In part 1 of this series, we addressed the amazing duties of the skin as well as the powerful Gut-Skin Connection. Most, if not all, skin conditions are linked to gut health. Besides overall gut health (including overgrowth of opportunistic bacteria, yeast and SIBO as well as increased intestinal permeability or leaky gut), there are other factors that play a role in the health of your skin.
Here are 4 other factors to examine:
1) Environmental Toxins or Issues with Detoxification – We all have a certain threshold in which our bodies can handle and naturally detox. However, if our threshold has been met and we are not giving our body the tools it needs to work optimally, issues do arise.
So, we have to think about two things:
a. What Household and Beauty Products Are You Using? While the skin is huge in supporting the elimination of toxins and waste, your body will absorb what you are putting on your skin. Therefore, we have to be aware and cautious of the products that we use day in and day out. This includes:
Body lotions and sunscreens
Shampoos and Conditioners
Many of these products include aggressive chemicals that many are unaware of. The potential adverse health effects of certain products contribute to not only skin irritation and issues, but also to mental health disorders, poor immune system, hormone imbalance and infertility, and even cancer. Certain words you should be watching out for include, but are not limited to: sulfates SLS and SLES, parabens, formaldehydes, phthalates, petroleum, retinyl palmitate, oxybenzone, and triclosan. (See Part 3 of the
How to Heal Your Skin from Within series for more information on leading chemicals to avoid in household and beauty products).
b. Is Your Body’s Natural Ability to Detox Being Supported? It is important to focus 2-3 times a year on a good detox program where you eliminate the foods that cause havoc on the body to allow a healing and healthy restart. Check out the blogs Is Your Body Carrying A Toxic Burden? and Do-It Yourself Detox with Therapeutic Foods for more information.
However, we should all be focused on eating well all year long! Eating colorful fruits and veggies daily, consuming half your weight in ounces of water daily, and decreasing (or eliminating) the total amount of refined carbohydrates, sugar, and processed foods.
You can also utilize organic herbal teas like burdock root, dandelion root, ginger root, licorice root, sarsaparilla root, cardamom seed, cinnamon bark, and other herbs – I personally enjoy Traditional Medicinals Everyday Detox – Schisandra Berry flavor (check out the blog Healing Herbal Tea Therapy for more ideas). Supplements can also be helpful to help support daily detox including:
NAC or Glutathione
Flavonoids (example – quercetin)
Amino Acids like Glycine, Glutamine, Taurine, Cysteine and Methionine.
2) Hormone Imbalances – Chronic acne or cyclic acne can be a sign of elevated estrogen, elevated 5a reductase/DHT, and/or elevated testosterone. If you experience skin issues throughout your cycle, it may be a good idea to check out our Dutch Test for more specific and personalized information. Tip: Vitamin B6 has been shown to help with cyclic acne.
3) Poor Diet and Lifestyle - Generally speaking, the best thing you can do to heal your skin (and gut) is to eat a balanced whole-food diet including lots of colorful veggies and fruits (5:1 ratio), clean lean protein, and healthy fats while ditching the sugar, refined carbohydrates, and processed foods. Eating the rainbow means green spinach, orange sweet potatoes, yellow squash, blue blueberries, red bell peppers, white onions, purple grapes, etc. NOT a bag of skittles.
Probiotic-rich fermented foods are also helpful in healing the gut like sauerkraut, kefir, pickles, and kimchi (but if they make you uncomfortably bloated and/or gassy, you need to balance your gut flora first!) along with a high-quality probiotic with multiple strains to promote microbial diversity. Soil-based organism probiotics (or SBO) help create an environment that limits the growth of unfriendly bacteria within our digestive systems while speeding up the elimination of waste. They also help with the digestion and assimilation of carbohydrates, fats and proteins.
Prebiotics are a type of fiber that act as food for bacteria to support proliferation of our good gut bacteria. Prebiotics can be found in many high-fiber foods and are essential for supporting a healthy gut, and therefore healthy skin. You can find prebiotics in many foods like:
By consuming fiber daily, your gut microbes feed and ferment the fiber as they feed on it. This then creates anti-inflammatory compounds called short chain fatty acids that are essential for skin health, metabolic health, brain health and immune health. Restoring your gut health involves a good diet as well as some supplementation:
Zinc (the wound healer)
As well as other fabulous natural healers
Vitamin D alone supports overall skin cell growth, repair, and metabolism, so if you cannot be outside daily you may want to supplement, especially if you live at latitudes above or below 37 degrees of the equator (vitamin D should be taken with Vitamin K and Magnesium).
Diets DO NOT WORK. To be truly healthy and happy, sometimes lifestyle changes are in order. While you work on boosting your overall nutrition and dropping the foods that are causing your body and mind distress (and this takes time – always be willing to try new foods) examine other areas of your life that may need attention: water consumption, movement, leaving time to food shop or cook, etc.
4) Chronic Stress – Research shows that our stress levels, as well as gut health, can negatively impact the skin’s protective antimicrobial barrier and make skin conditions worse. It is important to find a stress relief technique that works well for you and with your lifestyle. Whether it is going to the gym, practicing yoga or meditation, going on daily walks (there is no such thing as bad weather – just bad clothes) utilizing breathing techniques, utilizing clean and calming teas, candles, and aromatherapy throughout the day, taking weekly bubble baths, getting weekly massages, or maybe even connecting with a health/life coach or therapist is in order, it does not matter, as long as it works for you and you stick to it.
**The bottom line is that skin conditions are telling you about inflammation and imbalance in the body and they can be prevented and treated naturally through:
Identifying and avoiding allergenic foods (usually gluten, dairy, eggs, refined carbs and sugar)
Balancing your gut flora and promoting good, healthy bacteria
Working on healing your gut lining through clean food and supplement
Supporting the body’s natural detoxification and digestion abilities
Adopting stress relief techniques that work for you
If you would like to learn more about what we can do to help you find the deep-rooted reasoning behind your condition, please schedule a FREE 15-minute consultation or email us for more information on consultations and functional testing.
In Part 3 of the How to Heal Your Skin from Within series, we will shed some light on specific harmful chemicals you may find in your everyday household and beauty products that you will want to be aware of. We share tips and recommendations on products for a healthier lifestyle.
Ali, I., Foolad, N., & Sivamani, R. (2014). Considering the Gut-Skin Axis for Dermatological Diseases. Austin Journal of Dermatology, 1(5).
Myers, A., MD. (2021, February 18). The Gut-Skin Connection. Retrieved March 11, 2021, from https://www.amymyersmd.com/article/gut-skin-connection/
Gaby, A. R. (2017). Eczema. In Nutritional medicine (pp. 728-738). Concord, NH: Fritz Perlberg Publishing.