It’s time that fibre got a rebrand. Gone are the days of eating a bowl of bran flakes in the hope that it would help our digestion and ‘keep us regular’.
Often referred to as the gut-skin axis, it’s now understood that the health of our digestive tract, specifically our gut microbiome, plays an important role in skin health too.
Does fibre hold the key to a youthful complexion?
by Georgie Wolfinden
A lack of good quality fibre is bad news for our microbiome, affecting not just our gut but our overall health and skin. As we learn more about the gut-skin connection, we know that fibre can be used as fuel to enhance our complexion.
The constant communication taking place via the gut-skin axis, means that poor gut health can result in dry, dull skin as well as inflammation, linked to conditions such as rosacea, eczema, and acne.
We are aware of the numerous benefits of a fibre-rich diet, but fibre has been hailed as the ‘forgotten nutrient’ of our time, with 9 out of 10 people in the UK not even reaching half of the daily recommended amount. The more research is conducted, the more important this message becomes, and getting enough fibre during our lifetime is linked to lowering the risk of premature death, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and anxiety disorders.
Eating fibre also increases our ability to absorb essential nutrients, such as vitamin C, lutein, and lycopene, which are involved in the production of collagen and antioxidants, and are known to reduce signs of aging linked to oxidative stress. It also plays a key role in maintaining regular bowel movements, as insoluble fibre helps our intestines absorb water and soften our stools to support more regular bowel movements. This helps excrete toxins and unwanted waste from your body to help support glowing skin.
A great way to get an added dose of fibre and help us reach the RDA of 30g of prebiotic fibre, is through polyphenols.
These are beneficial plant chemicals that help reduce inflammation and can be found in berries, dark-coloured fruit & veg, like aubergines and mushrooms, and in certain supplements, such as Indi Mind.
Good quality dark chocolate made using whole cocoa solids is also rich in fibre and flavonols, so it’s also worth investing in chocolate as a treat.
We can also enhance our regular dietary intake with a good quality, fibre-rich supplement powder, like Indi Body.
Containing beta-glucans found in the cell walls of bacteria, fungi, and plants such as oats and barley, it provides a rich source of soluble fibre. Mix it with your favourite plant-based milk or water for a delicious drink, which delivers a variety of fibre sources, along with adequate fluid to help improve your fibre intake transition.
When it comes to the types of fibre-rich foods we should be consuming, one of the most important is prebiotic fibre. This soluble plant fibre is found in fresh fruit and vegetables, which ferment in the gut and feed our microbiota.
However, it’s not enough to simply meet the suggested daily portion of fibre, and to really cash in on the skin-enhancing benefits, we need to ensure that we include a variety of fibre-rich foods in our diet to feed our gut in different ways.
Preparing the same meals every day is not likely to help us achieve the ideal number of 30 diverse plants per week. The key to variety is eating meals that offer different combinations of nutrients, so ditch repetitive meal plans and get creative with dried spices, seeds, nuts, whole grains, and lots of seasonal vegetables.
Another benefit of a fibre-rich, mostly plant-based diet, is the ability to enhance our life longevity, to go with younger-looking skin. ‘Blue Zones’ identify populations throughout the world where they live the longest, healthiest lives and in these areas, as much as 95% of their food comes from vegetables, fruits, grains, and legumes. Dr. Federica highlights that “Eating a combination of these foods every day helps support our body’s immune and anti-inflammatory functions, helping to provide a youthful glow to your skin”.
It’s also worth considering the effects of probiotics on the gut-skin axis, with new research highlighting the use of probiotics to help support skin conditions and encourage a youthful, clear complexion.
“There are a number of ways in which probiotics could be useful, with a major factor being the role they play in supporting the management of inflammation”, explains Nicola Moore, a registered nutritionist, with a forward-thinking approach to gut health.
“In addition, probiotics help to keep the barrier wall that lines our gut strong and intact. This in itself is important for preventing skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis, and eczema.” She is now working closely alongside the probiotic supplement, KÄLLA, whose powders have been crafted by world-leading bioengineers, designed to address our unique needs and target the gut in different ways.
However, when it comes to improving our gut health, we often turn to probiotics as the solution, but these alone are not helpful.
Nutritionist Dr. Federica Amati explains,“We all know that gut health is key to our overall health, and there are a myriad of probiotics on the market aimed at improving this. To get the most benefit from these helpful bacteria though, we need prebiotic fibre as food for them to survive in our gut, and release beneficial postbiotic chemicals”.
When it comes to monitoring your gut health, it’s easier than ever to learn about your personal microbiome composition.
Thanks to a team of world-renowned scientists at ZOE (whose research focuses on our unique gut response), you can easily and accurately analyse your gut health using their Blue Poop Challenge. With a simple tweak to your Indi shake, you can use ZOE’s freely available tool, based on world-leading research, to learn more about your microbiome status and how to improve it. Mix together 1 x Scoop of Indi Body powder, 200ml of plant-based milk, and 1 tsp of Blue Gel Food Colouring. Wait until you see blue in your loo and record your result at joinzoe.com/bluepoop (link below).
So, is fibre really a fast-track to a youthful complexion?
In reality, like so many things, when it comes to achieving optimum skin health, it’s a balancing act. One of the best things you can do is tune into your personal reaction to different foods, so you can make informed decisions about your diet.
It’s vital that we consume both soluble and insoluble fibre to nourish our gut microbes and to keep our digestive system moving. It’s also key that we learn exactly which fibre-rich foods have a positive impact on our body, so we can eat in a way that enhances our health efficiently and effectively.
When all of these elements come together, we can achieve a happy healthy gut, freeing the body from toxins that can dull the skin and contribute to inflammation and skin flare-ups.
Now really is the time for the ‘forgotten fibre’ to be in the spotlight!