Ask An Expert: What Should I Eat For Great Skin?

Collage / Alessandra Banal

Australian beauty expert Carla Oates, aka The Beauty Chef, answers a reader’s question about improving skin from the inside out.

Q: Since reaching my 40s, my skin feels drier than it used to but I still suffer from breakouts. I eat reasonably well most of the time, however, I do

A: Having been prone to eczema and dry skin myself, I learned from a very young age the importance of eating well for good skin. Through my research I’ve found we need to eat less high-GI foods — simple carbs, for example.

We know that your gut microbiome doesn’t like sugar and processed foods. The pathogenic bacteria in your gut can cause dysbiosis, which is basically an imbalance between you and your gut microbiome.

Sugar is responsible for glycation, which compromises collagen and causes inflammation in the body. So, I’m a big believer in eating low-GI foods, staying away from sugary, processed foods, and eating more whole foods.

There’s more and more research showing that eating plant-based foods helps your microbiome. Foods with fibre, like your leafy greens, legumes and nuts, are really important because the bacteria in your microbiome feed on those foods and ferment them, and create anti-inflammatory compounds called short-chain fatty acids, which are supeR-important for gut, skin, immune and metabolic health. The Mediterranean Diet is rich in all of the above, and it’s got your healthy fats and proteins as well.

Studies show that a wider variety of vegetables you eat helps to improve microbial diversity in your gut, and microbial diversity is linked with better health.

So eat less sugar, less processed foods, more fibre-rich and lacto-fermented foods. They’ve got all the enzymes and the probiotics — and bone broth is excellent for your gut health.

I’ll have it frozen and put cubes in my smoothies, or I’ll have a cup of bone broth every so often. They’ve got amino acids that are incredibly good for healing your gut, and then foods with plant compounds like polyphenols, like your green tea, cacao, and very dark chocolate that doesn’t have any sugar in it.

Polyphenols help to repair the lining of the gut and heal the gut — they’re incredibly important for feeding your gut microbiome. It’s also important to remember it’s not just about what we eat, it’s about what we don’t eat.

Lifestyle practices are also hugely important. Lots of preclinical studies show that lack of sleep or a disruption in a sleep cycle can disrupt your body’s ability to maintain a healthy microbiome.

We know that stress also can interrupt your gut barrier. Meditation can help restore your gut lining. So look not just at your diet, but your lifestyle as well. All those things can affect your gut microbiome, which can in turn affect your skin and your wellbeing.

Carla Oates is a former beauty editor, award-winning author and founder of The Beauty Chef, which creates bio-fermented, probiotic whole food powders, capsules and elixirs for gut health, glowing skin and wellbeing.

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