The path to beautiful skin just might be through your stomach.
"When the body is out of balance, one of the first places it reveals itself is the skin," says Dr. Ruthie Harper, a board-certified internist in Austin, Texas, who specializes in nutritional medicine. "If you're not getting the right nutrients, skin gets cheated out of what it needs for optimal health and beauty."
Learn to make the most of your body's skin-stomach connection with these 10 food fixes that give you a healthy, glowing complexion while warding off a host of skin conditions.
Power Up With Probiotics
When the stomach's natural flora gets out of whack because of stress, infection, or a course of antibiotics, you may experience digestive ills and skin problems such as acne, psoriasis, and eczema, as well as dullness and wrinkles.
"If your gut's bacteria balance is unfavorable, the toxic bacteria can leak through microscopic holes in the wall of your gastrointestinal tract and travel throughout your body, including to your skin, causing inflammation that prevents the skin from functioning properly," says Dr. Frank Lipman, an integrative physician and director of Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in New York City.
The best way is to take a probiotic supplement (available at most health-food stores) or consume fermented foods such as kefir, yogurt, buttermilk, miso, kimchi, and sauerkraut.
Prebiotics are undigestible nutrients that stimulate the growth of good bacteria in your gut. To prevent problems, keep your digestive tract populated with good bacteria, which "coat the lining of your gut and help seal it so unwanted substances can no longer leak out and cause irritation," says Dr. Whitney Bowe, assistant medical director of cosmetic and laser services at Advanced Dermatology in Ossining, NY. Sources include whole grains, bananas, onions, and garlic.
Sprinkle On Super Seeds
The healthy fats known as omega-3s are like manna from heaven for dry skin. Not only are they anti-inflammatory, but they also moisturize skin so it stays soft and supple and fine lines are less noticeable.
Research shows that eating more omega-3-rich foods may even help protect against sun damage and skin cancer. Salmon, sardines, and mackerel are omega-3 powerhouses. For those who prefer not to eat fish, flaxseed and chia seeds offer a great alternative.
"Just 1 ground tablespoon of these seeds has six times the recommended daily amount of omega-3s," Dr. Harper says. Try them sprinkled on salads, blended in smoothies, and as a crunchy topping for oatmeal.