When it comes to clearing your skin, the first thing you may be asked is about your diet. It's easy to forget that our skin is our largest organ, and what we consume can have a direct impact on how it looks. Many people who struggle with their skin turn to skincare products, without considering what they are putting in their body. Inflammatory foods such as gluten, dairy, and processed sugars can contribute to breakouts and skin irritation.
I can relate to this personally, as I have struggled with severe acne and PCOS. Unfortunately, I didn't have much guidance as a child and wasn't aware of the correlation between my diet and skin health. It wasn't until I was 27 that I took control of my health and found out I had PCOS. If I had known earlier about the connection between my gut, hormones, and skin, I could have addressed my skin issues much sooner.
I believe that a healthy gut is the foundation for healthy skin and balance hormones. While skincare products and treatments can be helpful, they are only the icing on the cake. When I started my gut health journey, I had to eliminate many of the foods that I loved, such as gluten, dairy, and red meat. I increased my intake of vegetables and focused on allowing my body to heal. It was a process, and at first, I felt like I was eliminating everything that was delicious. But taking care of my gut was so important and had a positive impact on my mental health, stress levels, clarity, physical appearance, and skin.
Everyone's body is different, so what works for me may not work for you. However, I want to share my experience with the foods that helped me ease gut inflammation and improve my skin health.
Here are some of the foods that I found helpful:
- Vegetables: I know it may sound cliché, but we really do need to eat 5+ servings of vegetables a day. After suffering from severe inflammation, my body and gut needed fresh produce to repair and heal. Taking the time to make a proper meal and not just grabbing something quick to eat helped me slow down and relax.
- Fish: Adding more fish to my diet was a great source of protein after cutting back on my red meat intake. Fish is a high-quality, low-fat protein that is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins D. It is also an excellent source of minerals like iron, zinc, iodine, magnesium, and potassium, all of which are crucial for skin health.
- Water-based foods and produce: While drinking water is important for skin hydration, there are also food-based products that can help hydrate your body. Fresh fruits such as oranges and berries are not only high in water content but also have antioxidant properties. Oranges are also high in vitamin C and water.
- Foods high in zinc: Red meat is typically high in zinc, but I had to cut back on it as it was contributing to my inflammation. Luckily, seafood and fish are also high in zinc. Zinc can reduce swelling and redness and regulate oil production in the skin.
- Pre- and probiotic foods: While I cut down on dairy, I found that adding non-sweetened probiotic Greek yogurt to my diet was helpful for my digestion. Yogurt provides calcium and protein, which can enhance healthy gut bacteria.
- A few other foods, miso soup, gluten, and dairy free bread.
It's important to note that while these foods helped me, everyone is different. Just like with any health journey, it's important to find what works for you and your body. Take care of yourself, listen to your body, and notice what reacts badly.