Prof. Dr. Michaela Ax-Gadermann is a doctor and professor of health promotion at the University of Applied Sciences in Coburg (subjects including anatomy, physiology, disease, sports in prevention and health communication) and researches at the university on the subject of intestinal flora and skin flora. She has written several bestselling books on the subject of intestinal flora, including “Schlank mit Darm”, “Schön mit Darm” and “Schlau mit Darm”, which of course could not be missing in my own bookshelf.
I met Michaela during a cooperation and I am very grateful for that. She is one of my sources of inspiration and I hope we will work on some great topics in the future.
She has a great, down to earth nature, lives with her husband and two children in Fulda, loves running in the wood when it rains, and prefers to travel to warm countries. Her specialization is the connection between the intestine and the skin, so I am very pleased that she gave an interview on this topic.
Prof. Dr. Ax-Gadermann: You can not conclude directly from the skin, whether a disturbance of the intestinal flora is the trigger. But if intestinal complaints such as flatulence, irritable bowel, stool irregularities such as diarrhea and constipation occur together with skin diseases, then you should not only take care of the skin, but also of the intestinal bacteria. In acne, atopic dermatitis, rosacea and psoriasis, the relationships are well documented. In small children, a disturbance of the intestinal flora is often months ahead of the onset of the skin disease. Here it makes sense to build up the intestinal flora. Often then the skin symptoms improve. However, you need, as with all diseases that accompany a disturbance of the intestinal flora, a little patience: First, the intestinal flora must recover, then the skin gets better too.
Dominika: In your book you beautifully write “The beauty saloon in our stomach”. How does a healthy gut matter for a beautiful skin?
Prof. Dr. Ax Gadermann: The gut flora is able to produce substances that we would rather assume in facial care or lifestyle products. Hyaluronic acid, ceramides, lactic acid, antioxidants and UV protectors are used by the cosmetics industry to delay skin aging, replenish wrinkles and make the complexion glow. These beauty elixirs can be also produced by the healthy intestinal flora and thus make us pretty and visually younger. Each microorganism has its own specialty. In a Korean study, subjects were given either a dietary supplement containing the lactic acid bacterium Lactobacillus plantarum or a placebo for three months. Just by taking this probiotic germ, the moisture supply to the skin improved significantly, the skin elasticity increased by more than 20 percent. And the most surprising thing: after twelve weeks, the participants had measurably fewer wrinkles, while the skin condition in the placebo group did not change.
Dominika: The intestinal flora ensures that the most important chemical messengers in the body are balanced. Which substances are meant in particular and what effect do they have on the body?
Prof. Dr. Ax Gadermann: You can imagine the intestinal flora as a large protective fabric factory in which numerous important substances are formed and converted. The intestinal flora produces vitamins, e.g. Biotin, also referred to as skin and hair vitamin, or antioxidants that protect against free radicals. It is involved in the conversion or regulation of hormones such as sex hormones, stress hormones or thyroid hormones. It forms short-chain fatty acids, e.g. Butyrate. High levels of butyrate contribute to weight loss, anti-inflammatory and promote a healthy intestinal flora. Also the starting materials for nerve messengers, which take us fears or let us sleep better, come from the intestine.
Dominika: Can you give some examples on nutritional beauty boosters that flatter our gut and skin?
Prof. Dr. Ax Gadermann: Our intestinal flora needs prebiotic fiber to stay healthy. These are not being digested in the upper intestine and get further to colon where they are available to the microbiota as food and promote their healthy development. Such prebiotic fibers are found in, for example, oatmeal, green bananas, leeks, onions, garlic and black coffee. But it is also good to eat plenty of fermented foods, i.e. foods that are processed by microorganisms such as yoghurt (including the vegan varieties), kefir, cheese, sauerkraut or buttermilk.
Important for the intestinal flora are also polyphenols. They have two positive effects on the skin: On the one hand, they promote the development of a healthy intestinal flora and, on the other hand, they catch free radicals. These are aggressive molecules that accelerate skin aging. Polyphenols are found in many plant foods such as kale, dark berries (blueberries, raspberries, currants) and berry juices, dark chocolate, green tea and others.
Dominika: Is it true that sugar and fast food are beauty killers that accelerate aging?
Prof. Dr. Axt-Gadermann: Yes, excessive consumption of sugar, but also frequent consumption of ready meals, wheat flour products, etc. leads to a process called “glycation”. In the connective tissue, sugar molecules combine with the collagen fibers and damage them. Fast food and ready meals often contain larger amounts of saturated fatty acids and other ingredients, including: Inflammation can also promote inflammation, accelerating aging in general and skin aging in particular.
Sugar, fast food and ready meals do not only contain unfavorable substances, but they are also lacking important nutrients such as vitamins, trace elements and phytonutrients.
Dominika: What are your personal beauty tips?
Prof. Dr. Ax Gadermann: It is important to enjoy life, to laugh and to be passionate. A positive attitude towards life is what most people then also radiate.
Eating many “protective substances”. They are contained in fruits, vegetables, tea and coffee. But also dark chocolate and now and then a glass of red wine is good too.
Sun protection and skincare tailored to the skin type are also important for healthy skin.
And of course you should take care of the intestinal flora, with appropriate diet and a good Synbiotikum.
Many thanks for the great interview and the provided books and calendars, Michaela!
Further interesting topics around the gut health can be found on her page: https://schlank-mit-darm.de
I wish you a great first Advent Sunday everyone!
I am a nutritionist and since few years I am specialized in the field of “intestinal health”. Enjoy browsing here!