As many of you know, or maybe you don’t, I’m not a mind reader here, but there is growing evidence that the health of your skin is connected to the health of your gut. Who would have guessed? Many skin conditions such as acne, rosacea, eczema, and psoriasis are symptomatic of underlying problems with the body. There is a growing field of medicine called systems medicine and it focuses on the idea that all the systems in our body are interconnected and that problems in one system can show as symptoms in another. We have long known that the gut system affects the brain, but there is exciting new research showing there is a gut-skin axis that affects the health of your skin. Because of this gut-skin axis many skin conditions including acne are being considered inflammatory disorders of the immune system.
So how does this all work?
There are a few things that go on in the gut that can affect your overall skin health
· Gut inflammation: Poor digestion can cause inflammation in the gut. This can be caused by certain foods that are difficult to digest like, red meat, dairy products, wheat, and alcohol. It can also be caused by certain prescriptions. It sounds counterintuitive, but NSAIDS (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs – think Ibupropfen) are notorious for causing inflammation in the gut. Research estimates that nearly 65% of chronic NSAID users will develop inflammation issues at some point in their lifetime. Antibiotics are also notorious for upsetting the balance of gut health. Antibiotics don’t discriminate when it comes to destroying bacteria. This means that it is taking out the good bacteria with the bad. By disrupting the balance of bacteria in the gut antibiotics can lead to, you guessed it, inflammation. It seems like almost anything can mess up your insides, but don’t despair we will talk solutions in a moment.
· Nutrient Absorption: If you are anything like me you like to eat. Lucky for me I have a husband who knows how to cook. He made these amazing Korean BBQ Tacos the other day with fresh cabbage, and made from scratch sauces it was to die for, but I digress. What I don’t like is when my body doesn’t utilize all that yummy fuel I gave it to its fullest extent. I try my best to get in fruits and veggies as they are filled with nutrients, but a lot of the issues discussed earlier can also affect the body’s ability to absorb those nutrients. A couple of really good supplements you can take to help improve skin health are Omega 3’s and the retinoid form of Vitamin A (most commonly found in liver). These supplements are best taken with other fats as they are fat soluble.
How do you know if your acne is caused by gut issues?
If you answer yes to any of the following chances are pretty good that your acne may have a gut/digestive connection.
1: Are you current taking or stopped taking in the past year any prescription medication? This includes NSAIDs, antibiotics, birth control, or even medicine to treat your acne.
2: Do you have other symptoms of gut distress such as bloating, mental fogginess, heart burn, or issues with your number 2?
3: Signs of Candida overgrowth- a white coating on the tongue, sugar cravings, UTI’s/ yeast infections, or anal itching?
4: Known or possible food allergies or intolerances?
What can I do to help?
I know at this point you’re probably curled up on the floor in distress wondering how you can ever fix your gut and bring back that healthy youthful glow to your skin. Fear not for I am here with the answers. Remembers those supplements we were taking about earlier? That’s a great place to start. The Omega 3’s and the retinoid form of Vitamin A help to juice up the gut and help to restore the natural levels of stomach acid which helps us break down our food better which helps to reduce inflammation and improves nutrient absorption. A good probiotic can really help to restore the balance of good bacteria in the gut which also does wonders for nutrient absorption and making you feel better all around.
Finally, I know it might hurt, but you have to cut back on foods known to cause digestive distress. I am not going to go so far as to tell you to eliminate them entirely as I firmly believe in the idea of all things in moderation, but if you are having acne problems that are being caused by gut issues it is probably worth it to cut back on red meat, dairy products, wheat, and alcohol. When all else fails though or if you just want more information you can always come and chat with me your wonderful, majestic, and all knowing (Okay maybe I’m a bit conceded, but confidence is good for a girl right.) esthetician.