Carla’s guide to gut health, radiant skin and wellbeing


It doesn’t sound very glamorous, but beautiful, glowing skin and good health do begin in your gut. So before you think about buying the latest miracle cream or speed dialing your facialist, why not invest your time and money into improving your digestive health?

Looking after your gut will allow you to simplify your skincare routine, help you achieve a smooth, balanced and glowing complexion – and make you feel better too.

The gut health connection.

Let’s create an analogy so this is all a little easier to digest (pardon the pun). If you think about a garden, our gut is like the soil. The soil needs the right nutrient levels and bacterial balance to support the plants and for them to be strong, their leaves robust and their flowers to blossom. For our skin to be strong, lustrous and radiant, we also need the right bacterial and nutrient balance in our gut.

The gut is where 70% of your immune system lies, where we metabolise hormones, where we make nutrients and neurotransmitters, create detoxifying enzymes and neutralise pathogens. All of these processes can profoundly affect us if not in balance or working properly.

Think of how hormones when out of balance can wreak havoc on your complexion and overall health and wellbeing. If we’re not getting enough nutrients or digesting our food properly due to poor gut health, our skin won’t receive the nutrition it needs to support it. This affects skin elasticity and collagen production and will manifest in dull, lacklustre skin with poor tone. Similarly, if we are not detoxifying properly, the skin – as the body’s largest elimination organ – will suffer.

To achieve a healthy gut, we need to support good bacteria in our digestive system. Bacteria pretty much run the show! The gut is home to trillions of microbes that outnumber the body’s cells by 10 to 1.

We co-exist with about 500–1000 different species of bacteria. Not so glamorous, I know, but just think of those good bacteria as your skin and body’s very best helpers. More and more studies are showing how the nature of that bacteria can affect our health, our skin, and the way we feel. To look and feel our best, we aim for a predominance of good bacteria over the bad bacteria, including pathogens, (such as candida). An abundance of bad bacteria can contribute significantly to skin problems, from acne, rosacea, premature ageing of the skin, lacklustre skin and poor energy levels amongst other health and beauty issues. Studies show that where there is gut inflammation, there will be skin inflammation. Studies also show that people who have a healthier gut microbiota may have a healthier fatty acid profile in their skin, meaning their skin is more moisturised, hydrated and protected.

Studies show that our gut bacteria can also influence our mood, weight, blood sugar levels and our body’s ability to fight infections.

So how do we ensure that the good bacteria is winning the tug of war?

Unfortunately, beneficial gut bacteria is not a big fan of many of the lifestyle factors that are synonymous with modern living. Stress, processed food, antibiotics, alcohol, cigarettes, sugar and pollution can all compromise good bacteria and feed the pathogenic bacteria.

Guess what? We all have our own unique bacterial gut print! So where does our bacterial pattern originate? Our bacterial pattern is mostly established in the first three weeks of life, but the good news is that if it didn’t go so well and the beneficial bacteria lost out, we can help alter this pattern with changes to lifestyle and diet.

  1. Eat wholefoods: Eating well encourages the growth of good bacteria. Try to go the low HI approach – opt for low human intervention foods. That means eating plenty of whole foods that are provided by nature, not foods that are tainted by human hands or processed in a lab.
  2. De-stress: Yoga, meditation, walking, loving and being kind to yourself all help encourage beneficial flora. They are not big fans of stress.
  3. Probiotics: The proven strains of good bacteria include Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species. You can find them in yoghurts and probiotic drinks but be careful that those products are not also full of gut-depleting sugar. Probiotic supplements can be helpful but I am also a big fan of consuming lacto-fermented foods (as found in The Beauty Chef range) to get natural viable bacteria into the belly.
  4. Lacto-fermented foods: Have you ever wondered why women from Eastern Europe and Asia have radiant skin? The answer may lie in sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi and miso. These are lacto-fermented foods. The lacto-fermentation process (different to other fermentation processes such as alcohol fermentation) creates a broad range of beneficial bacteria. The proliferation of lactobacilli in lacto-fermented vegetables, such as sauerkraut for example, predigests the cabbage making digestion easier and nutrients more available for the body to utilise. The process also creates good bacteria that helps to re-colonise the gut. Studies show that consuming lacto-fermented foods can influence both mood and acne by reducing systemic inflammation, and probiotics can help eliminate disease-promoting pathogenic bacteria in the gut.
  5. The Beauty Chef GLOW Inner Beauty Powder contains 24 lacto-fermented superfoods and prebiotics and probiotics ensuring your skin is getting good bacteria and nutrients to keep your skin’s ecosystem strong, healthy and glowing. Growing medical and scientific research correlate gut health with skin health. For example, studies show that a lack of hydrochloric acid in the gut can contribute to acne and rosacea.

Guess what increases levels of this acid? Lactic acid bacteria found in lacto-fermented foods!

Feeling a bit down about your skin? The gut is where we make neurotransmitters so the health of our gut can affect the way we feel too! This is why doctors refer to it as our second brain. So balancing our gut will help give us vitality and positivity to help us feel better about our skin and health without any special treatments.

Tips to improve gut health

  1. Eat low HI – low human intervention foods.
  2. Eat foods rich in prebiotics. Prebiotics help boost the growth of friendly bacteria. These include non-digestible food substances found in asparagus, bananas, endive, chicory, garlic, globe and jerusalem artichokes, kefir, leeks, onions as well as foods rich in soluble fibre.
  3. Eat probiotic-rich, lacto-fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kefir and yoghurt.
  4. The combination of prebiotics and probiotics helps promote a healthy gut more than either consumed alone.
  5. Favour Certified Organic foods – they’re far richer in nutrients and free of nasty chemicals that compromise gut health.
  6. If your gut is in bad repair, it may take a while for it to heal and get your own digestive enzymes working efficiently. Digestive enzymes may be helpful for a period of time.
  7. Eat smaller meals and chew food slowly so it liquefies before you swallow. Saliva contains digestive enzymes that help break down foods.
  8. Avoid drinking with your meal as it dilutes digestive enzymes.
  9. Too much acidity in the body encourages unfriendly bacteria. Reduce acidity in the body by eating more alkalising foods including your green leafy veggies and reduce your intake of acid forming foods.
  10. Try not to eat when you are angry or stressed as your body’s fight or flight response predominates at those times, meaning digestion is not a priority and is slowed.
  11. Grains provide a great source of fibre to aid detoxification but can be hard for some people to digest and contain anti-nutrients. If you consume grains, either soak them or ferment them to make them easier to digest. Doing this helps to neutralise anti-nutrients too. It may be worth avoiding them for a while in the initial stages of healing gut health.
  12. Lemon juice helps stimulate digestion. A shot of lemon juice before all meals can be a good aid to digestion.
  13. Gluten and dairy sensitivities are quite common, so these kinds of foods are probably best avoided as they contain proteins that are hard to digest. Fermented dairy such as yoghurt is ok.
  14. Animal proteins can be hard to digest so are best cooked slowly in soups and stews. Spices such as garlic, ginger, cumin, cayenne and black pepper can be added to animal proteins to aid digestion.
  15. Vegetables are best steamed or sautéed as an excess of raw vegetables can weaken digestion.
  16. Meat bone broths are high in minerals and other essential nutrients and are excellent for healing the lining of the gut.
  17. Other beneficial gut foods include chlorophyll-rich greens such as celery, alfalfa and sea vegetables as well as fibre-rich foods and green tea.
  18. Stop bad bacteria in their tracks; avoid refined foods and sugar.
  19. Coconut oil is helpful for gut health as it contains lauric acid, which is antibacterial and antifungal.
  20. Herbs that may aid digestive health include: fennel, chamomile, slippery elm, ginger, peppermint, lemon verbena, lemon balm, dandelion root, yellow dock, gentian root, slippery elm, licorice root, meadowsweet, oregano, garlic, pau d’arco, ginseng.

For more inner beauty recipes, click here.



BURO 27/4 SEPT 2017

Why beauty begins in the belly

by The Beauty Chef, Carla Oates.

Balancing gut health (aka ‘Beauty Begins in the Belly’) is one of my main tenets for health and beauty. But what does it actually mean?

When I talk about a beautiful belly, I’m not referring to a slim, trim waistline. What I’m really talking about is something far more important that relates to the state of your skin, the health of your body and your general wellbeing: the fascinating and complex ecosystem that is your gut.


Good digestive health is the key to good overall health and radiant skin. In fact, if you want naturally clear, glowing skin on the outside, you need to be healthy on the inside, starting with your gut. This is because the gut and the immune system are intricately linked — around 70 per cent of the body’s immune tissue is located in the digestive system, making it the body’s first line of defence against harmful toxins, bacteria and diseases.

When your digestive system is working well and is in balance, it’s typically home to trillions of “good” bacteria and microbes that outnumber the body’s cells by 10 to one. These help your body to process waste and nourish major organs (including the skin) by processing and manufacturing nutrients, destroying toxins, breaking down foods and fats through the production of important digestion enzymes, creating neurochemicals, eliminating pathogens and free radicals, metabolising hormones and producing nutrients such as biotin and vitamin K, which are essential for correct nervous system function and general good health. The gut makes nutrients and antioxidants that help protect and synthesise collagen, which helps keep your skin firm and bouncy.

It is an exciting time for our guts, skin and health as the medical and scientific communities are studying gut bacteria more than ever before. Studies show that a lack of hydrochloric acid in the gut contributes to skin problems including rosacea and acne. What increases levels of this acid? Lactic acid bacteria. Other studies demonstrate the link between gut inflammation and skin inflammation and a connection between a healthier fatty acid profile in the skin and good gut health. So, no matter how many creams you put on your skin, skin moisture may be determined by your gut microbiota.


Unfortunately, there are times when “bad” gut flora and bacteria — such as pathogens, fungi and yeast (like candida) — can take over, which is when health and skin problems can occur. A bad-bacteria overload not only creates an imbalance in all of the body’s systems, which causes a breakdown in its ability to process nutrients, it can also compromise the integrity of the intestines and contribute to “leaky gut”, a condition where undigested toxins and waste particles enter the bloodstream through tiny holes that appear in the lining of the gut. This, in turn, causes all sorts of health issues and lowers the strength of your immune system, making you more vulnerable to illness.

Lots of things can alter the good-bad bacteria balance in your system, most of them side-effects of modern life. The most common triggers are: medications (yes, this includes The Pill) and antibiotics (which wipe out both bad and good gut flora); an unhealthy diet (think processed, refined foods, junk food, high sugar, fat and carb consumption, too much caffeine and alcohol); stress (mental, emotional and physical); insufficient sleep (this alters cortisol levels, which can affect your mood and boost stress); pollution, smoking, pesticides and herbicides, hormones in food and toxins in personal-care products.

The good news is you can turn your gut health around with diet, probiotics and a bit of patience. While we always recommend seeing a nutritionist who can diagnose and treat any specific condition you might have, these are some start-now, at-home ways to keep your gut flora happy or get it back on track.


1. Boost your probiotic intake.

The proven strains of good bacteria are the lactobacillus and bifidobacterium species, which help repopulate the gut with good flora. Avoid yoghurts and probiotic products that are loaded with gut-compromising ingredients like refined sugar, which bad bacteria thrive on.

2. Eat lacto-fermented foods.

The lacto-fermentation process naturally creates loads of good bacteria that help strengthen and rebuild your gut. This is because lacto-fermented food contains lactobacilli, which research shows help populate the gut with good flora and help with digestion. Sauerkraut, miso, kefir, natto and kimchi are great digestion-boosting foods and can help to heal the gut.

3. Include prebiotics in your diet.

Prebiotics feed the probiotics so if you want a thriving, healthy gut you need to nourish the good bacteria with the right stuff. Essentially, prebiotics are the non-digestible food substances that provide lunch (and therefore support) for beneficial bacteria. Asparagus, bananas, garlic, onions, leeks, endive, chicory, shallots, globe and Jerusalem artichokes and sauerkraut are good sources.

4. Take a break from gluten and dairy.

If your gut is out of whack, your skin is lacklustre, prone to breakouts, eczema or other skin conditions, your head is foggy and you have bloating after eating bread or dairy, it could be worth eliminating these often gut-compromising culprits from your diet. Both contain proteins that are very hard to digest. Grains can also be problematic until the gut is healed. Soak or ferment your grains to help neutralise the anti-nutrients found in them and make them easier to digest. In fact when your gut is imbalanced, eating easily digested foods that have been soaked, cultured or slow cooked, help to balance the gut; and eating less raw food may be as important as it can be disruptive to a sensitive digestive system. Soups and stews are a great choice for this reason.

5. Drink filtered water.

While the water authorities help protect you from bacteria and algae by putting disinfectants such as ammonia and chlorine into the water, these disinfectants aren’t removed, so your body becomes the filter when you consume them. Chlorine helps to eliminate bacteria in water and also impacts the bacteria in your gut — including beneficial bacteria. So use water filters that help remove chlorine, ammonia, heavy metals, particulate matter, giardia and cryptosporidium.


A variation of this article was originally published in Wellbeing Magazine.

10 tips to refresh your skin this spring

If you are feeling a little imbalanced from the sedentary winter months, and your skin is looking dull and lacklustre, now is a great time to start to think about cleansing from within to help bring your body and complexion back into balance.

As the sun comes out and flowers unfurl, so does the body’s natural desire to push out toxins. Cleansing is especially helpful for those who are experiencing signs of toxicity: general fatigue, digestive issues, weakened immunity, mouth ulcers, frequent colds and flu, metallic taste in the mouth, strong body odour and skin imbalances including sensitivities, redness, dryness and outbreaks.

The skin is a good barometer of imbalance within the body’s systems. It is often described as the third kidney or the second liver. This is because if any of these elimination organs are overloaded and under-functioning, the skin will have to pick up the slack and try to push out more wastes and toxins through skin cells. This is a common cause underlying many skin conditions.

Assisting the body’s natural cleansing processes will help promote skin that has fewer reactions, is calmer and less inflamed.

Fortunately, spring brings an abundance of cleansing, green fare, from sulphur-rich veggies such as broccoli, leeks and cabbage, to beans and peas, and young bitter greens such as liver-loving dandelion. There’s plenty of other cleansing foods too, such as cucumbers, radishes and daikon.

CLEANSE Inner Beauty Powder is a comprehensive super-greens supplement designed to help detox and purify your body. The alkalising blend features 45 certified organic and bio-fermented fruits, vegetables, seeds, roots, algae, grasses, plant fibre, purifying herbs and digestive enzymes with enough natural probiotic power to support the cleansing of the liver and internal organs, and a super-blast of digestive enzymes to help balance gut health.

An intensive cleanse is best customised to the individual and done under the guidance of a health practitioner. However, here are 10 tips to help ease you into spring looking and feeling good.

1. Ditch the junk

Reduce your consumption and exposure to: processed and packaged foods, sugar, alcohol, white flour based products, cigarettes and cigarette smoke and chlorinated water.

2. Eat fresh

Eat a wide variety of seasonal, wholefoods – Certified Organic is best – and try to make ingredients such as sauces from scratch. The best way to do this is to prepare for the week ahead. Make fresh pestos, hummus, stews, sauces, spring veggie soup and chicken broth. Making large batches means you can freeze for convenience. Keep a cooked organic chicken and cooked quinoa in the fridge to add to salads for lunch alongside fresh nuts, hummus, carrot sticks and celery sticks.

3. Love your liver

Assist the liver’s detoxification process to ensure that toxins from chemicals, hormones, pathogens and allergenic food substances (such as salicylate, histamines, amines, sulphites and glutamates) are neutralised, mopped up and eliminated from the body. You can do this by eating a nutrient-dense, whole food diet. Foods that are especially helpful in supporting the liver include broccoli, beetroot, fennel, bitter greens, kale, barley grass, rosemary, St Mary’s thistle and dandelion.

4. Reduce irritating foods

Avoid common skin and gut irritants including gluten and unfermented dairy. Opt for freshly made almond or coconut milk and try eating live sprouted seed breads – they are lovely toasted with avocado, hummus and pesto.

5. Choose quality protein

Your body needs high-quality protein for amino acids that help it detoxify as well as for repair. Good sources include organic nuts and seeds, tempeh, organic eggs, fish (avoid high mercury-containing fish), organic chicken and red meat once a week if desired. If you eat red meat, opt for pasture-raised grass fed as opposed to grain fed as it is rich in anti-inflammatory fats, unlike grain fed meat.

6. Eat lacto-fermented foods

Eat lacto-fermented foods, and food rich in prebiotics and probiotics. The fermentation process provides beneficial prebiotics and probiotics that support the detoxification and elimination pathways of the body in a number of ways. Ongoing research is constantly discovering new roles and benefits of the beneficial bacteria that naturally reside in our gut. All of The Beauty Chef’s products are rich in bio-fermented goodness and brimming with good bacteria.

7. Bulk up on fibre

Fibre cleanses the bowel and helps boost digestive health and therefore skin health. Foods rich in fibre including: leafy greens, berries, chia seeds, avocados, coconuts, artichokes, peas, okra, brussel sprouts, beans (make sure you soak them to help make them more gentle on your gut), help support the body’s natural cleansing process, including helping to remove toxins so they are not reabsorbed back into the bloodstream.

8. Start with lemon

Begin your day with lemon juice squeezed into water and drink two litres of filtered water a day. Invest in a good filter to remove chlorine, ammonia, particulate matter, heavy metals, sediment and herbicides and pesticides from your water. There are many disinfectants put into our tap water to remove pathogenic bacteria and algae, however, our body becomes the filter of these disinfectants and other impurities if we don’t filter them first.

9. Detox with exercise and body brushing

Regular, moderate exercise alongside dry body brushing supports the body’s lymphatic system and detoxification process. Dry body brushing is a very effective way to improve lymphatic flow, eliminate toxins and help reduce cellulite. Brush in the morning, before you shower. The method? Use light pressure until you adjust to the bristles then move onto firmer strokes. Start with the soles of your feet, use swift upward strokes and brush from the feet, up the legs, working towards your heart. Once you’ve covered your lower body, move to your hands and work up your arms toward your heart. Next, brush your back. Lastly work on your abdomen (moving in a clockwise direction to follow the movement of the colon), chest and neck. Brush for around 2-3 minutes, until skin is rosy and slightly tingly.

10. Clean up your skincare routine

What we put onto our skin can find its way into our body and our liver which is why it is important to lighten the toxic load with clean skincare and personal care products. Products that have a Certified Organic logo are the kindest choice for your body.

Note: The signs of toxicity listed above may be signs of other medical problems. However often they are the body’s signal to you that it needs some cleansing from the inside out. For those with serious medical issues, a cleanse is always best done under the guidance of your health practitioner.