“Gut Health” has become quite the buzzword lately. You may have heard this phrase connected to foods and supplements with probiotics, prebiotics, or other ingredients targeted towards your digestion. But when it comes down to it, you're still asking "what is my gut?"
It seems really crazy that your gut could be affecting the endless list of things that you’re hearing it does, from your skin health to your immune system to your likelihood of feeling anxious or sad. Thankfully, the research surrounding gut health has begun to spring to life just as the products that target it have increased, and we are here to give you some much needed answers!
What do we mean by “Gut Health”?
Before we answer what gut health is, let’s figure out what all the hype is around fixing it. When people are working on improving their gut health, they are targeting the “leaking” of an unbalanced “gut”. Essentially, it’s just bacteria in our bodies that can trigger a series of events that ultimately results in inflammation spreading throughout the body. Sounds fun, right?
If you're still asking, "but what is my gut, exactly?", no worries! Your "gut" is referring to the function and balance of the bacteria found in the gastrointestinal tract. The bacteria that makes up your “gut” is also known as the microbiome. A balanced microbiome is one that has a balance of bacteria that fight inflammation and bacteria that promotes it, with both of them working as a check against the other.
Turns out, skin health has also been linked to a healthy gut! Some health experts believe that when your gut is failing to function properly and isn’t in harmony, your skin may be the first sign. In fact, studies have shown that people with skin issues like acne psoriasis, eczema, or rosacea are up to ten times more likely to have problems with their gut health!
As the body’s largest organ, your skin is going to need the same care and attention you give to any other system in your body, and that goes beyond just a great skincare routine and a daily sunscreen! If you find yourself struggling with skin issues, it might be a good time to do a check-in with your gut health. Inflammation from your gut can certainly trigger no-good skin reactions. We know you want glowing, healthy skin! Who doesn’t? Hopefully you are already giving your skin the TLC it needs on the outside with a skin-healthy daily sunscreen, but don’t forget to focus on the inside, as well!
What else can good gut health help?
Generally speaking, people care about gut health because it’s been linked to a lowered immune system, managing allergy symptoms, lowering diabetes, multiple sclerosis, heart disease, and even anxiety and depression. That’s a scary list of illnesses and issues that have a connection to your microbiome!
Top Strategies to Improve Your Gut Health
So now that we’ve covered all the things that might be occurring deep inside your gut that you may not have been aware of, and what it could be doing to you and your skin, let’s talk about how to correct it! For starters, eating healthy is a great way to start healing your gut and balancing out your microbiome! Fresh, raw vegetables, whole foods, and fermented foods and drinks are great additions to your diet to start tackling your gut, and get glowing skin, from the inside out.
A probiotic can be a great addition to your diet as well, but the best way to ensure you’re getting good bacteria into your gut is through naturally fermented foods like sauerkraut, kombucha, and kefir! Finally, making sure to eat a diet rich in Omega-3’s will also help to keep your skin young and glowing. Omega-3s occur naturally in some foods and are added to other fortified foods. You can get the necessary amounts of omega-3s by eating a variety of foods, including the following:
Fish and other seafood (especially cold-water fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines)
Nuts and seeds (such as flaxseed, chia seeds, and walnuts)
Plant oils (such as flaxseed oil, soybean oil, and canola oil)
- Fortified foods (such as certain brands of eggs, yogurt, juices, milk, soy beverages
As an overall general rule of thumb, if it’s good for your overall health, it’s probably good for your gut health too!
Is there a link between gut health and skin cancer in particular?
While there isn’t a direct, “if you have a healthy gut then you won’t get skin cancer”, of course, there have been recent studies that show patients with a healthy microbiome have improved responses to melanoma treatments, as well as a general stronger immune system, even when it comes to fighting cancers like skin cancer. While having a healthy gut isn’t a miracle cure for your body, it’s going to help you stay healthy in a variety of ways that include a strong immune system. Prevention is always the best route to go, and a healthy gut can be a great prevention method to stop problems before they start.