Skin Problems? Go With Your Gut

Many people these days battle with skin conditions, and with little relief in sight. They try miracle cream after miracle cream, but the results just don’t show. The thing is that skin issues don’t usually start on the skin itself. They start much deeper – in the gut.

Sound crazy? It might seem so at first, but there are dozens of ways that the two can impact on each other that you may never have considered. Let’s have a look at some of the ways that the gut and skin are connected.

Gut and Skin LinksGut Skin Connection

Nutrients

In order for the skin to be at optimal health, it needs certain nutrients. From fatty acids and amino acids to antioxidants and vitamins, they all need to be at good levels for your skin to protect you from the elements and stay firm and clear.

So where will these nutrients come from? From our food, through the gut of course. But if your gut isn’t digesting properly, or if it’s dealing with issues that require the same nutrients in high amounts, your skin will miss out.

That’s when the skin becomes vulnerable and can develop all sorts of issues, from acne to eczema.

Liver

The gut and skin have a very important friend in common – the liver. The liver detoxifies all sorts of chemicals, hormones and other toxins that your body encounters and no longer needs.

But when the gut starts producing toxins thanks to poorly digested food or the wrong types of bacteria taking root, the liver starts to strain to keep up.

Toxins are far more important to get rid of than hormones, so the liver prioritizes and you end up with far too many hormones circulating.

If that strain worsens, some of the toxins won’t be detoxified properly, and instead the body will try to excrete them through the channels of elimination – including your skin.

Bacteria

We now know that we are host to millions of bacteria that make their home in the gut. But did you know that your bacteria directly affect your skin health?

The types of bacteria present in your gut affect the production of Substance P, a substance that is implicated in many skin conditions. If the gut has too few good bacteria and too many bad, more substance P will be produced and more inflammation will occur.

Bacteria balance may also affect your amount of sebum production and the composition of the sebum, thanks to the impact on fatty acids and lipids.

Lymphatics

The lymphatics are a sort of waste removal system throughout your body. They flush out things like dead immune cells and toxins and keep your immune system primed and ready.

But when the lymphatic system is clogged up with toxins from the liver’s burden, or when the digestive system has used up most of the water thanks to bloating, the circulation of the body drops. All of those toxins have to go somewhere, so they exit nearby – onto the skin.

Hormones

So we know that hormone levels might get thrown out of balance thanks to the liver strain. But how does that affect the skin?

Sex hormones and stress hormones have all sorts of effects on the body. They can influence your blood sugar levels, your storage of fat, your thyroid function and the inflammation in your body.

All of these in turn can change your levels of sebum on the skin, the turnover rate of your skin cells, and the amount of toxins that need to be excreted through the skin.

Overall, excess hormones of any kind are a nightmare for your skin health, and they usually occur because of an issue in the gut.

Gut Conditions

There are hundreds of different gut conditions ranging from infectious to autoimmune, but when it comes to their impact skin health, there are a few core conditions to be aware of.



SIBO

SIBO, or small intestine bacterial overgrowth, occurs when the normal bacteria from the colon start to grow up into the small intestine, where they don’t belong. This happens when your body doesn’t move the bacteria down from the intestine into the colon properly.

The bacteria, who usually have access to mostly digested foods in the colon, start to ferment foods that aren’t digested yet and steal nutrients from you. This can then lead to leaky gut syndrome and begin a whole new host of problems.

Candida

Candida is the overgrowth of a type of yeast that is found in the gut, candida albicans. Normally the good gut bacteria keep the candida yeast well controlled.

But when the gut flora are weakened candida overgrows, it can damage your gut wall and release toxic substances that can significantly impair your immune system, cause widespread inflammation and make you feel very unwell.

The most common sign that distinguishes candida from other conditions is recurring oral or genital thrush.

Hypochlorhydria

Hypochlorhydria is a very long fancy word for low stomach acid. Thanks to popping antacids like candy combined with high stress lifestyles and nutrient-deficient diets, many people can’t produce enough stomach acid for their digestive needs.

This leads to an overgrowth of bad bacteria that can’t survive in acidic environments, contributing to development of dysbiosis and potential ulcerations.

It also reduces digestion of proteins and the nutrients found in protein, including essential vitamins, minerals and amino acids needed for healthy skin.


Dysbiosis

Dysbiosis is one of the key problems at the center of every digestive issue. It’s where the balance of good bacteria and bad bacteria is thrown out.

Bad bacteria release toxins into the gut that can damage the gut lining, as well as overtaking the good bacteria that would usually assist you in digesting your food and getting the most nutrition out of the food.

Leaky Gut

When the gut wall is weakened by toxins, bacteria or yeast, it causes increased intestinal permeability, or leaky gut syndrome.

The holes in the intestinal wall allow undigested food and foreign bodies through the wall before they are broken down properly. This alerts the immune system, and causes inflammation and an autoimmune response to try and protect the body.

Once the immune system is engaged, the body’s overall immunity drops, which combined with the inflammation can lead to a host of skin issues.

Causes of Gut Conditions

So why have all of these conditions seemingly popped up out of nowhere all of a sudden? It’s no coincidence – many of them have roots in our modern lifestyle. These are some of the most common causes behind them.

Antibiotics/Medications

The overuse of antibiotics and other medications has done a lot of damage to our guts. By treating every sniffle with antibiotics, as well as using steroids and hormonal pills, many people have stripped the good bacteria from their guts, leaving them inflamed and open to digestive issues.



Stress

Stress is toxic to the good bacteria of the gut. When stress occurs, the stress hormones and neurotransmitters that are released can rapidly alter the types of bacteria in the gut by increasing the virulence of some types, such as e. coli.

Stress reduces your ability to digest food properly, by down-regulating digestive enzymes, leaving you vulnerable and deprived of nutrients. The change in pH from lack of enzymes can also favor bad bacteria such as H. pylori alongside any bacteria found in the food you consume.

Lastly, stress can cause you to make poor food choices that further impact your gut health.



High GI diet

High carbohydrate and sugar diets can feed up the nastier inhabitants of your gut, including yeasts such as candida, as well as contributing to general inflammation and the load on your liver.

This throws out the equilibrium and leaves your good bacteria unable to balance out the bad guys.

Low fiber diet

Similarly, a low fiber diet means that the intake of soluble fiber and prebiotic foods are too low.

This can lead to the good gut bacteria having insufficient fuel to establish and maintain themselves, and allowing more toxic bad bacteria to colonize the gut instead.



Underlying issues/intolerances

Underlying intolerances can have a major impact on the gut health and cause further digestive issues.

If there is an undiagnosed intolerance, or even celiac disease, the gut will become inflamed whenever someone consumes the problematic food.

This stresses the body, reduces digestion of nutrients and disrupts the good gut bacteria.

Alcohol/smoking/drug use

Alcohol, smoking and drug use all have a negative impact on the gut flora and general state of wellbeing thanks to the strain they put on the liver and the increase in inflammation.

The increase in oxidative stress from these toxins can leave the gut stripped and open to developing issues.

Signs Of Gut Conditions

Wondering if you might have a digestive issue at the root of your skin problems? Here are some of the most common signs and symptoms of the conditions we’ve discussed.

Digestive

There are numerous digestive signs and symptoms you might notice if you have an underlying condition.

Constipation, diarrhea, bloating, gas, undigested food in stools, any significant change in stool color, stomach pain and heaviness after eating are just a few of the more common signs that you may notice.

Skin

Skin issues are another obvious sign that something is awry in the gut. From general inflammation and redness to rashes, breakouts and up to severe acne, most skin symptoms have a gut component.

Energy

Low energy or energy fluctuations are very common signs of a digestive issue. Because the body is so reliant on nutrients to provide oxygen to cells and balance blood sugar levels, poor digestive function can lead to a number of deficiencies and accompanying conditions such as anemia and insulin resistance.

Other Signs

Other signs and symptoms of a digestive issue could include increasing intolerances and sensitivites to food and non-food items such as perfume and makeup, runny nose and sneezing, poor immune function, fluctuating moods, any issues related to the menstrual cycle, poor concentration and brain fog.

Chronic yeast infections, either oral or genital, are also very common when candida is an issue.

Testing

Suspect you might have a digestive issue based on your signs and symptoms and health history? Luckily many conditions now have specific testing available.

For stool testing, food sensitivity testing and blood tests, you can make an appointment and discuss your concerns and to arrange testing to be performed. This includes testing for candida, H. pylori and general problematic bacteria.

If further testing is required, you may be provided with a referral to a trusted doctor.

Why Start With The Gut?

So if you have a skin issue, and it’s what you’re most concerned with, why should you start with a gut repairing treatment program?

There’s several reason why the gut is the most logical starting point.

Increased nutrient absorption

When you are dealing with any sort of health condition, you need reparative nutrients to alleviate the problem.

By starting your treatment in the gut, you’re ensuring that you are getting the maximum absorption of essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that are required to heal your skin.



Reduced inflammation

The gut is one of the major barriers exposed to outside pathogens and foreign bodies. But when it’s not at optimal strength, it can become a major source of inflammation that can spread throughout the body.

By healing the gut as your first step, you reduce the inflammation levels in your body, which then reduces the inflammation of the skin.

Reduced stress on liver

When unhealthy, the gut can cause a major strain on the liver’s detoxification systems. This strain can cause a backup of other things that need to be detoxified, such as hormones, and can throw out the delicate equilibrium needed for skin health.

When you address any digestive issues first, you reduce the liver’s burden, which allows it to properly process excess hormones and bring them back into balance.

Improved well-being

By increasing nutrients and reducing stress on the body, the healing of the gut can lead to many other improvements, including improvement in mood, energy levels and immune function.

These changes can help you to heal your skin – with better energy levels you are more likely to commit to your daily skin-care routine instead of flopping into bed. With a better mood, you’re less likely to become overly stressed about your skin, leading to fewer stress hormones. With better immune function your blemishes are less likely to become infected.
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Think that healing the gut might be your ticket to beautiful, clear healthy skin? Make an appointment today by clicking here.

 

References
http://www.jpp.krakow.pl/journal/archive/12_11/pdf/591_12_11_article.pdf
http://gutpathogens.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1757-4749-3-1
http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00441-010-1050-0
https://www.researchgate.net/profile/John_Bienenstock/publication/41188190_Is_there_a_’gut-brain-skin_axis’/links/54626c180cf2c0c6aec1b1fe.pdf
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20965806
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21281494
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20965806