YOUR GUT & THE BEAUTY STANDARD: THE LINK BETWEEN YOUR GUT & YOUR SKIN
“Glowing From Within” Starts With Your Gut
Do you ever stop to think about how much your gut impacts how you look? No, we’re not talking about muffin tops. We’re talking about your digestive system!
Usually when we try to make ourselves more beautiful–whatever that means to you–it has to do with the “outside” of yourself. Putting on a face mask, applying SPF every day, or using a Vitamin C serum are all external things you do to make yourself more beautiful and healthy-looking.
But what if we told you that real beauty came from the inside? That’s right, your gut can help you get that “glow from within” look that everybody’s dying for. Here’s what you need to know:
The Gut-Skin Axis: East Versus West
You might not think about your digestive tract very much, but you probably should. It’s actually one of the most important parts of your body. It contains over 70% of your immune system and is the main producer of the “happy chemical,” serotonin. In fact, it has a hand in everything from our weight and energy levels to our hormones and skin.
More and more studies are uncovering the connection between the gut and skin, called the gut-skin axis by those in the know. Rosacea, psoriasis, and acne have all been linked to inflammation in the gut, showing the direct link between the two organs.
So how are you supposed to keep your gut healthy, according to Western medicine? Well, to know that you need to know a little bit more about the gut in general. Your gut is a single celled barrier that divides your intestinal tract from the rest of your body. That’s a good thing, because your intestinal tract holds lots of bacteria, some good and some bad. But you want that bacteria to stay inside of your intestines, not outside.
When the gut gets inflamed this barrier becomes weaker, throwing your immune system and skin all out of whack. Plenty of things can irritate your gut, like:
- Food allergies
- Some medicine
- Food poisoning
- Germs and bacteria
How To Keep your Gut Healthy
Your gut is a microbiome that holds trillions of bacteria, virus, and pathogens that work together to digest food, absorb nutrients, and create hormones. Here’s some tips from Western medicine to keep that complex environment happy and healthy:
- More Probiotics. Probiotics are a good kind of bacteria in our guts that helps us digest foods. However, we don’t always get enough of them from the food we eat, and this can disrupt the microbiome in our gut. If your probiotic levels are low, try to eat more fermented foods like kimchi, kombucha, or sauerkraut to restore them and keep your gut healthy. Probiotics with fat, like plain yogurt or olives survive the journey through the acidic stomach better.
- Skip The Sweetner. As a teen, you probably heard the myth that chocolate makes you break out. Well, that may be an urban legend, but studies have found that artificial sweeteners can negatively affect gut health by raising the levels of dangerous bacteria. This irritation could lead to acne. So next time you grab a coffee, swap the splenda for the real thing, or better yet, skip it altogether.
- Avoid Antibiotics. Let’s be clear here–if your doctor says you need antibiotics, you should probably listen to them. But just be aware that they can seriously mess with your gut, so it’s best not to over-rely on them and take them too often. Plus, according to the CDC, antibiotics are overprescribed 30% of the time, so don’t be shy about asking for a second opinion.
Western medicine might think they’re discovering the connection between the gut and the skin, but TCM has had a ‘gut feeling’ about it all along. Bad puns aside, the gut-skin axis is nothing new in the world of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
In fact, in TCM, everything in the body is connected. TCM is a holistic medicine that considers everything from your natural constitution to your diet or even your stress levels. And when one thing is out of whack, the rest of the body can feel the side effects.
TCM practitioners have always known how important the gut is, because it’s thought that Qi, or vital life energy, is made in the digestive system. If you have a Qi deficiency, that can affect your body and your mind. Western medicine is focused on the gut-skin connection but in TCM, the gut affects everything, including your outside appearance.
If your gut is unhealthy, your Qi production could slow down, leading to Qi deficiency. Some beauty-related symptoms of Qi deficiency are:
- Yellow, dull complexion
- Insomnia, which can lead to eye bags and make skin age quickly
- Extreme sweating
Of course, the effects go far beyond just your outward appearance. Qi deficiency can look like extreme fatigue, shortness of breath, menstrual issues, and digestive problems, too.
Gut Health According To TCM
If you’re trying to keep your gut healthy and happy, here are some guidelines to follow from Traditional Chinese Medicine.
- Find Balance. TCM is all about reaching harmony within yourself. To do that, you have to balance your yin and yang levels. That’s why you need to make sure you eat the right amount of yin (cooling) foods and yang (warming) foods. Of course, if you have a lot of excess heat in your body, opt for more cooling foods and vice versa.
- Eat Mindfully. When it’s time to eat, turn off the computer and put your phone on Do Not Disturb. If you multitask while you eat, blood is taken away from the digestive system and it can’t do its job right.
- Eat Early. Your Qi flows through your body throughout the day in a cycle. From 7 am to 11 am, Qi is in your stomach and spleen helping to power the digestive system. It’s best to eat most of your food during this time of the day because that’s when they can do their best work.
Beauty isn’t just in the eye of the beholder–it’s also in the gut. So whether you do it because you want to take care of the outside of your body or the inside, just try to pay a little more attention to your gut and you’ll see the results.