause skin conditions like acne, eczema, and psoriasis.
Basically, the microbiomes on your skin and your gut can impact each other. Both are home to “good” and “bad” bacteria, which respectively assist and inhibit bodily functions. The more “good” bacteria there are, the healthier your gut and skin will be. When the good guys are outnumbered, however, things can get out of whack, causing discomfort and inflammation and opening your system up to unpleasantness throughout the body.
After all, the microbes in our gut transform the foods we eat into enzymes, hormones, vitamins, and more, influencing everything from our immune system to our mental health.
It’s a bit of an oversimplification, but it’s helpful to understand that things that affect the bacteria in our gut can ultimately affect the bacteria on our skin, as well. And that includes food.
How to Improve Your Gut Microbiome
Here are a few foods that give those good gut bacteria a helping hand:
Beans and Lentils
They aren’t called “the magical fruit” for nothing! Beans and lentils are high in fiber, which your gut bacteria love. They convert soluble fiber into metabolites, which help your body better break down food.
The same is true of other fiber-rich foods like oats, fruits (fresh and dried), and certain vegetables, such as artichokes, broccoli, and green peas.
With kimchi, we enter the wide, wonderful world of probiotic foods.
These contain the very same good bacteria (and other organisms) that call your gut home, so eating a healthy dose of them is like seeing your gut in battle and sending in reinforcements.
Kimchi is made by allowing vegetables like cabbage, onions, ginger, garlic, and many more to undergo the process of fermentation. This allows cultures of bacteria like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium to grow, which not only enhance the taste but also thrive in your gut.
Similar foods include yogurt, sauerkraut (fermented cabbage), and kombucha (a fermented tea drink).
If probiotic foods add an extra dose of helpful microbes to your system, prebiotic foods contain the nutrients that help “feed” those good bacteria.
What are those specific nutrients, you ask? Well, not only are they certain types of soluble fiber, they’re also some of the longest words we’ve ever seen: fructooligosaccharide and galactooligosaccharide, for example. Yowza!
Other examples of prebiotic foods include asparagus, leeks, onions, and soybeans, but for our money, bananas are the tastiest.
Smoothies: The Ultimate Combo
When we combine the prebiotic and probiotic foods into one super-effective meal, we think of it as “synbiotic” foods.
A probiotic like yogurt with fiber-rich blueberries? Check. Stir-fry made with tempeh, asparagus, and garlic? Absolutely.
But the greatest of all synbiotic combos might be the smoothie: a great way to mix a whole host of probiotic, prebiotic, and fiber-rich foods like yogurt, bananas, berries, kale, spinach, ginger, and more.
They’re great for breakfast or as a midday snack.
At last, we come to the entrée. Scientists are just beginning to understand the link between the gut microbiome and fatty fish like salmon and anchovies.
A 2017 study suggests that the fatty Omega-3 acids – which we already know work great as an anti-inflammatory – enhance the diversity of the gut microbiome, which means they allow a bunch of new, complementary bacteria to live and thrive.
That variety gives you an abundance of nutrients, all of which work together to keep your gut microbiome in balance. Plus, studies have shown that low diversity in your gut microbiome is linked to diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and other chronic diseases.
What Happens When Your Gut Microbiome Changes?
Caring for the good bacteria in your gut can affect processes all over your body – everything from the immune system to the digestive system to your inflammatory response to your skin. If your skincare routine isn’t doing the trick to help you beat acne, consider adding more of these 5 foods to your diet.
Of course, changing your diet isn’t the only solution for gut and skin problems. However, building healthy habits like these can be a great place to start.
And, if you’re looking to give your gut an extra dose of the good guys, probiotic acne supplements can be a great way to do just that.