Healing Your Skin With Food
Skin problems, such as acne, aren’t an uncommon health concern/complaint among both genders and can occur at any age, from early teenage years into adulthood. In the past year, I’ve talked to more than a handful of people who have experienced acne at some point in their life and have been on acne medication to help treat it. Some have had success and become acne free, some experienced no change at all and some have even experienced a temporary change until coming off the medication (which usually isn’t intended for long term use) only to see their acne flare up and then worsen.
I agree that there is reason behind being put on acne medication and to be clear, I am not saying that I’m for or against it. But do you know that a vast majority of skin problems can actually stem from the root of poor digestion?
When taking digestive health into consideration, we know that we have naturally occurring bacteria in our intestines. In fact, we as humans are actually made up of roughly 90% bacteria. The healthy intestinal bacteria (also known as probiotics) is one of your very best friends. When it is in balance, and there is enough of it in your gut, it helps you to digest food and absorb nutrients properly and fights off the “bad” or unwanted bacteria that health problems can result in. (It does countless other things for you too, but that’s an entirely different post on it’s own.) It’s when the friendly bacteria gets outweighed by bad bacteria that we experience problems. In Nutritionist lingo, this is called a dysbiosis. Since we’re speaking of digestion here, probiotics are needed to help the body properly eliminate waste products too. When they aren’t being eliminated as they should be, they re-circulate in the blood stream and cause a build up of toxicity which is important to be avoided all together.
What can contribute to an imbalance or lack of friendly bacteria?
1. Frequent consumption of refined foods & sugars (such as fast food, white sugar/flour/pasta & other starches and candy, chips, crackers, ice cream, etc.). The friendly bacteria does not have a sweet tooth and does not appreciate sugar!
2. Frequent use of antibiotics, which kill off both your good and bad bacteria.
3. Underlying Allergies/ hidden food sensitivities. They can occur when food is not fully digested (indication of a weakened digestive system) and sneaks in to the blood stream, which your body won’t recognize since they aren’t supposed to leave your digestive tract undigested! Having these invaders creates more work for your digestive system and can deplete your healthy bacteria.
4. Low stomach acid (HCL). Without a sufficient amount of stomach acid you are unable to properly digest food. A deficiency in the mineral Zinc has been linked to producing an insufficient amount of stomach acid required for digestion of food.
5. Pesticides are also harmful to friendly bacteria (for example, the pesticides found on non organic fruits and veggies)
.. to name a few. And just like there is not just one cause for acne and other skin problems, there is not just one solution.
And each person is different. But beginning with improving your digestive health through restoring the balance of friendly bacteria is an ideal starting point. The truth is, a problem with the skin (since it is an organ of elimination) may be showing it’s face as the last symptom to emerge. We don’t see what goes on internally, which means the problem could have started long before it showed up through the skin.
Here are a few tips to re-gain or to keep friendly intestinal bacteria in balance:
– Take probiotic capsules daily. These can be found at your local health foods store refrigerated in the supplements section. The more live cultures or “strands”, the better. (i.e.: 50 billion). These are important to take when/if you are on antibiotics, doctors will frequently recommend that you do.
– Consume fermented foods such as tempeh, miso, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir (fermented milk), yogurt will also contain some probiotics.
– Get tested for allergies or try an elimination diet if you think you may have some sensitivities.
– Avoid refined sugars/starches.
– Eat lots of greens! This will assist your liver with detoxification/safe removal of toxins from the body.
– Choose organic produce when possible. If you’re on a budget, you can refer to the “Clean Fifteen List” and the “Dirty Dozen” which can be easily found on google.
– Take a multi vitamin daily (always from a whole food source to ensure proper absorption of the nutrients)
There are many other things that can contribute to improving digestive health too. But without a doubt, probiotics are an essential part of optimal digestive health.