Shannon's Edit

Good Bacteria, Beautiful Skin with Donna Gates

February 12, 2013
donna gates

Taking a close look in the mirror can reveal much more than our skin type, says holistic health expert Donna Gates.

The health of our body’s largest organ is actually directly related to the health, or lack thereof, of our gut. So if we suffer from dryness, acne or any other skin issue, putting on a topical cream can do little to deal with what’s causing the problems at a deeper level.

The modern processed foods diet (often referred to as SAD: the Standard American Diet), coupled with high and continual stress, as well environmental toxins, puts the body in an acidic state, which not only kills off the beneficial bacteria in our gut, it also allows the bad bacteria to take over, often resulting in Candida Albicans overgrowth and its associated health problems.

“The skin and gut connection has been recognized as undeniable in the medical community,” says Body Ecology‘s Donna Gates, an expert in the field of digestive health. “In fact, most dermatologists will acknowledge that gut issues and skin problems frequently occur together.”

She adds: “One study investigated 13,000 adolescents. Those with acne were more likely to experience symptoms of gastrointestinal distress like constipation and heartburn. The study found that abdominal bloating, which is a sure sign of intestinal dysbiosis and inflammation, was 37% more likely to be associated with acne. Other studies have found a link between mental health and skin disorders.”

It has long been known that good bacteria has direct impact on the health of the skin, improving inflammatory conditions, and even helping to ease depression. In fact, says Donna, the gut, brain and skin are all interrelated.

While popping a probiotic pill can be helpful in adding more beneficial bacteria, such as lactobacillus, to the gut, cultured foods and drinks are the best way to make a good and lasting change to your overall wellbeing. One of my favorite ways to do this is with cabbage rejuvelac (see the recipe I use). But there are also other ways to bring a little culture to your every day. Foods such as miso, kimchi and tempeh are also great options, but you can also make your own (see recipe below).

It’s worth noting that supermarket varieties of yogurts and probiotic drinks that promise to flood your body with good bacteria, are usually filled with processed sugar, additives and nowhere near enough good bacteria strains to be helpful to your skin or health.

Donna Gates Cultured Veggie Recipe


One important secret to making really delicious cultured veggies is to use freshly harvested, organic, well-cleaned vegetables. After washing the veggies, spin them dry. It’s essential that you scald your equipment in boiling water before you use it! For more recipes, visit


  • 1 head green cabbage, shredded in a food processor
  • 1 bunch kale, chopped very finely by hand
  • 5 or 6 collard leaves chopped very finely by hand
  • ½ head cauliflower, broken in tiny florets, or chopped very, very small
  • 2 to 3 carrots, shredded in a food processor
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 Tbsp. celery seeds
  • 1 Tbsp. dried oregano
  • ½ Tbsp. dried basil
  1. Using a starter culture to ensure a perfect and potent product
  2. Dissolve a package of Body Ecology Veggie Starter Culture in ¼ cup warm (90 degrees F) filtered water.
  3. Add Body Ecology’s EcoBloom to feed the starter if desired. You might also use a ½ tsp of Rapadura sugar or a bit of honey.
  4. Let this starter mixture sit for approx. 20 minutes or longer while the L. Plantarum and other bacteria wake up and begin enjoying the sugar.
  5. Add this starter culture to the brine in step 3 below.
  6. Begin preparing vegetable mixture.
  7. Combine all veggies, seeds, and herbs in a very large bowl.
  8. Remove approx ½ of the above mixture and put into a blender.
  9. Add enough filtered water to blender to create a “brine” the consistency of thick juice.
  10. Blend well then add starter culture above to this brine.
  11. Add brine with culture back into veggies, celery seeds and herbs from step one.
  12. Mix together well. Note: If your blender is small you may have to do step 3 in two batches but you only need to add the starter culture once.
  13. Pack mixture down into as many pint or quart sized glass jars as necessary to hold all the mixture. Use a potato masher or your fist to pack veggies very tightly. You want to force out most of the air.
  14. Fill container almost full, but leave about 2 inches of room at the top for veggies to expand.
  15. Roll up several outer cabbage leaves into a tight “log” and place them on top to fill the remaining 2-inch space. Clamp jar closed, or screw on lid very tightly.
  16. Let veggies sit at approx 70 degrees F or room temperature for at least a week. Two weeks may be even better. Refrigerate to slow down fermentation.
  17. Veggies will keep in the fridge for many weeks, becoming softer and more delicious as time passes!
  18. Eat at least ½ cup of cultured veggies with every meal and… enjoy!