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Could Kombucha Fix Your Skin Issues Forever?

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Vogue Arabia, April 2020. Photo: Emily Soto

Your skincare routine is all but perfect. You’re double cleansing, balancing your face oils and retinols, and even slugging overnight. But you’re still experiencing unexplained skin issues like sudden acne breakouts, redness, irritation, or dry patches. Sabrina Hamdoune, co-founder of the Dubai-based kombucha and yogurts company, Saba Plant-Based, says the answer to your skincare woes could lie in your gut health, with unbalanced bacteria levels appearing as complexion issues in addition to other health warning signs. She explains how to keep your gut happy, and how probiotics are key to supporting good skin from the inside out.

How is gut health linked to the overall health and appearance of the skin? Could you explain the connection between the two?
Digestive health, or gut health is a foundational aspect of overall wellbeing. It impacts how nutrients are absorbed, regulation of hormones, heart and brain health and expulsion of toxins from the body among many other things. In many cases, gut problems lead to inflammation, which primarily manifests as visible skin problems like psoriasis, rosacea, and atopic dermatitis. Experts have conceptualized the interconnected nature of the two as the ‘gut-skin axis’. An imbalance in the gut microbiome, otherwise known as gut dysbiosis, can cause a range of gastrointestinal issues, as well as negatively impact skin function and stability. So, by focusing on cultivating a healthy, balanced gut, we can see improvements that extend to other areas where we might be facing health challenges.

Why is it important to maintain a healthy microbiome?
The gut microbiome is mainly made up of many types of bacteria, as well as protozoa, viruses, and fungi – all working together to maintain health and overall wellbeing, including intestinal function, metabolism, and immunity. The nature of the gut microbiome is impacted primarily by genetics, diet, and lifestyle. The gut microbiome is responsible for immuno-protective responses that allow the immune system to tolerate antigens present in its environment. Gut dysbiosis can lead to a range of conditions like inflammatory bowel disease, inflammatory arthritis, obesity, among others. Therefore, it is essential to maintain a healthy gut microbiome by supplementing the same with required bacteria for its optimal maintenance.

Sabrina Hamdoune

How can gut health be improved to prevent and treat skin conditions like eczema, or rosacea or acne?
The most common and effective way to improve gut health and in turn, skin health is by introducing more probiotics to the diet, either through probiotic-rich foods like kombucha, yogurt, kefir, kimchi, or supplements. Other ways to improve gut health include eating more foods rich in fibre, and limiting the intake of heavily processed foods and instead opting to include more fresh and whole foods into the diet.  These steps can ensure a balanced gut microbiome, strengthening the immune system, which can lead to improved skin health. Yet another avenue to investigate may be probiotic skincare, however this may not as effective as targeting the gut microbiome directly.

Are there particular foods or dietary habits that support a healthy gut microbiome and, consequently, lead to healthier skin?
Incorporating more fermented foods is the simplest way towards a healthy gut microbiome, as it is the best way to ensure that the microbiome is getting all the necessary probiotics to ensure that the gut flora is diverse and thriving. Though it is also important to make sure this is balanced with prebiotic foods. Other ways to ensure better gut health is to include more whole grains, limit the intake of overly processed foods with artificial sweeteners, and include more plant-based foods. Other lifestyle changes include managing stress, having timely meals, incorporating more exercise and movement as these are all conducive to building maintaining good gut health, and therefore have a direct impact on your skin.

 

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How does consuming probiotic products impact this overall gut health?
Saba Plant-Based kombucha, drinking yogurts, yogurt pots and kefir use 100% organic, plant-based ingredients, free from refined sugar and preservatives. Each product contains a host of naturally occurring cultures that are conducive to building and maintaining a healthy and balanced gut. Probiotics are living microorganisms that restore gut flora and prebiotics are a form of dietary fiber that supplements good gut bacteria. They are both necessary to strengthen the immune system, improve digestion and build resistance to harmful bacteria. There are several studies showcasing the power of a healthy gut and how this impacts our health across our body.

What about topical probiotic skincare?
Skincare is something that is personal and highly subjective, and individuals react to different products differently. Especially with a new realm such as probiotic skincare, with more research it may be possible to better understand how topically regulating the microbiome can help treat or mitigate the impact of inflammatory skin conditions. Gaining a better understanding of the skin microbiome can help understand what works best for it to function optimally, as it is not identical to the gut microbiome. In the long run, it is better to combine probiotic skincare with dietary changes that benefit gut health, as that can tackle many root causes. With many health issues, we need to focus on what’s going on inside first.

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