The other microbiome you need to know about

The Beauty Chef - The other microbiome you need to know about

 

The importance of cultivating a healthy gut microbiome for immunity, skin health, brain health and longevity is an established fact with studies repeatedly showing that the good bugs in our gut may deliver many health benefits.

While research is ongoing, there is also growing evidence to suggest that your other microbiome – that is, the ecosystem on the surface of your skin – also plays an important role in your inner and outer health. Thinking about it might make you squirm, but it’s estimated that every square centimetre of your skin is home to at least a million bacteria along with an array of fungi, viruses and even mites. (Yes, mites!)

 

Along with your gut microbes, your skin bacteria affects your immunity and skin health, with your skin essentially acting as your body’s first line of defence against environmental pathogens. Your skin is also your largest organ, and the microbes on the surface of your skin are in constant communication with your gut, as well as your immune system.

Interestingly, your skin’s microbiome is about five times larger than researchers initially thought. It actually extends deep beneath the dermis to the subcutaneous fat beneath the surface of your skin, including the subcutaneous follicular surfaces of the hair follicles and sweat ducts beneath the visible surface of your skin. This diverse ecosystem helps you to ward off infections and environmental pathogens, boosts your immunity, supports wound healing and helps to keep your skin hydrated.


In a 2014 study titled, “Bacteria on the skin: Our invisible companions influence how quickly wounds heal,” it was suggested that the presence of certain bacteria on the surface of an individual’s skin could influence how quickly wounds heal. The researchers concluded that while much of the current research on chronic wounds focuses on improving antibiotic dressings to prevent infection, a better understanding of skin bacteria could lead to new treatments that protect against harmful bacteria, without also eliminating the bacterial communities that may play a beneficial role.

 

Research has found that when the skin’s barrier is broken, increased exposure to certain toxin-producing bacteria can cause problems such as inflammation and infection. It makes sense then that your skin’s delicate microbiome can be damaged or disrupted by overzealous exfoliation, topical steroids, antibacterial soaps, sanitisers and cleansers. And the consequences of upsetting your outer ecosystem can include breakouts, eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, dandruff, dehydrated skin and heightened sensitivity.

 

The good news is, your skin’s unique microbial community is surprisingly stable and there are a few things you can do to protect your skin’s hard-working microbiome…

Exercise.

Working up a sweat a few times a week is not only good for our physical health, but one study suggests that the ammonia-eating bacteria (that are a major component of sweat) may also improve skin health.

Get your hands dirty.

Swedish research found that children of families who washed their dishes by hand instead of using a dishwasher, suffered fewer allergies – suggesting that exposing skin to the microbes on dirty plates had beneficial effects. Avoiding the overuse of harsh soaps, cleansers and exfoliants that can strip beneficial microbes from the surface of your skin will also help protect your outer microbiome.

Cultivate good gut health.

Gut imbalances have been linked to skin inflammation and other skin manifestations which is why nourishing our inner microbiome is so important for our outer microbiome as well. Eating a diet rich in lacto-fermented probiotic foods (such as yoghurt, kefir, kombucha and sauerkraut) as well as prebiotic foods (fibre-rich veg), colourful fruits and vegetables and healthy fats is a great way to support your gut health – as well as your skin health.

 

How do you support your skin’s microbiome?

5 ways to cultivate inner beauty

The Beauty Chef - 5 ways to cultivate inner beauty


By Courtenay Turner

 

When it comes to ‘beauty’ – our mind often turns to our physical selves and the changes we make on a surface level. But as we know, true beauty comes from within and often, it’s the changes we make on the inside that are the most transformative.

Cultivating a sense of inner beauty is a delicate dance as we move between turning inwards to embrace practices of self-care, while also turning our gaze outwards to focus on the people around us, doing our best to show up and support the ones we love. Here are five inspiring ways to cultivate inner beauty – with balance and grace…

 

Practise kindness.

It may sound simple, but kindness is a seriously underrated trait – one which we believe to be an incredibly important characteristic to cultivate. Kindness encapsulates acts of compassion and selflessness, so it’s no surprise that research links kindness to feelings of happiness and contentment – for both the giver and the receiver. It’s been suggested by writers and academics that we are living in the age of anger, so replacing anger with kindness (even when we feel it may be undeserved) is a surefire way to make you – and the world around you – a kinder, happier place.

 

Look up.

We have a lot to thank technology for – ease of communication with friends and family, the ability to let our loved ones know of our whereabouts, as well the convenience of an all-in-one device that doubles as a camera and an encyclopedia. But, nonetheless, most of us know that too much phone time – namely time spent on social media – may be harming our mental health. A recent study published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology found that people who limited their social media use to just 30 minutes a day reported reductions in feelings of depression and loneliness and felt significantly better after the three-week trial period. The solution? Look up. By looking up and out at the world around you, you allow your brain to play, daydream and improvise, thereby encouraging it to enter into its natural cognitive state.

 

Eat well.

When you eat well and nourish your body with nutrient-dense wholefoods, you’re likely to sleep better, experience better moods and see increases in energy. All of these factors play a role in making us healthier, happier humans. And as we all know, when we’re feeling content and vibrant, this also benefits our loved ones, friends and colleagues too! According to the Cleveland Clinic, “Certain foods are key components in the manufacture of powerful chemicals in the brain. These chemicals, called neurotransmitters, can boost mood, improve sleep, increase pain tolerance and enhance performance”. Check out our favourite pantry essentials for more healthy eating inspiration.

 

Move mindfully.

Hate running? Don’t do it. Can’t stand pilates? Find an alternative. By finding forms of movement that we love and look forward to, we’re far more likely to feel energised and nourished when we exercise. Regular movement plays an important role in our mental and physical wellbeing, and when we’re doing it in a way that works for us, we shouldn’t feel bored or depleted. According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise promotes better sleep, improves mood and boosts energy, so grab your friends and get moving! (Just be careful not to overdo it).

 

Be grateful.

Gratitude is a simple practice, but it doesn’t always come naturally to us. Sometimes, in order to actually feel grateful, we need to take a more disciplined approach to this lofty concept. What’s more, approaching gratitude in a more calculated way can often filter down into our everyday lives. Why not try taking five minutes every day at 8am to pause and ponder the things in your life that bring you joy? Then, write them down in a gratitude journal or in the notes section of your phone. This provides a tangible reference to reflect on in times of stress. Gratitude also helps us to counteract 21st-century syndromes like “FOMO” – by training ourselves to deeply appreciate what we have, we focus far less on what we believe to be lacking. Perhaps more than any other practice, gratitude helps to cultivate inner beauty by making us aware of all the abundance and joy in our lives.

 

How do you cultivate inner beauty? We’d love to know your favourite practices…

Dessert tasting platter

The Beauty Chef - Dessert tasting platter

 

SERVES 4–6

This is my absolute favourite way to have dessert and share it with family and friends. It looks so beautiful, is healthy, and caters to varying tastes and dietary requirements. It is also a wonderful way to experiment with the very different combinations you can create.

INGREDIENTS

  • 200g good-quality dark chocolate, cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 150g strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 125g blueberries
  • 1 small handful Brazil nuts
  • 1 small handful hazelnuts
  • 1 small handful pecans
  • 2 tablespoons desiccated (shredded) coconut
  • 1 small handful basil leaves, torn
  • 1 small handful fresh edible rose petals*
  • 1 tablespoon edible dried lavender
  • 1 long red chilli, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

METHOD

  1. Arrange the ingredients on a serving platter or chopping board and share with friends.
  2. This is a wonderful way to experiment with the very different combinations you can enjoy with dark chocolate: chocolate and lavender, chocolate with basil and blueberries, chocolate and sea salt.

*Pesticide-free

 

For more recipe inspiration, visit The Digest.

Blueberry & pear GLOW smoothie

The Beauty Chef - Blueberry & pear GLOW smoothie

 

SERVES 1

Antioxidant-rich blueberries and pear combine in this delicious gut-nourishing smoothie. Enjoy for brekkie or as an afternoon snack.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup (125mL) coconut water
  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1 small pear, quartered and cored
  • 1/4 cup (60mL) coconut milk kefir
  • 3 ice cubes
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter
  • 1 tablespoon ground yellow linseeds
  • 1 teaspoon chia seeds
  • 1 teaspoon GLOW Inner Beauty Powder™
  • Fresh blueberries, to serve (optional)

METHOD

  1. Place all of the ingredients into a high-speed blender and blitz until smooth.
  2. Top with fresh blueberries, if desired.

 

Looking for more recipe inspo? Visit The Digest to view our latest recipes.