By Fiona Tuck

A prebiotic is a type of plant-derived fibre, resistant starch, or polyphenol. To be classified as a prebiotic it must pass through the GI tract undigested and stimulate the growth and or activity of certain beneficial bacteria in the large intestine.

Prebiotics help increase the numbers of beneficial gut microbes (especially bifidobacteria), increase anti-inflammatory cytokines and decrease proinflammatory cytokines, which result in a decrease in overall inflammation. Short-chain fatty acids (SCFA’s) are the beneficial molecules produced by bacteria when they ferment prebiotics.

Prebiotic examples – wholegrains, legumes, nuts, seeds and many fruits and vegetables such as apples, kiwi, artichoke, peas, beetroot, leafy greens to name just a few.

Prebiotic benefits:
• Reduce unhealthy microbes such as Bacteroides intestinalis, B
vulgatus and Propionibacterium
• Reduce bacterial endotoxins
• Reduce inflammatory markers such as C reactive protein,
interleukins, TNF
• Lower post-prandial blood sugar and insulin concentrations
• Lower total cholesterol and triglycerides, increase HDL
• Improve satiety by increasing GLP-1 and peptide YY satiety
• Improve calcium and magnesium absorption

Psychological stress and/or a diet high in processed foods, sugar and saturated fat, low in fibre and prebiotics cause alterations to gut motility and the microbiota profile.

Changes in the gut microbiota composition have been associated with disturbed gut barrier functions, increased gut permeability and increased plasma endotoxins.

Though not yet fully explored, the mechanisms by which intestinal microbiota exert their influence on skin homeostasis appear to be related to the modulatory effect of gut commensals on systemic
inflammation and immunity.

Supporting a healthy gut microbiota via a healthy diet by increasing the diversity of plant foods for prebiotic benefit tends to be overlooked yet one of the most important places to start when we
are looking to support skin health holistically and lower systemic

Foundations of healthy eating for skin health:

• Reduce stress
• Include at least 30 different plant-based foods per week –
brightly coloured fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, wholegrains –
Diversity is key for intake of vitamins, minerals, polyphenols,
phytochemicals, prebiotics and fibre
• Oily fish three times per week (omega 3)
• Include small amounts of fermented foods such as keffir,
yoghurt, sauerkraut – be wary, fermented foods may aggravate
rosacea, eczema, peri oral dermatitis.
• Extra virgin olive oil – 30 – 40ml per day
• Minimise animal fats, ultra-processed foods, coconut oil and
processed meats
• Minimise refined carbohydrates, sugars, soft drinks and alcohol
• Avoid restrictive diets unless there is a medical reason to do so
• All things in moderation

Fiona Tuck is a skin and nutrition expert, and founder of VITA-SOL
Instagram @fionatucknutritionskin |

Fiona Tuck is one of our speakers at our APAN conference and is speaking on The Gut/Skin Axis and Its Implications in Acne

View Fiona’s lecture here