Get Glowing Skin From Within: A Gut-Approach To Skincare
When it comes to clear, radiant skin, what's more important: what you put on your skin or in your body?
They’re actually equally important!
What We Put On Our Skin Matters
Beginning with what we put on our skin - non-toxic, natural skincare is a big part of well-nourished skin. Did you know that most skincare brands we see in stores (yes, even the high-end ones!) are full of things like phthalates and parabens (known endocrine disruptors), allergy-inducing and skin-irritating fragrances, heavy metals, and other carcinogens?
Luckily, we are now able to more readily find quality skincare from brands (like Primally Pure!) which use only the best ingredients that naturally support our skin’s health and restore its natural radiance.
I rely on my favorite Primally Pure products to cleanse, nourish, and protect my skin from the elements. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Plumping Serum: I love this stuff. Packed with antioxidants, it makes my skin look more firm and smooth and bonus: it smells amazing!
- Cleansing Oil: My skin dries out easily with many cleansers, and this one leaves it feeling clean and moisturized.
- Everything Spray: My skin is on the dry side, and I love how this soothes my skin from any irritation and primes my face to better absorb moisturizer.
- Lip Balm: I have these scattered all over my house because I just love them! The quality base feels great on my lips and protects them well. Peppermint and lavender are my favorite scents.
But maybe you’re already on the clean skincare train, and you are still seeing issues with your skin. What now? This is where we take a deeper dive because the foods we put in our body also play a huge role in skin health.
What We Put In Our Body Matters
And, as you may have guessed, this leads back to gut health!
What exactly triggers skin problems? Skin problems are commonly triggered by inflammation because of a “leaky gut.” Leaky gut, or increased intestinal permeability, means that the tight junctions in our intestines open up just enough to let undigested food particles (and other toxins or antigens) into the bloodstream.
This is when our immune system kicks in to fight off these invaders that shouldn’t be there. Our immune system is doing its job by creating inflammation, but when this is happening repeatedly, it can result in a state of chronic inflammation.
This inflammation can manifest as many symptoms, and commonly they’re outside of the gut:
- Skin problems - acne, eczema, dermatitis
- Bloating, digestive discomfort
- Achy joints
- Brain fog
- Low energy
- Depression and anxiety
- Autoimmune and other chronic disease.
Here are 6 common root causes of leaky gut:
1. Food Sensitivities: We are all unique, and we respond to foods differently. For some of us, these food sensitivities play an important role in leaky gut. Dairy, gluten, and soy are some of the top offenders. I suggest doing an elimination diet or working with a practitioner to take a food sensitivity test (warning: they’re not all created equal!) to determine which foods you are sensitive to.
2. Processed Foods: When we eat a low fiber, high sugar diet, we are feeding the “bad” bacteria in our guts and starving the “good” bacteria. This upsets the perfectly balanced microbiome and increases intestinal permeability. We also aren’t getting the nutrients we need from processed foods, and as the largest organ in our body, our skin needs these nutrients just as much as our hearts, brain, kidneys, and liver!
3. OTC and Prescription Drugs: Unfortunately, many of the pills we take to make us feel better have hidden unwanted side-effects. NSAIDS, a popular painkiller used in Advil, Aspirin, and Aleve, is known to cause gastritis and increased intestinal permeability, as are many prescription drugs. While occasional use is probably fine, if you rely on these regularly, you may want to find an alternative or work on the root cause of your pain, if possible.
4. Stress: Do you ever notice skin problems worsening in times of stress? So many of us lead a go-go-go lifestyle these days, and it’s incredibly hard to avoid stress. But stress is a well-documented cause of leaky gut. It’s actually a great place to begin when we are looking to heal leaky gut, because you can take all the supplements and eat well, but with high stress, you won’t fix your gut. Journal, meditate, spend time in nature; these are all great ways to reduce stress and increase stress resilience.
5. Sleep: This has to be my favorite! Did you know that even just missing out on a few hours of sleep can increase intestinal permeability? Make sure you’re prioritizing sleep, turning off electronics at least an hour before bed and getting a good dose of sunshine (or bright outside light) each morning/mid-day to set your circadian rhythm.
6. Too Much Alcohol: Yes, alcohol is another culprit of leaky gut. While the occasional indulgence won’t do any long-term harm, consuming alcohol regularly will impact your gut health, and concurrently, your skin health. I love swapping alcohol for something gut-health promoting (and also fun!) like kombucha, a probiotic-rich fermented tea.
How can we “fix” leaky gut?
It’s really important to establish the root cause of the leaky gut before we can work on fixing it, but here are a few key things you can do today to see improvement.
Eliminate or reduce triggering foods: Start with a trial of eliminating these frequently inflammatory foods from your diet for three weeks:
There are all kinds of rigorous elimination diets, but this is a good first place to start. After three weeks, add them back one at a time. Give your body 3 days after testing the food group and note any adverse effects.
Look for changes such as digestive discomfort, energy changes, aches and pains, headaches, rashes or acne. No symptoms? You’re free to add this food group back to your diet. Notice one or more of these? Keep this food out of your diet for now.
Often we need deeper gut healing when it comes to repairing a leaky gut and tackling food sensitivities, so with more severe cases, it’s best to work with a practitioner to do gut-health testing, get to the root of this issues, and guide you through a gut-healing protocol.
Increase nutrients/nutrient-dense foods to support gut and skin health: There are certain nutrients and foods that our skin just loves. Here are a few to prioritize:
- Vitamin D: Many of us, especially those of us living in a Northern climate, really need to supplement with vitamin D, as we just can’t get enough from the sun. Fish and grass-fed meats are another good source, but nothing beats the sun!
- Vitamin C: Essential for collagen synthesis and healing damaged skin, make sure you’re eating foods rich in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, strawberries, and peppers.
- Fish Oil: Fish oil is your microbiome’s favorite fat, and your skin loves it too! Take a good quality supplement or even better, eat fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, anchovies, or sardines at least 3x/week.
- Collagen: There have been numerous studies highlighting the impact collagen has on the appearance of your skin. It contains gelatin and amino acids essential for skin elasticity and it is also extremely beneficial in healing your gut. I especially like this collagen-rich bone broth protein.
- Hydration: Hydrating with filtered water aids in digestion, circulation, absorption, and rids body of toxins, all necessary for healthy skin. I like to add a pinch of sea salt (Celtic, Pink Himalayan) and squeeze of lemon to my water for micronutrients and better absorption.
- Probiotics: Eating foods rich in probiotics (think yogurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi) or taking a high-quality broad-spectrum probiotic can be helpful in increasing the number of “good” bacteria in our guts, modulating the effects of the “bad” bacteria.
Add in these supplements or foods that are high in these nutrients more frequently, minimize the processed food you’re eating, and increase your fruit and vegetable consumption. A great place to start is with my Glowing Skin Smoothie. It packs a punch of skin health-supporting nutrients, and you’ll start your day well-hydrated.