Taking care of your inner health has a huge influence on your skin. Chiza Westcarr from the Nutritional Skincare Academy reveals the science behind getting a glow.
The gut is home to the largest colonies of microbes, with the average healthy adult carrying up to 2kg of these tens of trillions of microorganisms, made up of yeasts, fungi, viruses archaea. Collectively known as the gut microbiota, with their more than 3,000,000 genes (150 times more than human genes) they are also referred to as the gut microbiome. These trillions of microbes are essential to health, and form a living fabric of natural controls, affecting bowel regularity, weight gain and loss, nutrition and are critical to the normal development of the immune system, with up to 80% of the body’s immune system located in the gut lining. In the average human, gut microbes outnumber cells that make up the human body by nearly 10 to 1! They play a key role in detoxification being involved in the metabolism of excess oestrogen and xenoestrogens.
These are also involved in the processing and absorption of nutrients, produce vitamins, hormones and neurotransmitters (95% of serotonin is produced in the gut), and ferment fibre in the large colon, and in the process, produce anti-inflammatory metabolites, known as short chain fatty acids, that provide vital energy for enterocytes, the cells lining the gut. Microbes can be found throughout the digestive tract and vary with pH, gender, diet, climate, age, occupation, and hygiene. Commensal or indigenous microbes prevent the overgrowth of those that are potentially pathogenic and disease-causing. Microbes, in order to thrive, depend on a plant based diet that is high in fibre and low in naturally occurring sugars. Their diversity and numbers are determined by the variety of vegetables and small amount of fruit consumed, as these serve as prebiotics or their food source.
THE WESTERN DIET
This is unfortunately known for its highly processed, refined ‘fast’ foods such as sugar laden cakes and biscuits, deep fried chips, chocolates and lollies, soft drinks, alcohol, and is a diet containing very little fibre. Consequently, it is a diet that drives both inflammation and disease. The health of the gut microbiota is heavily influenced by diet and can be a central or a contributing cause of many diseases, affecting both near and far organ systems, including the skin.
Gut permeability or ‘leaky gut’ has long been linked to long-term medication, antibiotics, chronic stress and a poor diet. It refers to an increased permeability within the intestinal wall. Tight junctions “open up”, allowing the passage of unscreened, often toxic molecules, including partially digested food particles, as well as disease-producing microbes to flow directly into the bloodstream. These toxic molecules include inflammatory lipopolysaccharides (LPS), growth factors and cytokines, which all function as signalling molecules or biological messengers that communicate with signalling molecules released from skin cells, initiating responses long associated with inflammatory skin conditions.
HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR SKIN
A good start would be to exclude inflammatory sugars and fats and eat a diet primarily made up of plant food sources that are both as diverse and natural as possible. Bone broth from a grass fed and finished animal source is a great source of an amino acid called glutamine which helps restore those joins between gut cells, and stops permeability. Moderate amounts of well sourced protein and good quality fats are also very important. Leading busy lives, with very little spare time, has resulted in chronic stress, poor sleep hygiene, along with poor eating habits and food choices.
THE RISE OF SUPPLEMENTS
This ‘busyness’ has given rise to the convenience of ‘Nutricosmetics’, the new kid on the block in the skincare industry, a new generation of powders, elixirs and capsules, working alongside topical preparations and in-clinic treatments to better support skin health.
Typically nutricosmetics are sourced from foods and provide adequate doses of beneficial nutrients, such as zinc, collagen, curcumin, vitamins and polyphenols for antioxidant protection and overall health, and pre-and probiotics for all important gut support. Unlike nutraceuticals, a term coined by Dr Stephen DeFelice, a physician and founder of the Foundation for Innovation in Medicine coined the term in 1989 to describe ‘a food or part of a food such as a dietary supplement that has a medical or health benefit including the prevention and treatment of disease’, nutricosmetics are not meant to be curative, but instead play a supportive role, serving as an easy option for the time poor amongst us to obtain vital nutrition, especially where the diet is deficient. In skin clinics there is now so much choice available, Australian brands compete with brands from Europe and the USA, all offering support for inflammatory conditions such as acne, rosacea, hyperpigmentation and ageing. The market for nutricosmetics continues to grow annually at a significant rate, with today’s consumer a lot more savvy about nutritional products and the role they play in overall health. It is incumbent on the Clinician, now more than ever to upskill and gain confidence in discussing with their clients how nutricosmetics might also be of benefit to their specific concerns, because believe me, if they are not buying them from you, they sure are getting them some place else.
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