Dr Nigma Talib, or Dr Nigma, as her clients call her, knows her stuff. Her book, Reverse the Signs of Ageing, is a veritable bible for anyone who wants to understand more about the link between gut and skin health, and with just a cursory glance at your face, she can accurately diagnose the food groups that are contributing to your complexion issues. It’s something she does on a regular basis for the likes of Penelope Cruz, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Stella McCartney and even Jason Statham, all of whom follow her suggested dietary regime and — well, you can see the results in ad campaigns and on the big screen. We spoke to the naturopathic doctor about the finer details of “digest ageing” and what you can do to stop it.
How did you first discover that gut health was connected to skin?
It’s our training as naturopathic doctors to look at the root causes of illness. The correlation here was very straightforward. Anytime a patient had chronic acne, eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis and premature ageing I’d investigate what was going on in the gut by looking at the bad bacteria and other pathogens, good bacteria and strength of the gut lining. Once I was able to see what was living in the gut that shouldn’t be and what wasn’t living in the gut that should be, I was able to help the patient correct the imbalances, which then would, over time, heal the skin. The gut is where most of our immune system, is and if we correct our immune function at the gut level, most — if not all — skin issues are resolved.
Of the four “faces” you talk about — issues triggered by gluten, wine, sugar and dairy — is there one that’s worse than the others?
I’d say sugar is the worst, and wine being like sugar is just as bad, although there’s more sugar sneaking into the diet than just through wine. Sugar is the root of all evil for the gut and the body. It feeds the bad bacteria and pathogens, it causes retardation to our collagen — which in turn causes our skin to sag — and, worst, it affects our microcirculation, leaving us prone to disease.
Are some people more tolerant to certain substances than others or do they all affect us equally?
Some people are intolerant to even garlic and lettuce. All of us are unique and can have food intolerances that we’ve always had and not known about, and we could also acquire new food intolerances due to “leaky gut” issues.
Is gut health just about cutting things out, or also about adding good stuff?
It’s both, and I want to stress that I want people to focus more on what they should eat versus what they shouldn’t. Colourful vegetables are key antioxidants that are needed for DNA repair and nutrition for the gut. But also looking at the four faces of ageing in my book can give people an idea of what they’re eating that’s causing them to feel and look a specific way.
What are some common supplements we can all add to our diet, and why are yours so specifically good for skin?
Beauty in a Bottle is like a multivitamin elixir for your skin and also helps the immune system and the thyroid. It’s more than just skin, it’s a well-rounded supplement for hair, skin and nails, and works on the root cause of why the skin isn’t glowing the way it should be.
From a topical perspective, what do we need to do?
One always needs a good cleanser to detoxify the skin and allow it to resurface. After that, a serum with plant stem cells, hyaluronic acid and Vitamin F is a must to protect the skin, hydrate it and help combat poor elasticity.
What’s your dietary and fitness regime?
I do cycling and Pilates about three to four times a week.
What’s your beauty regime?
I start with bone broth or a soup in the morning followed by cleansing my skin and then I apply my Dr. Nigma Serum No. 1 followed by Dr. Nigma Crème No. 1 — I layer the two together for optimal results.
What’s the one thing any of us can do to improve our skin?
Everyone should take a probiotic, as we’re all exposed to various pathogens and toxins through food, water and medication. A probiotic keeps the bad bugs away, helps the gut metabolise toxins out and helps support the activation, assimilation and absorption of nutrients in the body.