Back in the day, I had the worst acne along with anxiety so severe I thought I’d go nuts. Let me tell you what’s not fun: having a face full of painful, deep, cystic acne along with a constant feeling of dread and terror. I tried everything for both, topical creams, prescriptions, expensive “cures” and even Accutane for my acne, meditating and Xanax and Klonopin for my anxiety. Nothing worked for either of them. Luckily, I’ve never had allergies but it’s likely that I would have developed them had I not drastically changed my diet.
By now you might be wondering what these three things have in common. What can you do to improve all three of these issues? Start eating fermented food. Stop eating unhealthy, inflammatory foods that are damaging to the gut.
Growing up, I subsisted on a diet of white bread, white sugar and margarine. Sugar bread was a common meal in my home, along with Wonderbread topped with margarine. When I became a teenager, I ate typical teenage food. I’d scrounge for pennies to buy Taco Bell, eat a lot of pasta because it was cheap and chicken tenders from the school cafeteria. Until I decided to go vegetarian at sixteen-years-old, then I began eating a ton of grains and legumes – soy, whole wheat everything, black beans, lentils, etc. My anxiety grew even worse when I made the switch.
My body was starving for nutrients and severely inflamed from the massive amount of unhealthy carbohydrates I was consuming. My gut was a wreck. The typical American diet kills beneficial bacteria in the gut and provides little to no healthy bacteria to replace it. Our ancestors and traditional cultures around the world still consume these nutritional powerhouses, whether from the soil their food is grown in or by fermenting food, which is a preservation technique.
Fermenting food doesn’t just allow the food to last longer, it encourages the growth of beneficial bacteria. When we eat this beneficial bacteria, our digestive tract receives a nutritional powerhouse full of not just probiotics, but enzymes, vitamins and minerals. You can check out the fermented recipes in my eBook and you can even buy them in grocery stores. I also take a probiotic daily and recommend this brand. Popular fermented foods include:
A lack of benficial gut flora has been linked to autism, digestive disorders, anxiety and depression, acne and other skin issues, allergies and asthma. Researchers are just beginning to understand the very powerful gut-brain connection. This connection indicates that whatever is happening in the gut has a direct influence on what is happening in the mind. The bacteria in our gut has a powerful influence over our emotional well being.
Fermented foods have even been shown to improve, if not eliminate allergies in certain individuals. Other studies have demonstrated that ferments contain anti-allergy compounds that reduce the development of allergies. One of the best ways to ward off allergies is a strong gut and a robust immune system, fermented foods boost gut health and immune function.
There is also what is referred to as the gut-brain-skin axis.
The lines of communication, as mediated by gut microbes, may be direct and indirect – ultimately influencing the degree of acne by a systemic effect on inflammation, oxidative stress, glycemic control, tissue lipid levels, pathogenic bacteria, as well as levels of neuropeptides and mood-regulating neurotransmitters. It was not the contention of Stokes and Pillsbury, nor is it ours, that acne is a disease of the gastrointestinal tract. Yet, there appears to be more than enough supportive evidence to suggest that gut microbes, and the integrity of the gastrointestinal tract itself, are contributing factors in the acne process. Source
Acne is often a result of several underlying, internal issues; inflammation, bacterial overgrowth, lack of beneficial flora, oxidized fat consumption and many others. While fermented foods alone are unlikely to cure acne, fermented foods can definitely help improve acne. The best diet for acne includes ferments, organic vegetables, low sugar and low sugar fruits like berries, wild seafood, pastured meat and eggs as well as heathy fats, like coconut oil, ghee, avocados, olive oil, etc.
Beneficial gut flora, or lack thereof, has been linked to a multitude of heath issues and diseases. Our microbiome is incredibly important when it comes to protecting and preserving our health and happiness because not only does it have a profound effect on our physical health, but our mental health as well.