The Secret to Sofia Vergara’s Gorgeous Skin
New York Post
April 6, 2016
When publicist Yun Yu, 28, wants to clear up her skin, the Alphabet City resident heads straight for the sauerkraut. No, it’s not some secret weird ingredient in a face mask. She’s eating the fermented cabbage because of its slew of health benefits — including treating acne.
“I swear by fermented foods,” says Yu, who comes from a Southeast Asian background and grew up in The Bronx. “Growing up we always had fermented soybean products in our fridge,” she says. “But then as I got older, I started eating so much junk that I noticed my skin was breaking out more. So I started reading labels, and found that these natural probiotics I knew from childhood helped my digestive system and cleared up my skin.”
Eating fermented foods to improve gut health is all the rage in health circles these days — and no wonder. Doctors say the healthy bacteria and yeasts — known as probiotics — present in kimchee, sauerkraut, yogurt and other fermented foods aid the digestive system and have numerous health benefits.
“[They] are very valuable in our intestinal tracts,” explains Harvard-educated integrative-medicine specialist Dr. Andrew Weil, who was one of the first to bring the connection between a happy gut and overall health into the mainstream. “They prevent overgrowth of harmful bacteria, prevent against allergens and environmental toxins, and promote better digestion, better overall health and better brain function as well.”
If you need more proof of the gut-skin connection, take a look at Sofía Vergara. Her dermatologist, Dr. Dendy Engelman, gives patients a list of foods that have probiotics in them and advises them to incorporate them into their diets or to take a probiotic supplement.
“If we have an unhealthy, unbalanced gut environment, toxins can be released into the bloodstream and cause inflammation throughout the body,” she says. “This shift in gut flora, and the subsequent inflammation, can cause a flare-up in the skin of those who are predisposed to acne, eczema or rosacea.”
Eating more pickled foods might even help wean you off Prozac. Some emerging frontiers of psychiatry are prescribing probiotics as a way of treating mental-health problems such as depression. “In my practice, we found that many patients struggling with anxiety and depression have benefited from probiotic supplementation,” says psychiatrist Dr. James Greenblatt of Walden Behavioral Care in Waltham, Mass. “They work especially well for people who have taken a lot of antibiotics in the past, have other GI problems, or are under a lot of stress. I’ve seen patients’ levels of anxiety decrease when on the regimen.”
Research is still in its infancy as to whether taking probiotic pills is as effective as getting them from fermented foods. Weil favors the latter.
“In order for these beneficial microbes to be effective, they have to be alive,” he says. “When it comes to supplements, it’s often hard to keep these cultures alive like they are in fermented foods.”
How much should you be eating? “Start with a small amount and work your way up. For example, one tablespoon of sauerkraut per day is a great start,” says nutritionist Cynthia Pasquella, who regularly recommends probiotics to her patients. “It’s important to start slowly, because you can experience minor symptoms like bloating or gas as your digestive system adjusts to the added probiotics.”
If sauerkraut and kimchee aren’t your thing, don’t fret. Lesser known fermented foods include miso, tempeh and kombucha. Just make sure you read the labels: Unpasteurized sauerkraut is more effective than pasteurized, as are pickles that are labeled fermented rather than simply pickled in vinegar. Whatever you choose, Pasquella says, “listen to your body cues and see what feels best for you!”
THREE PROBIOTIC PICKS:
Red miso paste: Some might not know miso beyond the soup at sushi joints, but the soybean paste is a great healthy ingredient to have in your kitchen. Mix it with oil and vinegar for a flavorful salad dressing or use it to marinate fish or vegetables. Miso Master red miso, $10.99 at Whole Foods
Tempeh: This soybean product originates from Indonesia but it’s now a favorite protein for vegetarians around the world. Try marinating it in soy sauce and spices, thinly slicing it and grilling or pan-frying it. It has an appealing nutty flavor and is great in salads and bowls. Lightlife tempeh, $2.79 at Whole Foods.
Kombucha: This low-calorie, lightly effervescent tea beverage is an acquired taste — think sparkling pickle juice — but fans swear by it. Added flavors, like Gingerade and berry, help make it more palatable. GT’s organic raw kombucha, $3.99 at Whole Foods.