Those who know me or have been into Clinic 10 know that I truly believe our lifestyles, diet, emotional well-being as well as topical skin care, and a regular visit to and experienced skin care specialist when all put together can make a maaahooosive difference to our skin general appearance, energy levels and of course self confidence and health!
So I came across this excellent blog about the links between our digestive/gut heath and how it may affect our skin and wanted to share with all of you, I hope you find it as interesting as I have…. Have a read through and see if any thing seems to be relevant to you.
So how do you know if your acne might be mainly rooted in digestive problems? It can be hard to know, but you can take a guess based on the following:
- Digestive Distress – You get frequent digestive issues, like constipation (straining and/or going less than once a day), diarrhea or frequent loose stools, acid reflux, bloating, pain, bad breath, excess gas, etc – or more serious digestive diseases like IBS, GERD, Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, SIBO, Gastritis, Celiac Disease, etc…
- Full Body Symptoms – You have other symptoms not related to digestion, like whole body fatigue, allergies, rashes, yeast infections, fungal infections, brain fog, mental health issues, or an autoimmune disorder.
- Antibiotic Use – You have been on frequent or long term antibiotics in the past.
- Certain Foods Make it Worse – You notice you break out or acne gets worse after eating certain foods.
- Location – digestive acne can be anywhere on the face or body, and can also present itself the same way as hormonal acne – around the chin, mouth, and jaw. It’s also not necessarily big or cystic but it definitely can be so.
So how does problems in digestion cause acne?
Well, the health of the gut determines many things – what nutrients and allergens are absorbed into your body, and which microbes, parasites, and toxins are kept out. It’s directly linked to the health of your whole body because it’s kind of like the ‘starting point’ of almost everything in your body – aside from things directly absorbed through the skin, and stress that originates in your mind.
But everything else – the food, the bacteria, the microorganisms, the toxins; everything enters to the body and goes through the stomach, then into the intestines, and out through to the other end.
The optimal digestion, absorption and assimilation of food is very important to your overall health, and it’s just as important as what you actually eat!
If there are digestive issues going on down there, the following happens and can lead to acne:
- Food doesn’t get broken down and absorbed properly, therefore you don’t get the nutrients you need from your food to heal your skin
- Toxins and used hormones aren’t leaving the body fast enough and can get reabsorbed and recycled back into your body (in the case of constipation)
- The intestines can get irritated and ‘holes’ form in the walls (called leaky gut), which allows undigested food into the bloodstream. Your body sees these as foreign invaders and it sets off an immune response, which creates inflammation throughout the body
Digestion going smoothly is dependent on many factors, but one incredibly, stupendously (yes, I just said stupendously) important factor is the trillions of bacteria that live inside your gut, collectively known as ‘gut flora’.
Yes, there are literally trillions of bacteria in there (seriously – over 500 species; up to three pounds of bacteria; three times the amount of bacteria as human cells that we have in our bodies), and they aren’t all bad!
In fact, in an ideal world, most of them should be good, helpful bacteria, with only a minimal amount of bad bacteria (a optimum ratio of about 5:1). The good guys do a lot of amazing things that help digestion go smoothly and reduce inflammation, and also keep the bad bacteria in check (the bad bacteria create inflammation & irritation).
Most people don’t have super stellar good-to-bad bacteria ratios though, for many different reasons. Arguably the biggest one though is the use of repeated, frequent, and lengthy rounds of antibiotics. Antibiotics kill all bacteria, good and bad, and afterwards leave you open for the bad bacteria to proliferate and grow.
Many people find that their digestion got a lot worse after antibiotics – and their acne too!
Which is pretty ironic, and unfortunate, and irresponsible, considering how quickly doctors prescribe antibiotics for acne. It might clear it up in the short term but tends to make it worse in the long run.
Alright, so what can we do about it?
In addition to all the holistic stuff (healthy diet, exercise, stress reduction, etc), which is the first line of defence to clearing up digestive issues, here are additional things that may help, in no particular order:
- Rebuild your gut flora to a healthy balance of good bacteria. You can do this by eating fermented foods or taking probiotic supplements. Or preferably both.
- Treat any infections or overgrowths of bacteria, bugs, parasites, or yeast (candida) in your digestive tract. You can do this by using anti-fungal supplements for a short while and / or a short candida cleanse program.
- Take extra Omega 3 fats and Vitamin A, as this really helps soothe inflammation in the digestive tract (highly recommend fermented cod liver oil).
- Eliminate food allergies for a short period of time as your gut heals. Common ones are to dairy, gluten, and soy.
- For extra support, you may want to use a supplement called L-glutamine, which is an amino acid that’s awesome at repairing the gut lining.
Til next time …
Andrea, Clinic 10
Credit – Tracy Raftl