Your skin is your largest organ in your body.
It’s easy to forget that your skin is a vital functioning organ. With an average surface area of more than 21 square feet and 6% to 10% of your body weight, your skin is actually your largest organ!
Unlike other organs, you can easily touch, see and check your skin health daily, so it’s a great indicator of what’s going on inside your body – especially your gut health.
Skin conditions like acne, rosacea, eczema, psoriasis and dermatitis are typically a symptom of something else going on in the body.
I’m not saying that all acne is caused directly related to an imbalance in gut flora—it’s merely a piece in the puzzle, a significant piece.
So it makes sense that the health of your gut is fundamental to having glowing, clear skin!
The primary role of the gut is to absorb the nutrients from your food that your body needs for growth, repair, and normal functioning.
There are many things that inhibit proper absorption of nutrients, especially when the body doesn’t receive enough nutrients, it begins to prioritize which organs will get the few nutrients that are available.
Our hair, nails and skin are usually the first places in which we notice changes. This is because when nutrients are in short supply, the body drives nutrients towards essential organs like the heart, brain and liver.
Like we discussed last week, probiotics, the good bacteria in your gut are essential to brain health …and they are also responsible for the digestion of some types of carbohydrates that the human body is not equipped to digest itself.
A lack of helpful gut bacteria can lead to an overgrowth of bad bacteria, and when this happens, the gut walls start to become damaged.
This is known as leaky-gut syndrome or intestinal permeability, and is the culprit behind many common skin issues.
The gut wall is made up of lots of cells, and each of these cells are held together by a ‘tight-junction.’
Normally these tight-junctions are impermeable and do not let substances through, however harmful bacteria can damage these junctions and cause gaps to form. Once the tight-junctions have been opened up, you have what is known as leaky-gut syndrome.
When the junctions have gaps between them, contents of the gut are able to pass through the cell wall and into the bloodstream. Molecules of food, bacteria and parasites are then able to pass into the bloodstream where they can trigger a host of problems throughout other parts of the body.
Many autoimmune conditions as well as skin conditions are triggered by leaky gut syndrome.
While harmful gut bacteria is usually the leading cause of leaky gut syndrome, alcohol, gluten, dairy, food additives and pesticides can contribute to damaging the gut wall too.
When harmful substances make their way into the bloodstream, the body looks for the quickest way to remove them… and through the skin is often the quickest and easiest option.
The body triggers an immune reaction in response to these substances, which can cause redness, swelling and breakouts.
The first step in healing your gut and skin is to make sure that your body is getting all of the nutrients it needs through a diet including a variety of colored plant foods.
Fruits and vegetables are the richest sources of nutrients, and should make up the foundation of your diet. Other foods to include are whole grains, lentils, beans, nuts, seeds, lean meats and fish, and fats like avocado, and unrefined plant and nut oils.
There are many things you can do to increase your ability to absorb as much goodness as possible from your food, and the easiest of these is to chew your food.
It may sound silly, but remember that the first place digestion starts is in the mouth!
This is the only chance you have to mechanically break down your food. Once it’s been swallowed, the body can only use digestive enzymes, acids and probiotics to further break food down.
A lack of digestive enzymes can reduce the amount of fat and protein that you absorb, and leave your skin feeling dry and dull – which can be the cause behind eczema and psoriasis.
Gut bacteria has a massive influence on the health of your body, and especially the health of your skin.
Taking a high quality probiotic and eating probiotic rich foods is the best way to improve your gut bacteria ratio.
Foods like kefir, sauerkraut, natural yogurt, and kombucha can all help regain a healthy gut bacteria balance.
Keep things moving through the gut is key!
The main purpose of the lower gut is to excrete substances that the body doesn’t need any more. Ideally you should be using your bowels at least once per day – this ensures that waste products do not sit in the body too long.
If waste is left in the lower bowel, the body can reabsorb some of the substances that it’s trying to get rid of. These reabsorbed substances can then be excreted through the skin, which as we know can cause skin problems.
Fiber and fluids are the two things needed to keep waste moving out of the body.
There are two types of fiber!
Soluble and Insoluble. Soluble fibre is found in foods like oats, rye, barley, flax meal, chia seeds, and some fruits and vegetables. This type of fibre helps us to feel satisfied after eating, and has the special ability to bind to substances and slow their absorption (sugars and fats) and can help the body move excess hormones out of the system, and keep skin healthy and clear!
Insoluble fibre is found in all fruit and vegetables, whole grains, and nuts and seeds. imagine insoluble fibre traveling through my digestive system like a broom… It sweeps the sides of the intestines, collecting waste matter and moving it gently out of my body.Not only does insoluble fibre act as an internal cleaner, but it also feeds the bacteria living in the large intestine.
4 Tools to rebuild your gut:
1. Get comprehensive labs.
Stool Test: to look at your good bacteria levels and rule out any bacterial, yeast or parasitic infections.
Immunological Blood Test: This blood test will be able to assess if there’s been a breach of your gut’s defense system
2. Address any underlying gut issues.
SIBO — Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth
Dysbiosis — poor balance of good & bad bacteria in gut
Hypochlorhidria — low stomach acid
Parasite or yeast infections
Leaky gut syndrome:
3. Avoid processed foods, refined sugars, alcohol, dairy and gluten
4. Use food medicine to heal your gut-skin axis — Bone broth, Fermented Vegetables, Bitters, Kefir, Coconut oil and Liver
Tips for your digestive system for healthy skin:
- Chew. Your. Food!
- Eat probiotic containing foods such as; sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, fermented dairy, miso soup, or take a good quality probiotic supplement.
- Avoid processed foods, refined sugars, alcohol and gluten.
- Eating a high fibre diet, including lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, beans, nuts and seeds.
- And last but least (not exactly digestion related, but…), feed your skin with nutrient rich natural skincare to complete your holistic beauty routine for glowing, clear skin!