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Thanks to the close relationship between skin and gut health, fiber may be the skin’s greatest ally. Because the body doesn’t digest it, fiber ferments in the gut, which helps feed the community of microbiota that reside there.

“You know how pregnant people say they are eating for two?” asks Julie Greenberg, ND, AHG, a naturopathic doctor who specializes in integrative dermatology. “Well, you are eating for trillions.” And a diet high in fiber is the best way to keep the crowds happy.

Studies also show that fermentation of high-fiber foods generates short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). These include butyrate, propionate, and acetate, all of which help heal the skin from the inside out.

Internally, SCFAs help tighten up loose cell junctions and seal a leaky gut. Externally, they help protect the skin by making it more resistant to bacterial overgrowth. Propionate, for example, has antibacterial properties that can destroy antibiotic-resistant staph.

Greenberg recommends eating at least 35 grams of fiber a day from 30 different plants a week, from artichokes to zucchini. “The point is to build up diversity as well as quantity. More variety will cast a wider net for skin-healthy nutrients.”

(For more on fiber, see “Fiber: Why It Matters More Than You Think” and “The 3 Types of Dietary Fiber You Need.”)

For more tips on maintaining healthy and radiant skin through nutrition, see “11 Vital Nutrients for Skin Health,” from which this article was excerpted.

Catherine Guthrie

Catherine Guthrie is an Experience Life contributing editor.

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