The gut-skin connection is a hot topic in beauty right now with more and more experts saying that the state of the bacteria in our stomach affects our skin. It makes sense really, you just have to think of that classic saying, ‘you are what you eat’.
The internal and external syncing forms the crux of naturopathic doctor Dr Nigma Talib’s new book Reverse the Signs of Ageing (£13). Talib, who counts Kate Bosworth, Sienna Miller and Charlotte Tilbury among her famous fans, is now letting everyone in on the secret of good skin: Glowing, healthy skin starts in the gut. Read on to find out what foods are causing your skin problems.
'I have seen eating the wrong diet create premature ageing on someone’s skin in a very short period of time,' reveals Talib. In fact, it can sometimes take as little as a weekend of overdoing it to cause your gut to become inflamed, wreaking havoc on your skin she says. You know how it is, you spend a weekend indulging in fun foods and drinks only to wake up Monday morning looking like you’ve aged two years, rather than two days. Suddenly Friday’s clear complexion has made way for spots, puffiness, fine lines, dark circles and a loss of glow. So how do you know if your diet is wrong? Unfortunately, it’s not a one-size-fits-all answer. 'What’s healthy for one person might be inflammatory for another,' warns Talib.
And you don’t need to have an official intolerance for a food to affect you. Talib is so experienced in identifying these food-related changes in the skin of her famous clients that she can pinpoint exactly what people have been overeating simply by looking at them.
Here is Talib’s face-mapping guide to identifying the four food-related faces of ageing.
Talib’s Gluten-Face Fix
Avoid: gluten-rich foods, replace them with gluten-free fibrous grains. Try amaranth, buckwheat, brown or wild rice, chia seeds, quinoa and teff (an Ethiopian grain).
Eat: Fill up on pulses and legumes, such as lentils or beans. And don’t forget potato—sweet potatoes, for example, are packed with the vitamin A skin needs to thrive.
Supplement: Take diindolylmethane (DIM). Naturally found in cruciferous vegetables, it helps the body get rid of excess oestrogens. High amounts of gluten increase oestrogen production, which can be behind some of the fluid retention and breakouts associated with Gluten Face. DIM helps your body rebalance things. Try taking 100–300 mg daily until your symptoms start to disappear; we suggest Source Naturals DIM (£20).
Talib’s Dairy-Face Fix
Avoid: Try giving up dairy and see how your skin reacts. The best choices for milk alternatives are unsweetened nut and seed milks, such as almond, cashew, coconut or hemp. Avoid rice milk because it can be extremely sugary, while oat milk can contain very small amounts of gluten.
Eat: There are more than 20 plant-based foods alone that contain calcium. You just need to ensure your diet contains a good variety of alternative sources. Eat fish with soft bones such as anchovies. Fill up on vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, chard, kale, rocket and watercress. And snack on almonds, Brazil nuts, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds.
Supplement: Take evening primrose oil like Solgar Evening Primrose Oil, (£37). It’s a very powerful anti-inflammatory and can quickly calm the skin. Take up to 500 mg twice a day while your symptoms clear. It can also help to increase your intake of foods rich in vitamins A and E, which helps repair the mucus membranes of the gut that can be damaged by dairy.
Talib’s Wine-Face Fix
Avoid: Go alcohol free four days a week. You should never drink two days running; just one alcoholic drink causes disturbance to the gut lining.
Drink: Choose the purest alcohol you can. Try to avoid drinks that contain gluten as this creates a double whammy when it comes to attacking the gut lining. Beer is the most obvious of these, but some brands of gin, vodka and whiskey are also made with gluten-containing grains. Choose rum, tequila or quinoa or potato-based vodka.
Switch: If you’re a wine drinker opt for red, and switch to sulphite-free, organic wine; it contains more antioxidants, plus the levels of the antioxidant resveratrol are good for skin.
Talib’s Sugar-Face Fix
Avoid: the white stuff, of course, but also cakes, biscuits, sweets and processed foods, as well as refined, white versions of foods such as rice and pasta, which cause sudden rises of blood sugar in the bloodstream. And avoid artificial sweeteners! They negatively affect your gut bacteria too.
Eat: Handle your cravings. Increase your protein intake as this helps balance blood sugar levels and prevents crashes that make cravings worse. Don’t be afraid of fat, it helps stabilise blood sugar and keeps you feeling fuller for longer. Think avocados, nuts and oily fish, they will give your skin an extra glowing boost while you consume them.
Supplement: Take the mineral chromium, Solgar Chromium Picolinate (£8); the herb fenugreek, Swanson Fenugreek Seed (£5); and the Ayurvedic herb Gymnema sylvestre, Source Naturals Gymnema Sylvestre (£12), which all help to balance blood sugar levels.
Read more in Dr Nigma Talib’s new book Reverse the Signs of Ageing (£13), out now.
Do you have gluten, dairy, sugar or wine face? Let us know in the comment box below.