We all know that what we eat matters, but you might not be aware of how much it matters when it comes to the health of you skin. Our skin is our biggest organ, so when something’s going wrong somewhere else in the body, it’s pretty common for it to also manifest on our faces. When your digestion is out of whack or your gut has been damaged, that inflammation can show up on your skin as eczema, rosacea or acne. So while I love skincare products as much as the next beauty obsessed, I know that if I’m not supporting my gut health, then the beauty products I use will only get me so far.
This is where beauty foods come in. They’re the foods that nourish our bodies from the inside, so we can glow on the outside. One of my favourite categories of beauty foods is ferments: think sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, yogurt, kombucha, miso and sourdough. To break it down to the basics, fermentation is the process of bacteria being used to break down the sugars and starches in foods. One of the most common methods is lacto-fermentation, which uses specific species of bacteria that can actually improve the bioavailability of nutrients and provide your gut with a generous dose of probiotics and postbiotics (the byproducts of probiotics). Essentially, fermentation improves our bodies ability to digest and absorb the nutrients in our food, and gives us a hit of gut-loving bacteria that interacts with and supports our immune system.
During fermentation, the probiotic cells consume all of the oxygen, which then causes the foods that are being fermented to produce large amounts of antioxidants. Antioxidants are incredibly important for skin health, because they work hard to prevent, protect and limit damage caused by free radicals, AKA major skin-aging compounds. These antioxidants will help promote brighter glowing complexions, while also working to reduce fine lines and wrinkles.
When it comes down to it, it’s pretty clear why fermented foods are such a radiance-boosting addition to your diet: they increase the bioavailability of nutrients in food, they encourage microbial diversity in the gut by providing a big dose of probiotic bacteria, they support a healthy immune system, work to minimize inflammation AND produce antioxidants that fight off skin-aging free radical damage. All together, they help the gut work smoothly, reduce inflammation in our bodies and allow us to absorb all the beautifying nutrients in our food. So swap out your toast for sourdough, add yogurt to your breakfast bowls, top you salads with forkfuls of sauerkraut and sip on some kombucha mocktails…trust me, your skin will thank you!
Julia Gibson is a Certified Nutritional Practitioner, functional foods recipe developer, and writer currently based in Toronto. She hopes to inspire and empower others by creating nourishing foods, living a sustainable life, promoting holistic healing and sharing thoughtful writing.