If Your Gut Could Speak… And Other Health Stuff

by Olivia Cox October 18
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Gut. Health. Probably not the sexiest two words I’ve ever uttered, but undoubtably very important. And as someone recently converted to the whole gluten-free thang, I’ve been getting increasingly interested in the link between my gut and more outward-facing things like my skin, hair, mood and breath (sorry). Some of these are more obvious than others – I think breath probably speaks for itself. But what I’m really interested in is how my gut might be affecting my skin and my emotional wellbeing.

I recently met with Dr. Jack and ended up picking his (very amazing) brains about this very subject. Dr. Jack is one of London’s top aesthetic doctors, practising out of Harley Street and – soon – he’ll launch a residency at Neville in Belgravia. Dr. Jack’s knowledge about skincare is mind-boggling, but what immediately struck me was the extent to which he recognises the link between skin and health. Beauty editors have been lecturing us about beauty from the inside out with catchy headlines and cool flat-lays of brightly coloured supplements for aaaggggeess, but I for one had largely tuned it out in favour of an almost-entirely topical approach. I’m quite convinced there’ll be a day when suddenly I start nailing this whole adulting thing and I’ll have things like matching socks and bulbs in all my lamps, but ’til then, remembering to regularly take supplements hasn’t exactly happened.

But then Dr. Jack happened. I sat across him in his study and briefly filled him in on why I was there: spots. Specifically, unusual spots – for me, at least. Because although I am prone to the occasional absolute whopper, I have rarely suffered from multiple, smaller spots or even large patches of acne. I began reeling off a list of things I thought it could be, including a slightly pretentious suggestion that it was somehow linked to seeing a new boy who didn’t have the silk pillow slips I usually favour. Dr. Jack asked me about my digestion. Initially slightly nervous about broaching the subject of my IBS-like reaction to gluten, I began describing what happens (don’t worry, I won’t repeat here. Use your imagination. If you really want..). “Good news,” Dr. Jack told me: “your flare-up is probably linked to your gut”.

Having solved that minor crisis and established that I did not, infact, have late onset adult-ne (adult acne. Obv), Dr. Jack suggested a slightly less intense facial (one of his specialties is a Theraclear Acne Treatment, which uses an advanced vacuum and filtered IPL), and set about performing the Egyptian Facial on me.

The Egyptian Facial is a three-step situ: gentle peel using Dr. Jack’s own products, dermaplaning (aka facial shaving, slash the best exfoliation you’ll ever have), then a vitamin serum. The reason why it’s called the Egyptian Facial is because it’s based on what we know about how they did things back in the day. It’s said that Cleopatra maintained her even complexion by regular milk and fruit-acid peels combined with face shaving. The ancient technique has been fine-tuned by Dr. Jack and produces a smooth complexion that’s glowing with health.

But back to the gut. A couple of days after seeing Dr. Jack I was at a skincare event with Neutrogena and facialist Nuz Shugga, who told me about her double-pronged attack to good skin. Turns out, she packs her a-list clients off with a shopping list of probiotics as well as a plumped, radiant complexion. What she said echoed what Dr. Jack had told me, so I did some research and discovered it is proven that the bacteria in your gut helps produce most of the chemicals in your nervous system. This means it is responsible for creating serotonin (the chemical which creates the happiness emotion). There’s other benefits too – digestive bacteria help break down food so you can actually get the goodness out, and a balanced gut means the body doesn’t have to work so hard which can help with that post-meal fatigue.

I visited a couple of nutrition brands to find out more, and discovered that one of my favourite athelsiure brand Zaggora (their running jacket got me through marathon training in 2012 so I have a soft spot for them) has moved into sports nutrition. I tried a bunch of their smoothies, and was blown away by not only the amazing taste, but also how much was packed into just one scoop. The vanilla protein has protein (obv), fibre, vitamins, and…. probiotics.

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Then, I found an eatery in London that specialises in gut health: High Mood Food. I’m pretty sure this is going to be the new foodie trend.

High Mood Food is on Duke Street, just down from Selfridges and is a haven for healthy foodies. Their restaurant is ‘pro choice’, meaning they cater for however you choose to ear, be it vegan, paleo, high-protein, or some unique combination. They believe that our gut affects mood, brain function and energy levels, making fermented food an essential part of a healthy, balanced diet.

I popped in for lunch and enjoyed a beautiful colourful and next level tasty plate from the salad bar – thinks like sweet potato vedges, turmeric cawliflower, flaked salmon.. plus almond milk matcha green tea. The other milk they do is hemp, which I haven’t tried yet. Have you? What’s it like? Let me know in the comments below, nothing beats a friendly recommendation :).

After lunch I browsed the shop area toward the back, which is sort of like a mini WholeFoods, except carefully curated to offer only what is on-brand with High Mood Food’s beliefs. What was most exciting, though, was the skincare, and in particular a German brand called ibotics, which essentially reverses the trend for eating well for good skin, to topically applying probiotics for good inner health. Note: I actually can’t believe we never thought of this before – I mean, skin is our biggest organ, after-all.

S H O P    T O P I C A L    P R O B I O T I C S


Olivia x


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