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Did you know that the enteric nervous system (ENS – the nervous system that controls the functions of the gut) has half a billion neurons – that’s five times the amount than in your spinal cord – which is why the gut is often referred to as “the second brain”? 90% of your “feel good” hormone, serotonin, and 50% of your dopamine is also located in the gut. The food you eat alters the response of your enteric nervous system, and this can have large impacts on your entire body.

Along with a balanced gut microbiome, a balanced skin microbiome is THE most important predictor for glowing, blemish-free skin – especially since after your gut, your skin is really your second biggest digestive organ. The beauty industry has convinced us that bacteria on the skin are a no-no and that the best thing to do is scrub them away with harsh, expensive cleansers and exfoliators. But in fact, you should be doing just the opposite if you’re trying to banish blemishes and get that good skin glow. The best thing you can do for your skin is to protect the beneficial bacteria on it that are an essential part of your skin’s functioning ecosystem. So what exactly promotes bacterial balance on your skin? Here’s the scoop: Minimize practices like scrubbing, shaving, and waxing that can disrupt your skin’s microbiome. Use products with safe, gentle ingredients, like food-grade edible Manuka Honey that…

If you think your face cleanser should cost big bucks and wear a long list of unidentifiable ingredients to really work, think again! The best cleanser is one that will help balance your skin microbiome – which means one that addsbeneficial bacteria, not one that scrubs away all your microbes (including the good guys). Too-harsh cleansers will leave you with a depleted skin terrain that’s more likely to pick up and harbor pathogenic and acne-causing bacteria – just what you want to avoid! At Gutbliss, we’ve found that one of the best facial cleansers actually has just one ingredient and can be found in your kitchen: Manuka honey, that comes from bees that eat nectar from New Zealand’s Manuka tree. What makes Manuka honey so much better for the skin? Here’s what: It’s anti-inflammatory,anti-agingmoisturizing,and promotes a balanced skin microbiome. Here’s how to get started… Moisten your face and hands with water. Gently…

Scientists have discovered a key factor in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) prevention: reducing meat consumption. A recent study looked at the daily dietary habits of 3,882 seventy-year old adults and their liver scans. Scans showed that 34% of study subjects had NAFLD, despite many of them being a healthy weight. Those who were overweight and ate the most animal protein were 54% more likely to have NAFLD than those who consumed less meat. Calorie and vegetable consumption were similar in both diseased and healthy groups. Hepatology →Takeaway: Researchers who conducted the study point out that dietary factors can help in preventing the disease, even in those who have a genetic risk. Processed meats and red meats pose the greatest risk for developing NAFLD and reducing overall meat consumption and replacing animal protein with plant-based options is the way to go!

A new study uncovers evidence that a single course of antibiotics may irreversibly damage important beneficial gut bacteria. Using a computer model based on past studies that looked at how antibiotics affect the microbiome, scientists found that even after 1 year of taking a single antibiotic prescription, overall gut bacteria was less diverse with fewer species. This is important because gut bacterial diversity is an important marker of health and a decrease in diversity is associated with diseases like obesity, Parkinson’s disease, asthma, allergies, inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, autism, cancer, and more. These effects were most pronounced in those who had taken the antibiotics Ciprofloxacin and Clindamycin for urinary tract, skin, and respiratory infections. ISME →Takeaway: The primary author describes the microbial damage observed in the study: “If you picture the state of the microbiome as a ball resting in a valley, antibiotics can ‘kick’ the ball up and out of…

High dietary fiber intake lowers non-communicable disease (namely cancer, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes) risk, and the relationship is causal. The study included all past studies (200+ observational studies and randomized control trials) involving dietary fiber and its relationship to human health. A dietary intake of between 25 and 29 grams of fiber showed the greatest reduction in disease risk. Whole grain fiber was found to have significant disease lowering effects, while the effects of low glycemic index diets on disease risk was not significant. The Lancet →Takeaway: Based on this extensive study, there is direct causal evidence that a diet rich in fiber (between 25 and 30 grams daily) has significant effects on lowering disease risk. Increasing dietary fiber is also one of the most immediate ways to improve microbial health. Scientists who conducted the study recommend three ways to increase dietary fiber: Change food prep methods: keep and consume the…

We’ve had a lot of requests for Dr. Chutkan’s homemade facial scrub, which can be found in her bestselling book, Gutbliss (Penguin 2013). Well folks, here it is, versions for oily and dry skin. Enjoy these microbe-friendly scrubs once a week and make a larger batch for the entire body! Oily Skin Facial Scrub Ingredients 2 tablespoons raw honey1 teaspoon oatmeal½ teaspoon cornmeal½ teaspoon lemon juice Method Moisten your face and hands with water and mix all the ingredients in the palms of your hands. Gently rub the paste all over your face in a circular motion for 1 minute. The cornmeal and lemon juice are great natural exfoliants, but if you apply too much pressure or scrub too hard, you can irritate your skin. Wash off with lukewarm water and a clean wet washcloth. This facial scrub can be used once a week. Make a larger batch to use on the rest…

It can be challenging to find a good moisturizing lotion void of harmful additives. This homemade moisturizer is more needed than ever during these long winter months, full of whole ingredients, and great for everyday use! Ingredients 2 tablespoons coconut oil 1 tablespoon jojoba oil 1/2 teaspoon orange or lemon zest Method Mix all of the ingredients well in the palms of your hands or in a small bowl and apply liberally all over your body. This moisturizing lotion can be used daily. Recipe first appeared in Gutbliss (Penguin 2013)

Have you recently taken an antibiotic and are looking to heal your gut? Drink ginger tea. Ginger has a soothing effect on the digestive system and can help to reduce gas and bloating associated with taking an antibiotic. For best results, follow my recipe below. For my ten tips on how to heal your gut after taking an antibiotic, check out my book, The Microbiome Solution(Penguin 2015). SERVINGS: 2 Ingredients 1-inch piece of fresh ginger root, peeled 2 cups water Method Cut the fresh ginger root into small pieces and place in a teapot or thermal carafe (a small cooking pot will also work). Then add two cups of boiling water and let steep for twenty to thirty minutes. Strain and serve. NOTE: For a sweetener and added flavor, you can add a lemon wedge and 1 teaspoon of Manuka honey. Recipe first appeared in The Microbiome Solution(Penguin 2015). 

There’s no better time to deep condition your hair than summertime! Use this edible deep conditioning hair mask once a month or more often as needed. Ingredients 2 tablespoons coconut oil 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 ripe avocado Method In a small bowl, combine all of the ingredients and mix well to form a paste. Apply the paste to wet hair, working it through from the roots to the ends. Wrap hair in a warm towel or plastic wrap and leave the paste in for 30 minutes. Rinse well with lukewarm water. Do not shampoo or condition the hair afterward. Use once a month. Recipe first appeared in Gutbliss (Penguin 2013).