Can eating fermented foods really help to improve your skin?
For some, discussing fermented foods may seem off topic in a skincare blog but I am passionate about a holistic approach when it comes to skincare.
At Flora Maia we use the finest pure botanical ingredients in our beautiful skincare products. They are all carefully chosen for the benefits they provide for healthy, glowing skin. However, I am a firm believer that topical application is only part of the equation when it comes to optimum skin health.
I think everybody will agree that a healthy lifestyle will always reflect in the way you look and feel. Eating a diverse range of fresh foods, drinking enough water, regular exercise, adequate sleep, sun protection and reducing stress, are all key to feeling and looking your best.
Sometimes it can be tough to stick to a healthy way of living and we shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves when we do waiver. I will be the first to admit I like my chocolate, ice-cream, pizza and occasional alcoholic beverage (this really could be a much longer list!).
We all have our lazy days when we just couldn’t be bothered to do much at all. It’s when an unhealthy lifestyle becomes the ‘norm’ that it starts to impact on us physically and mentally. It’s all about balance.
You are what you eat
No matter how great your skincare regime is, if you neglect to take care of yourself it will reflect in the way your skin looks and feels. The most important being what we take internally:
- Eating lots of fresh high fibre, vitamin and mineral rich foods. Choose organic where possible.
- Including healthy fats in our daily diet (like olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds) will keep the skin supple and elastic.
- Drinking lots of water for hydration and healthy cell function.
Our bodies are amazing at self-healing, regenerating and protecting but we need to feed our bodies the right foods in order to make it happen.
Ferment to be
To break it down even further, the foods I am so passionate about are fermented foods (probiotics) because of their importance to good gut health .
Given my cultural (no pun intended) background, I grew up eating fermented foods. Yogurts, cultured milk and sauerkraut were staples in my everyday diet. It wasn’t until I married and moved out of home that I ate less and less of these amazing foods. Years later, when searching for answers to my intestinal issues I was ‘re-introduced’ to these incredible foods and their health giving benefits. I incorporated probiotic foods into my diet and felt and saw amazing results: bloating gone, skin clearer, sleeping better, happier mood, more energy.
I started making my own probiotic rich yogurts, then kefir, kombucha and sauerkraut (just like my mother use to). Now not a day goes by that I am not eating these foods. Breakfast smoothies with kefir, lunch and dinner with a little sauerkraut and some kombucha in between.
Fermented foods have been consumed for centuries. These foods probably came about by accident. Our ancestors didn’t have refrigeration and milk was stored at room temperature. The digestive juices and enzymes (naturally present in the milk producing animals) created a bacteria and yeast rich environment necessary to ferment their milk and produce this tasty and nutrient packed superfood. Vegetables like cabbage, collards and members of the cruciferous family were preserved in brine. This provided the ideal environment for beneficial bacteria to thrive; preserving and enhancing its nutritional value and enabling it to be stored for long periods of time.
With the invention of refrigeration, sadly we saw a decline in the consumption of many of these beneficial foods. People had forgotten the importance of consuming these foods to maintain a healthy inner ecosystem. In more recent times, this traditional way of eating has made a resurgence and we are now understanding the connection between good gut microflora and the way we look and feel.
Some interesting facts and health-giving benefits of probiotics:
- Microflora in our body outnumber our human cells by 10 to 1!
- Getting the balance of good and bad bacteria is key to good overall health (both physical and psychological)
- Fermented foods are high in vitamin K2 (menaquinone), thought to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and some cancers.
- Good bacteria in our gut boosts immunity, helping to protect against viruses and control the proliferation of harmful bacteria.
- Fermented foods help reduce inflammation in our bodies (inflammation accelerates ageing and increases risk of disease)
- Often people who are lactose intolerant can consume fermented (cow, goat, sheep’s etc) milk because the bacteria convert the lactose (sugar) to lactic acid during the fermentation process.
- Fermented foods are packed with enzymes needed for optimal digestion and enhance the absorption of nutrients in our foods by making them more bio-available. That’s more vitamins and minerals (necessary for collagen and elastin production) to our skin and other organs!
- Fermented foods are great detoxifiers, helping our bodies to remove toxins through colonic elimination (hello beautiful, blemish free skin!).
- Fermentation may actually increase the amount of vitamins (antioxidants) in foods. For example, higher levels of folic acid in kefir than milk; higher levels of vitamin B in sauerkraut and kimchi than raw cabbage.
- Kefir comes from the Turkish word ‘ keif’ describing a state of ‘feeling good’, and we all know if we feel good we look good.
Start off slow
If you are new to fermented foods may I suggest starting slowly and gradually increase amounts over time. Over-consumption of fermented foods can actually have an adverse effect. Listen to your body…it will tell you if you are having too much too soon.
Over time you will see and feel the positive changes to your body and like me you will not want to go without.
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” – Hippocrates
Inspired by the Beauty and Science of Nature,
Vesna @ Flora Maia