Our skin is a reflection of what is going on with our health beneath the surface

Most of us have heard the saying ‘you are what you eat’ – and when it comes to the skin, it’s largely true. What we put in our body and how it’s functioning internally usually shows up on the outside. Skin problems such as acne, rosacea and dryness are often a signal that something is off in our body.

In fact, rosacea has been linked with various gastrointestinal diseases including inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Atopic dermatitis (eczema), which affects about one million Australians, has been shown to be connected to gut microbiome – that is, our gut bacteria or gut flora. Research has found that children without atopic dermatitis have more gut microbiome compared with those with the condition.

Functional medicine seeks to get to a problem at the root cause. Conventional doctors typically treat acne, rosacea, atopic dermatitis and other skin problems by describing lotions, steroids and antibiotics which can lead to further disruption of the gut. Although they are often very effective, it’s important to also consider what you can do naturally to help resolve your skin issue in the long-term.

The first is to opt for fresh foods instead of packaged foods that are high in fat, salt or sugar. The next step is to eat a wide variety of this produce to help diversify your gut microbiome. Strive for lots of vegetables and fruit – eat all of the colours of a rainbow!

Another way to improve the skin is to consume foods that can help boost collagen. Collagen is a protein, which is found in connective tissue, skin, tendons, bones, and cartilage. It provides structural support to tissues and can boost skin regeneration. Our body naturally produces collagen, but as we age, our collagen production declines, which is why it’s important to increase production through diet and a healthy lifestyle. People who have a diet high in added sugar and highly processed foods can experience premature ageing – a process called glycation.

The seven collagen building blocks are lysine, proline, silica, zinc, selenium (many women are deficient in this), glycine and vitamin C. More and more people are reaching for collagen powders and supplements (which have become popular in recent years) that contain these building blocks to prevent fine lines and wrinkles. However, there are lots of foods that can help with collagen production. These include vitamin C-rich foods such as berries, broccoli, and tomatoes; amino acids such as fish, tofu, eggs, dairy and wholegrains; as well as foods with zinc like cashews, almonds and pumpkin seeds. Foods high in iron, including, red meat, spinach, quinoa and legumes can also boost collagen production.

Ready to help your skin and your gut through good nutrition? Join our Feel Fabulous by Friday program here.