Over the past year, gut health has become increasingly prevalent when we talk about general wellness. Our gut has the capacity to control almost everything related to the body. This means our mental health, physical condition, and skin are all somehow connected to this complex colony located in the gut which contains trillions of strains of bacteria and microbes. Also known as the gastrointestinal or digestive tract, this system consists of the mouth, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, liver, gallbladder, small intestine, colon, and rectum. On a scientific level, the gut is home to a major microbiome which ensures the self-regulation of the body. This is no small task, as it creates a direct link between the gut and all of the body's organs, especially the skin.

The state of the gut is highly volatile and is prone to imbalance. A gut issue can be produced by a streak of high stress or an excessive amount of an irritating ingredient like citrus. When these problems occur, you may not be able to feel them manifest, but the imbalance will surely make its self known in some capacity. More often than not, these complications will appear on our skin. If the gut is inflamed, it's likely that the skin will similarly be inflamed. If the gut has an intolerance to dairy, it's alerting you by allowing blemishes to form on your face. Once you acknowledge what gut health specialists like Carla Oates call the "gut-skin axis," you might be able to identify and permanently resolve reoccurring skin issues.

                                                                                 The Beauty Chef's Carla Oates.

Oates is the founder of The Beauty Chef, an ingestible skincare line developed with the help of microbiologists, naturopaths, and scientists that provides gut-loving supplements and elixirs. It is evident that probiotic supplements can be incredibly helpful in maintaining gut health, and therefore help improve your skin, too. Probiotics help colonize the gut with good bacteria and can also assist the body with digesting food, producing nutrients, and neutralizing toxins. "Considering your gut is involved in regulating your skin health, immune health, hormonal health, metabolic health, brain health, supporting your gut microbiome, including consuming gut-loving prebiotics, probiotics, and postbiotics can result in an array of beauty and health-related benefits," Oates says.

She explains that the main difference between prebiotics and probiotics is that "prebiotics are non-digestible plant fibers that are resistant to digestion in the stomach and intestines but are metabolized by bacteria in the colon" and "probiotics are live beneficial bacteria that are naturally found in the gut, as well as certain fermented foods and supplements."

But the process of finding the right supplement to optimize gut health can be daunting. Oates warns, "It’s important to understand that there's no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to gut health and our holistic wellbeing, and there’s certainly no ‘perfect’ probiotic profile guaranteed to work for everyone." There are many opportunities to be lead awry when navigating a market that is oversaturated with supplements that can actually be harmful. For example, Oates says, "Taking a supplement with high numbers of only one [probiotic] strain is arguably the opposite of taking care of our microbiome." Instead, she suggests that we are better off eating a balanced diet filled with "probiotic-rich fermented foods that contain many different species and strains as well as a broad-spectrum probiotic."

Oates' philosophy on gut health is embodied in her phrase "beauty begins in the belly." Proven by the microbiome movement in skincare, people are now paying more attention to how a healthy, balanced gut can impact skin from the inside out. With around 100 trillion microbes, "we are essentially more bacteria than human," Oates says, and its these bacteria, or microbiota, that effect our inner and outer wellness. While it might not be evident that your gut needs some tender loving care unless it elicits physical pain, we should always be aware of our daily habits and what we fuel our bodies with. Oates refers to the gut as a "mini-ecosystem" where "70 percent of our immune system lies," and in this day and age, it is especially important to foster immunity in every way possible. She adds, "Our gut is truly where the seeds for good health and glowing skin are sown."

Altogether, Oates advocates for the continued nourishment of the gut as a way of maintaining beautiful skin and a general sense of wellbeing. She believes that the best means of doing this is through giving your body "nutrient-dense wholefoods, prebiotics, probiotics, and postbiotics." Put simply, when our guts are happy, our skin is, too.