The Probiotic Glow – Part 3: “How to feed and protect your beauty bug garden”
So we know that probiotics help us have shiny hair and healthy skin – and are just plain essential for our overall wellbeing (see Probiotic Glow – Part 1), and we know where to source them from diet and nature (see Probiotic Glow Part – 2), but how do we sustain our colony of good bugs? Two important actions are necessary: first - feed your bugs, and second protect them from harm.
How to feed your gut bacteria with Prebiotics.
Since microorganisms such as probiotics are living organisms, they need sustenance for survival. In this instance probiotic food is referred to as “pre-biotics”. Good sources of prebiotics contain certain fibres, including fructans, inulin and galacto-oligosacharides - but nevermind trying to pronounce these words, just eat these foods listed below!
Vegetables: Artichoke, cabbage, garlic, onions, beetroot, spring onions, peas, corn, snow peas, shallots, leek, DANDELION GREENS.
Fruit: Bananas, Custard apples, nectarines, white peaches, persimmon, tamarillo, watermelon, rambutan, grapefruit, pomegranate. Dried fruit (eg. dates, figs)
Legumes: Chickpeas, lentils, soybeans, kidney beans, navy beans
Grains: Oats, Barley, Rye, Wheat and Wheat Bran
Nuts & Seeds: Cashews, Almonds, Pistachios,
With research now abundant in this area, there will certainly be more foods added to list in the near future ^^
Factors that harm our friendly bacteria
Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) is basically when there is an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine – bacteria that is usually found in the colon. Like an invasive weed that has taken over a sister land, this can cause disruption of the digestive system and reduce effectiveness of helpful bacteria usually found in the small intestine –causing symptoms such as gas, bloating, cramping, diarrhoea/constipation, food sensitivities (especially to dairy and fruit), reflux, vitamin and mineral deficiencies (especially iron & B12), skin rashes and related sensitivities such as eczema and acne. What causes SIBO you may ask? SIBO has numerous causes including medications, stress, gastro, low stomach acid, high GI diet (bad bacteria feed off sugar), and poor colonization of good bacteria.
So far in relation to skin health –research has discovered SIBO is present in several skin conditions including Scleroderma (Parodi et al, 2008)- an autoimmune skin condition results in the breakdown of connective tissue. Studies have also revealed that people with Acne Rosacea demonstrate significantly higher levels of SIBO than those without. Such findings hold promising information for innovating the treatment of these skin conditions.
The Brain-Gut-Skin theory is an area of science exploring the way our emotional self impacts our digestion and our skin. This is by no means a new theory, and studies on the topic date back to the 1930’s. Unfortunately this holistic and logical approach was oppressed by unnecessary pill pushing from the pharmaceutical industry looking to get quick results and (quick cash) but unfortunately these results were short lived and in some cases cause more harm than good. I speak from both personal experience here, along with my health science background. As a young teenager with bad acne I was prescribed everything from antibiotics and the contraceptive pill to roaccutane as ways to control my acne – whilst these gave temporary relief my acne came back with a vengeance by the time I was 19 along with the side effects of hormonal imbalance and highly sensitive skin and eczema. Never was I consulted about my diet or psychological wellbeing – which of course both were in a terrible state! Whilst I have now developed my own skin care range, I use these blogs to educate and empower our customers with the knowledge to embrace a holistic approach when it comes to their skin health.
Thankfully the Brain-Gut-Skin theory is now back in the spotlight within the scientific world. Authors of the field have connected emotional states such as depression and anxiety with alteration of our gut bacteria which in turn impact inflammatory conditions of the skin such as dermatitis and urticaria and have discovered links between stress, gut health and acne (Bowe & Logan, 2011).
Psychological stress has been linked with reduction of beneficial bacteria, particularly Lactobacilli and Bifidobacterium. It is also known that when we are stressed our stomach acid secretions also reduce, which makes our upper digestive system more inhabitable for bacteria from the colon – this can result in SIBO.
POOR DIET & LIFESTYLE
An overall poorly balanced diet that is high in alcohol, saturated fats, sugar, and medications, or a lifestyle that is synthetic and removed from natures - creates an unhappy environment for our good bacteria to thrive. I could write a twenty thousand word thesis quite easily going over every detail, but to simplify things, think of this. …
You can’t plant a flower seed then water it with lemonade or vodka and expect it to thrive. We are natural beings, and for our little world of beneficial bacteria to survive, a natural balanced way of living full of probiotic and prebiotic rich foods, spending time in nature and a little stress management is a good place to start.