Beauty and Your Second Brain

As the eyes are the mirror to one’s soul, the skin is the mirror to one’s digestive tract."

-Dr. Saulius Alkaitis (you may know his Dr. Alkaitis skin care line, a fave of models like Lindsey Wixson)

Here at Beauty Is Wellness, I put serious focus on getting the right beautifying foods in the body, but, for a few reasons, the conversation doesn't always touch on what happens...afterward. For one, digestion and elimination are two topics that are pretty personal. They're also a little different for everyone. Of course, some things are the same across the board— like the fact that both digestion and elimination play an important role for all of us when it comes to looking our most beautiful!

Let's talk about the link between gut health and beauty...


The goings-on in your gut are major factors in how beautiful you look— and feel. Did you know that 95% of all the serotonin (a regulator of mood and sleep, among other things) in the body is found in the gut, otherwise called the enteric nervous system, and often referred to as your 'second brain?' Digestive unrest can have a big impact on your mood, and vice versa. Ever get an instant stomachache or a sudden need to use the bathroom when you're super-nervous?

Emotions aside, your gut often shows signs of unrest (discomfort, bloating, indigestion) when your intestinal flora is imbalanced. An overpopulation of bad bacteria (likewise, a lack of good bacteria) can result from taking antibiotics (commonly prescribed for acne treatment- how ironic is that), and lead to even more skin issues. Talk about a frustrating circle! Important to note: oral contraceptives like the pill can also squelch healthy bacteria in your gut. What to do? Take a daily probiotic (look for one with bifidobacterium and lactobacillus) and eat more fermented foods (pickles cured in brine, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso) to boost your friendly bacteria levels. Don't be surprised if you see an instant improvement in your skin, and feel the difference inside too!

Another issue that can affect your skin, and your overall glow: elimination. Lots of little things cause our elimination patterns to get out of whack now and then, but if you're not on a pretty regular daily elimination schedule, your skin is going to need to work extra hard to compensate for the slowed elimination of waste through your colon. Meaning, you could see regular breakouts. Try getting rid of constipation by eating lots of fresh, whole foods (full of natural fiber) and staying well-hydrated.

Another gut issue that can affect your appearance is a result of food allergies and other gut issues: poor absorption of nutrients. If you're not getting enough of those beauty nutrients that keep your skin, hair and nails strong, healthy and radiant, it will start to show— and fast. Food allergies can cause inflammation in the gut that leads to poor absorption, so be aware of the way your body feels after eating certain allergy-prone foods like wheat and dairy. I'd even recommend eliminating them for a time to see and feel they ways that they influence your body and skin. If you're making a serious effort to eat for beauty and still not seeing results, you may want to check on your levels of vitamins and minerals (helpful info to have anyway!) to make sure you're not suffering from any major deficiencies or allergies.

Your gut may still not be the first thing you think about when you look in the mirror...but remember, a happy belly is one of the less talked-about secrets to lifelong beauty!

Image: Kora Organics