10 Ways To Improve Your Appearance This Summer Through Your Microbiome (and a recipe!)

When it comes to your appearance, your GI tract might actually play a bigger role than your genes, because without healthy bowels, it’s really hard to have glowing skin or a full head of hair (and this goes for both women and men!). Your digestive tract is like the soil, and your hair and skin are like the plants: if the soil isn’t healthy, the plants won’t bloom properly. The good news is that the combination of bad skin, thinning hair, and a bloated belly often has one unifying cause, and treating it often improves all three conditions.


So what’s the solution? Live inside out. Nourish your microbiome by creating the most hospitable environment for good bacteria to flourish – inside your gut and also on your skin and scalp. I believe that all disease begins in the gut, and I also believe that lasting outer beauty begins there too. Here are my top 10 recommendations for lifestyle changes that cultivate beauty from the inside out:


  • Avoid unnecessary medications that can kill off essential gut bacteria. These drugs include antibiotics, birth control pills, hormone replacement therapy, steroids, NSAIDs, and acid blocking drugs.


  • Avoid harsh chemicals in personal care and household products that can deplete essential bacteria on the skin and scalp. Check out EWG’s Skin Deep Databaseand my favorite products of 2015 for natural, microbe-friendly self care products.


  • Eat lots of high-fiber foods, with prebiotic properties, such as leafy greens, onions, garlic, leeks, and asparagus, that encourages the growth of beneficial microbial species in the gut. And avoid the SAD GAS foods (soy, artificial sweeteners, dairy, gluten, alcohol, and sugar) that bloat you and make you look puffy all over.


  • Add in “good” bacteria.Probiotics are live strains of bacteria that can be taken in a pill, powder, or liquid form. I recommend a ninety-day course of a robust probiotic containing large amounts of helpful bacteria. Although there can be some worsening of bloating initially, you should notice improvement in both your GI symptoms and your skin after about a month.


  • Don’t be too clean. Lathering your skin and hair every day strips away the essential oils and moisture that are created by your body for your specific pH (not to mention it destroys your skin microbiome). They definitely can’t be replaced with some department store version, even the super expensive kind. Most of the time we’re really not that dirty, and a quick rinse with just water will do. Get in and out of the shower in less than five minutes and use lukewarm rather than hot water to avoid drying out your skin.


  • Move! Exercise is one of the best ways to improve your internal and external appearance. Get sweaty as often as you can, ideally at least three times a week. Running, brisk walking, yoga, karate, soccer, dancing, tennis, boot camp—it’s all good. Exercise improves digestion and the rhythmic peristaltic contractions of your GI system, which help to reduce bloating. It also increases blood flow to the skin, which is how the skin gets its nutrients. Plus, it releases feel-good endorphins that give you an undeniable glow.


  • Get a showerhead filter. A charcoal filter in your showerhead can help to remove chlorine and other chemicals in water than can thin and dry out your hair and disrupt your microbiome.


  • De-stress. Studies show that stress leads to dybsiosis (imbalanced gut bacteria), which can wreak havoc on your gut and overall health, not to mention your physical appearance. Commit to spending just 10 minutes a day in complete relaxation. No distractions – just you and your breath.


  • Commit to 8 hours of sleep every night. This is a no brainer, but recent studies show that the microbiome is affected by our sleeping habits, and lack of sleep can lead to an overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria in the gut.


  • Spend time outside! While we’re still discovering what comprises a healthy microbiome, one thing we know for sure is that a healthy microbiome is one that’s rich and diverse. Spend time outside, breath in fresh air, and touch things in nature – your family pet, the dirt in your garden, or grass between your toes. Transform your home into a place that harbors a diverse array of natural microbes – open your windows whenever you can, keep indoor plants in each room, and line-dry your clothes outside when possible.


Try this microbe friendly homemade moisturizing body scrub:


Coconut Oil Exfoliating /Moisturizing Body Scrub

4 tablespoons raw honey

2 tablespoons coconut oil

1 tablespoon cornmeal


✽ Moisten your body and hands with water and mix all of the ingredients in the palms of your hands. Gently rub the paste all over your body, paying special attention to any rough patches of skin. Wash off with lukewarm water and a clean wet washcloth. This body scrub can be used daily.


Find out more about your microbiome, both inside and out, in The Microbiome Solution.


By: Dr. Robynne Chutkan