All of us have a unique assortment of bacteria in the gut which play a variety of roles, from modulating your immunce response to digestion and even how you’re ageing.
Skincare experts are only beginning to understand the role that gut health plays, but it could well hold the key to looking younger for longer.
Lisa Harris, holistic skincare expert, said: ‘Your gut microbiome weighs about 2kg and is bigger than the average human brain. It’s a bustling community of trillions of bacteria, archaea, fungi and viruses, containing at least 150 times more genes than the human genome.
‘We humans are filled to the brim with microbes, which form microbiomes in our mouths, lungs, eyes, reproductive systems and of course, our skin.
‘According to the experts, our gut is the largest and most significant thing that impacts our short- and long-term health – as well as how we control how quickly we show signs of ageing.’
Here, Lisa Harris, who is qualified in medical aesthetics, sports therapy and holistic therapies, shares the top signs that your gut may need a lifestyle change too.
London-based Lisa Harris, a holistic skincare expert, shares the top signs that your gut may need a lifestyle change from experiencing joint pain and stress to bad breath and bloating (stock image)
Could mean: A diet too high in sugar and processed foods
‘Foods that are rich in non-absorbable undigested fibres, or prebiotics are good to feed the healthy bacteria in the gut,’ explained Lisa.
‘But foods like sugar and processed foods and processed wheat can feed unhealthy bacteria and yeast, this can cause a battle with the healthy bacteria in your gut and result in foul-smelling gas.’
Could mean: Not enough fibre
‘People with IBS can be extremely sensitive to gas, which can cause bloating, pain, cramping and diarrhea. Other causes can be swallowing food too quickly and taking in too much air,’ explained Lisa.
‘Increasing our fibre intake can help to reduce bloating. Most of us eat only half the recommended 30g a day. But start slowly – our guts don’t like rapid change.’
Changes in skin such as breakouts
Could mean: Problem with the immune system
‘Your skin is like a window into the health of your inner world, I suppose,’ said Lisa.
‘That’s why you’re quick to notice a change in your complexion when faced with things like immune system disturbances, hormonal and nutritional imbalances, and even an off-kilter pH in the body, all of which begin with the balance of flora in your gut environment.
‘And because so many things in our lifestyles can wipe out the good bacteria we’re supposed to have, our skin often reflects imbalances in the system.’
Could mean: you’re not taking your probiotics
‘Ongoing bad breath can be a sign of a gut imbalance that’s allowed H. pylori bacteria to build up in your gastrointestinal tract,’ Lisa said.
‘These bacteria can also cause stomach ulcers and so treating them is important. Taking probiotics can help to prevent bad breath by addressing this bacteria.
‘However what people often don’t realise is that it’s always important to take a pre-biotic before you take a pro-biotic, otherwise the pro-biotic won’t be effective.’
Could mean: you’re not eating organic
From eating more fibre to getting your omega 3s – how to keep your gut healthy
Eat more fibre
Most of us eat only half the recommended 30g a day. But start slowly – our guts don’t like rapid change
Teach your children to play in the dirt
Studies have shown that the gut’s population is created in very early life. Allowing children to play outside and dig in the soil – as well as play with domestic animals can undo a lot of the damage that modern lifestyles can have on our gut health.
If you’re going to cut anything out of your diet, cut out processed foods.
Processed foods, and with it salt and sugar affect microbial diversity in the gut immensely.
Eat more omega 3
New research suggests a relationship between gut microbes, omega 3 and brain health
Take or eat probiotics.
Probiotics increase the amount of good bacteria in your gut. Plant based yogurt (dairy is not good for the gut), kefir, fresh sauerkraut and supplements are all good sources of probiotics. But make sure you take a pre-biotic first, as this will ensure the pro-biotic works more effectively.’
‘Gut microbes do things the gut can’t do, helping us to access the nutrients from our food, producing thousands upon thousands of metabolites – useful chemicals – which make vital fatty acids that help to increase our immunity and moderate our body’s inflammatory responses,’ said Lisa.
‘The microbiome is associated with everything. Pick a disease, it’s associated. You can help to balance the microbiome by eating organic fruit and vegetables.
‘The pesticides that are sprayed onto fruit and vegetables kills your microbiome, so by eating organic you can get the nutrients from the food without filling your gut with chemicals.
Also allowing children to play outside in the mud is important. Studies have shown that the gut’s population is created in very early life. Allowing children to play outside and dig in the soil – as well as play with domestic animals can undo a lot of the damage that modern lifestyles can have on our gut health.’
Could mean: Depletion of good flora
‘The physical effects of stress – something we’ve all had to deal with over the course of the past year – can deplete our good flora and leave us looking way older than we feel,’ Lisa explained.
‘Gut flora is the term given to both good and bad bacteria that live in the digestive tract. The type and amount of bacteria present depend on their location in your body, for example the small intestine or the colon.
‘Your colon should be filled with hundreds of different types of bacteria which all have different jobs to do, a depletion of this good flora can be caused by and/or result in stress.’
Could mean: Microbe imbalance in the gut
‘It’s believed that gut health has a definite impact on brain health,’ Lisa revealed.
‘A study of gut health and memory in rats suggested that microbe imbalances in the gut impacted memory formation and recall especially when under stress. It also discovered that eating foods rich in pro-biotics can reduce memory issues.’
For more information about Lisa visit lisaharrisskinscience.co.uk