Getting enough fiber is important for your health.
We all know fibre improves gut health, contributing to better digestion. But did you know that fibre can benefit your skin as well? Your skin is one of the many parts of your body that are linked to your gut, so a happy gut leads to happy-looking skin. Here, we explain everything you need to know about how dietary fibre can improve your skin.
What is fibre?
Dietary fibre is a carbohydrate-based nutrient found in plant foods. During digestion, it can’t be broken down by your body’s enzymes, and instead supports the gut and aids the digestive process. The exact way this happens depends on the kind of fibre you eat:
- Soluble fibre dissolves in water. It acts like food for your gut microbiota, which are friendly microorganisms that keep your gut healthy.
- Insoluble fibre absorbs water. It keeps things running smoothly through the gut.
These activities can help manage or prevent digestive issues, such as diarrhoea, constipation, ulcerative colitis, IBS, haemorrhoids, and more. Because of the gut’s relation to several other systems of the body, fibre also plays a role in helping gut-related issues affecting the heart, immune system, hair, skin, nails, and more.
How are the gut and skin related?
There are now plenty of studies confirming that there’s a link between the gut and skin, a connection that’s referred to as the “gut-skin axis.” That’s why many people with skin issues also have digestive problems, and vice versa. People with rosacea are 10 times more likely to have small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), and treating SIBO in rosacea patients has resulted in almost complete elimination of the skin disorder. 15-30% of people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) also have skin conditions. Plus, many people with celiac disease get a rash called dermatitis herpetiformis. We must treat the skin from within!!
The gut-skin axis is also responsible for our diet impacting the appearance of our skin. That’s why we sometimes break out when we eat fatty food, red meat, or dairy. If you've followed me for a while, you'll know that good skin begins within. You can read more about it here and here.
How does fibre benefit your skin?
It’s simple: Because of the gut-skin axis, fibre can benefit your skin by benefiting your gut. Keeping gut microbiota healthy and well-fed, as well as improving movement in the intestines, ensures that toxins and waste from the food we eat exits our bodies efficiently. That way, they don’t stick around to make us break out or prevent our skin from a healthy glow.
How can you get more fibre in your diet to help your skin?
Most people aren’t getting enough fibre. It’s recommended that women aim for 25 grams daily and men 38 grams.
Here are some ways to get the daily recommended amount of dietary fibre in order to improve the appearance of your skin:
1. Eat whole food carb options. Choosing whole foods ensures you get carbs that have fibre. Select a variety of beans, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
2. Eating vegetables before a meal can increase your fibre consumption. Non-starchy vegetables are a low calorie, high fibre choice.
3. Choose whole grains over refined grains. Whole grains have the germ and bran intact, making them more nutritious than refined grains. Try buckwheat, millet, quinoa, amaranth.
4.Take a fibre supplement. A few types of supplements have research to back them up:
- Guar fiber: As a supplement, guar fiber may improve fullness and lower your overall calorie intake. It’s also used in processed foods to improve texture - Psyllium: This is the key ingredient in Metamucil, a popular fiber supplement used for constipation. In one study, psyllium was also shown to decrease hunger between meals.
- β-glucans: This type of fiber is found in oats and barley. It’s fermented in the gut and acts as a prebiotic to support the healthy microorganisms that live there
5. Eat 6 servings of fruits or vegetables a day. Eating fruits and vegetables in whole form, rather than juice, ensures that you get more fibre and less sugar. A kiwi fruit eaten with skin and all is an excellent way to increase fibre and improve any constipation.
6. incorporate legumes such as lentils, beans, or peas into your diet. There are several ways to increase legume consumption:
- Use hummus and other bean dips.
- Add mashed or whole beans to ground beef dishes.
- Top salads with cooked beans or lentils.
7. Use concentrated sources of fibre like flaxseed, chia. Chia seeds deliver insoluble fibre, which promotes normal digestion and may lower your risk of diabetes.
8. Snack on nuts and seeds. Seeds and nuts provide protein, healthy fats, and fibre. They’re ideal for snacking or adding to recipes.
An important note: Your body may need to adjust to the increased fibre intake. If you’re using a supplement to increase your fibre, gradually increase how much fibre you take. You’ll also want to drink more water. For every 10 grams of fibre you eat, drink about 2 cups of water to help it absorb correctly. And, with drinking water being a foundation to good skin health; it's just an added bonus!