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5 gut-friendly lunch ideas for happy, healthy skin

If you struggle with stubborn acne that doesn’t seem to respond to the usual treatments, your microbiome may be to blame. 

See, when the microbiomes in your gut or on your skin aren’t quite working the way they should, you can end up with an overgrowth of inflammation- and acne-causing bacteria. In this case, topical treatments and antibiotics might help temporarily, but you still need to address the root cause – not enough good bacteria in your bod to keep those itty bitty bad actors in check.

Fortunately, there are tons of things you can do to get your gut and skin bacteria back in balance, from taking skin-friendly probiotics to adding more microbiome-friendly foods to your diet.

To make it easy, we’ve complied 5 delicious suggestions for meals that contain prebiotics and probiotics – and none of the foods that can make acne worse.

1. Bulgur with root vegetables 

If you want to give your gut microbiome a boost, prebiotic foods (the ones that feed your good bacteria) are a great bet. Try a bulgur bowl with gut-friendly root veggies like pickled beets, sweet potatoes, celeriac, and carrots. Toss with a probiotic yogurt dressing and you should be on your way to a healthier microbiome.

2. Korean-inspired grain bowl

Kimchi is one of the healthiest (and tastiest!) probiotic foods out there right now, meaning it introduces more good bacteria to your gut. Combine a whole grain like farro with cooked chicken seasoned with a little gochugaru, sliced cucumber with toasted sesame oil, and kimchi to get a tasty lunch with a Korean twist that’s good for your gut and skin microbiomes. 

Worth noting: White rice, while delicious, is a simple starch that breaks down into sugars too easily and can aggravate inflammation and acne.

3. Salmon salad with a probiotic dressing

Make yourself a salad with nutrient-rich greens, a piece of baked salmon, and a combination of prebiotic add-ons like nuts, seeds, quinoa, citrus, and apples. Then all that’s left is to top it off with a skin-friendly probiotic dressing like this miso-ginger dressing:

Probiotic miso ginger dressing recipe:

Add to a small blender or food processor:

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 inch ginger, peeled

2 Tbsp white miso

1 Tbsp roughly chopped carrot

1 Tbsp tahini

1-2 Tbsp sesame oil (or good olive oil, if sesame oil isn’t your thing)

2 Tbsp rice vinegar or lemon juice

Salt & pepper to taste

This will make more dressing than you’ll need for one salad, but can be saved in the fridge and used for up to a week. Depending on the consistency of your tahini, you may need more or less liquid, don’t be afraid to adjust until it feels right to you.

Looking for something simpler? Combine apple cider vinegar and good olive oil for a two ingredient gut-friendly dressing, if that’s more your speed!

4. Daal, chana masala, and raita with brown rice

Combine these three classic Indian foods with microbiome-friendly brown rice to make a powerhouse pre- and probiotic lunch. 

Daal is both the Indian name for split pulses (lentils, peas, and beans), and the name of soups commonly made from them. Whichever you pick, lentils, peas, and beans are good for your gut. Chana masala is a spiced chickpea dish – chickpeas being another microbiome-booster – and raita is a condiment made with yogurt and cucumber. 

While these three things each have many different regional variations, the building blocks will give your gut a boost regardless of the exact recipe you choose (or order, if you’re looking for a good takeout option!). 

5. Microbiome Oktoberfest

While white bread buns, pork sausage, sweetened apple sauce, and fried potatoes might not be the best choice for your gut bacteria, you might be surprised. You can have a tasty lunch that’s not so far off that’ll make your microscopic acne-fighting buddies say, “Wow!”* 

Try out a chicken and apple sausage in a whole wheat or seed bun with sauerkraut, which is probiotic, and a side that may come as a surprise: potato salad. See, when potatoes are freshly cooked, the starch they contain is too easy to digest. Your body can turn into into glucose quickly, which makes it a biotic bad guy. But when potato starch gets cold, studies show it becomes more resistant to digestion and can have positive prebiotic effects for your microbiome. So a nice cold potato salad on the side might just be a good thing. 

*Well, not literally. They can’t talk, as far as we know. But if they could, they’d be singing your praises after eating these lunches.

Or come up with your own probiotic meals with these gut-friendly foods

Prefer to come up with your own ideas? No problem! Here’s a list of pre- and probiotics foods that are good for your microbiome.

Prebiotic foods:

  • alliums (Garlic, onions, and leeks)
  • fish
  • root vegetables (beets, celeriac, turnips, carrots, Jerusalem artichokes, sweet potatoes, etc.)
  • asparagus
  • dandelion greens
  • seaweed
  • fruits (especially apples, bananas, raspberries, and citrus fruits)
  • vegetables in general (eating seasonally and with variety has positive effects on your microbiome too) 
  • beans, lentils, and split peas
  • whole grains like wheat, oats, and barley 

Probiotic foods:

  • kefir
  • yogurt with live active cultures
  • tempeh
  • kombucha
  • kimchi
  • miso
  • sauerkraut
  • pickled vegetables

Word to the wise: while these foods are great for your microbiome, changing your whole diet overnight isn’t good for any part of your body. It’s better to make changes slowly so your body has time to adjust – otherwise you might be in for a few unpleasant days of gas and bloating.

Start the work week off right with a probiotic lunch

Now you’re fully equipped to make food choices that support your microbiome. A healthy, happy microbiome helps your body fend off infection and reduces inflammation, which in turn helps fight acne and its causes throughout your system.

That said, sometimes diet alone isn’t enough. If you’re struggling with stubborn acne, giving your microbiome a bigger boost may be just the ticket to end the battle. Check out our skin-friendly probiotics and bad-bacteria-busting, probiotic-powered skincare products.

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