Yes, we could totally stop eating too many carbs – but not for the reason we’ve always thought! The more we learn about the body, the more we realize how complex and interconnected everything is. What is becoming more and more prevalent with scientific studies is what is called the gut-skin axis. This phrase describes how there is a direct relationship between what happens in our gut and what happens on the surface of our skin. Learning more about taking good care of our skin also means taking good care of our guts. With that in mind, we need to understand the role that prebiotics and probiotics play in gut health and healthy-looking skin.
What are prebiotics and probiotics?
Let’s start with prebiotics. What are they exactly? Prebiotics are natural fibers found in foods or made into supplements that help feed the supporting bacteria living in our gut. We know that sounds a little off-putting, but let us explain. Designed to support and improve intestinal and digestive function, prebiotics are broken down in the large intestine and converted into short chain fatty acids. From there, the fatty acid chains are then used to maintain the body’s energy and immunity.
Now let’s move on to probiotics and how they are different. Unlike prebiotics, probiotics are not fiber at all. Rather, they are living, healthy types of yeast and bacteria. Yes, in a way probiotics are “alive” – and work hard for a balanced gut too! Probiotics, also known as microorganisms, are an important part of our overall gut microbiota that support proper digestion, immune regulation, and more. Interestingly, while we often refer to our skin as the largest organ, the gut microbiome is often referred to as the “forgotten” organ. As our understanding of gut health emerges more recently and continues to expand, the role that prebiotics and probiotics play, particularly when we consider the gut-skin axis, is critical.
Benefits of prebiotics and probiotics.
We now know that together, prebiotics and probiotics make up one of the most important aspects of our overall digestive environment. What exactly are these two doing in our guts?
Prebiotics are primarily responsible for a healthy internal lining. This allows our food to properly digest, absorb and metabolize. Remember we mentioned that prebiotics act as food for our healthy gut bacteria? This relationship between prebiotics and healthy stomach flora helps prevent the growth and development of unhealthy bacteria in the stomach. This process should be a total mystery to us, but it becomes apparent fairly quickly when there is an imbalance or overgrowth of unhealthy gut bacteria. Symptoms such as gas and bloating, irregular toilet use, pain, nausea, and even an increased presence of immune system issues are the most common ways our gut communicates to us that there is a problem.
It also means that when it comes to gut health, there are clear signs our bodies are not getting the proper probiotics either. Surprisingly, one of the biggest signs – and the easiest to miss – is persistent lethargy. Studies have shown that chronic fatigue, along with high food allergies or sensitivities, are among the main clues that something is wrong with gut-ville. However, once we address this problem, we may experience higher energy, weight loss, deflation in the belly area, more regular toileting schedule, and even improved mental health.
We can see here that prebiotics and probiotics are absolutely essential for a healthy gut, and it follows that they are equally important for healthy skin. How can we get more of it into our diet?
Best sources of prebiotic and probiotic foods.
Good news! Although supplements are often an excellent source of prebiotics and probiotics, they are not the only option. A healthy, balanced diet probably already contains plenty of prebiotics and probiotics, contributing to the gut health we all crave. Let’s look at some of the most common and numerous options for getting them into our bodies.
We’re sure almost everyone is already consuming at least one source of prebiotics – so that’s a great start! Options include the base of many meals, garlic and onions; oats, apples and bananas, which make up many breakfasts, as well as flax seeds and wheat bran.
When it comes to probiotic foods, the most well-known source of foods that contain the strains of healthy bacteria that make up probiotics are most often found in fermented foods. Kombucha, kimchi, yogurt and kefir, sauerkraut, and even sourdough bread are great sources for naturally integrating probiotics into our diets.
Let’s also highlight some familiar favorites that make cameos in 100% PURE product formulas.
The highly fibrous konjac root that serves as the base for our Konjac Charcoal Sponge Cleanser is an excellent food source of prebiotics.
Natto beans – a lesser-known legume – work overtime as a probiotic because they also do double duty with our skin. They are an incredibly rich natural source of polyglutamic acid, which for those unfamiliar is a supercharged sister to hyaluronic acid. With tons of fiber, vitamins, and minerals, this skin powerhouse is such a star that we’ve formulated an entire skincare line around it in our new Watermelon + Cucumber Skin Trio.
Anyone who knows us at 100% PURE knows how obsessed we are with cocoa. And while products like our fruit pigment lipsticks work great, they’re not quite good enough to eat. Well, our favorite food (and skincare ingredient) is also a great prebiotic, so now we can enjoy this delicious treat guilt-free.
It’s also important to note that both prebiotic and probiotic supplement forms are fine and will work equally well for gut health. Keep in mind that introducing a new supplement to the body often requires a small adjustment period. However, prolonged periods of bloating, bathroom irregularities, skin irritation, and uncommon lethargy are likely signs to switch supplements for a more even fit and wait to see that beautiful skin bloom when we will finally maintain a balanced and happy gut health.