The skin is closely connected to the gut and supporting gut function and keeping it healthy can help give you youthful skin. There are a number of studies linking the use of probiotics to healing blemishes, eczema, acne, rosacea and anti-ageing. Up to 80% of our immune system lives in our gut and a strengthened immune system benefits all of the organs in the body, including skin. Further, inflammation of the gut is believed to be a factor lurking behind a number of illnesses, so if you can heal your gut your body will be better able to heal itself.
From homemade kefir and miso soup to fermented vegetables, there’s so many remedies out there, but which ones can we really trust? Jenna Farmer, Nutritional Therapist and gut health writer, shares her top six gut health foods:
Sauerkraut. Made from fermenting raw cabbage, it’s easy to make and this probiotic is a great vegan, plant-based source of good gut bacteria! Perfect for those who can’t tolerate dairy. You can find raw sauerkraut in the refrigeration section of most health food shops. Or go for kimchi which is sauerkraut’s spicy Korean brother.
Salmon. Oily fish is a fantastic source of omega 3 fats – something most of us simply don’t get enough of. Oily fats are proven to fight inflammation and are great for dry skin as well as clearing up acne. Victoria Beckham eats salmon every single day which she swears gives her youthful skin which is completely blemish-free.
Turmeric. This wonder-spice is pretty much the solution to everything from arthritis to depression and skin problems and it’s amazing for your gut too! Turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory and is a wonder for healing acne, acne scars, and its antibacterial and antiseptic qualities prevent breakouts giving you healthy, youthful skin. The key is to make sure you take turmeric with black pepper – since it contains a compound which helps the turmeric absorb properly.
Flaxseed. The often overlooked flaxseed is another brilliant source of omega 3. It’s also full of soluble fibre, which can help gently move toxins through the gut meaning you’re more likely to full absorb nutrients in your food. It’s known for being an anti-inflammatory that helps wounds heal swiftly and is fabulous for soothing rashes, spots, or any kind of skin irritation. Buy in milled form and add to juices, soups and smoothies or sprinkle on your breakfast.
Watermelon. This lycopene packed anti-inflammatory improves heart health and immunity, boosts energy, improves sleep, aids with healing, detoxes the body, fights off muscle soreness and kidney stones and is a good source of amino acids including Arginine, as well as magnesium and vitamins, A, C and vitamin B6. All of this adds up to a snack which is hydrating, because it’s 92% water, and a brilliant youthifier because of lycopene’s ability to fight free radical damage. One to eat every day with summer coming up – especially as it weighs in at just 46 calories per cup.
Bone broth. Bone broth might seem another trendy fad but it’s been around for centuries. Bone broth is simply the broth left behind after slow cooking bones from chicken or beef. This probiotic wonder is packed full of L-glutamine and amino acids: both of which can contribute to a healthy gut lining and glowy, youthful skin. Making it by yourself is super simple. Ask your butcher for some bones, they almost always give them away for free. You can use any type of bone you like, but do try to go for organically raised, grass fed animals. The best bone broth comes from beef marrow and knuckle bones. You’ll need 3-4 pounds of bones. Add in 2 pounds of some meaty bones like ribs, 1/2 cup of raw apple cider vinegar, 4 quarts of filtered or bottled water. (You can use tap if you want). Add 3 celery stalks, chopped, 3 carrots, chopped, 3 diced or sliced onions, a handful of fresh parsley and some Himalayan sea salt. Keep the veg to one side and throw the rest into a large pot and leave for one hour, the apple vinegar will suck the minerals out of the bones. Add the vegetables and more water if needed so that the bones are covered, bring to the boil. There will be a fatty layer on the top, skim this off and throw it away. Reduce the heat right down to a very low simmer and 24-72 hours. You can turn off at night if you prefer and put it back on a very low heat to simmer all the way through the next day. Let the broth cool and strain it, taking out all the bones, which should have no marrow left in them. Add sea salt, a handful of fresh parsley and serve. If you want you can also add a pinch of fresh turmeric and a pinch of black pepper for extra added anti-inflammatory goodness. It will keep for up to a week in the fridge, or you can freeze and use as a base for other soups.
Jenna Farmer is a Nutritional Therapist who specialises in gut health issues. She has written ‘Managing IBD: A guide to Inflammatory Bowel Disease’ and runs gut health website www.abalancedbelly.co.uk
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