If you had seen Casey Stevens when she was a teen, you could imagine why she avoided social situations. You see, Casey had terrible acne. The skin on her face was red and had many infected pimples. She finally decided to see a doctor. At a holiday gathering before her appointment, she told her cousin “I really want to feel confident, but my skin” … she stopped mid-sentence, tears rolled down her scarred cheeks. Her uncle, a medical doctor, was listening to the conversation between the teens. He could easily empathize with her pain. He said to her, “If you want clear skin, the answer is not in the right acne cream. The answer really lies in what you eat and the environment you create inside your gut.”
As you know, what you eat affects the way you look. The role of your excretory organs is to detoxify your body, working from the inside out through your kidneys, intestines and your skin. There are visible changes in the condition of your skin that are clear indicators of your gut health.
What is a Healthy Gut?
First, the gut needs to have more good bacteria than bad. “Essentially, good bacteria strengthen the lining of the gut,” says Grace Liu, pharmacist and nutritional scientist. The lining has two roles: keeping the good bacteria in, the bad bacteria out, and to absorb the nutrients from your food.
A healthy gut and digestive system will improve the condition of your skin because nutrients are being absorbed. These are the nutrients your body needs for growth, repair, and its normal functions including the proper response to invaders.
If there are not enough good bacteria, the tiny gaps between the gut cells enlarge and allow bad bacteria in. The immune system detects the invasion and overreacts, which leads to system-wide inflammation.
Acne, eczema, rosacea, psoriasis, and other skin conditions are the external symptoms of this inflammation. The proper balance of the good to bad bacteria allows for a balanced response to the invasion of bad bacteria and limits the damage to tissue as our immune system kills the bad bacteria.
Other Threats to Our Gut Health
- Stress, anxiety and depression can slow your digestion and cause your gut to reabsorb the toxins.
- Lack of sleep increases cortisol levels which increases stress.
- Medications such as antibiotics and birth control pills disturb the balance of good to bad bacteria.
- A poor diet lacking in fiber and nutrient-rich foods and containing too much sugar and refined foods leads to the tiny gaps in the lining, also known as “leaky gut syndrome”.
The above problems can all lead to constipation. When the body does not evacuate the contents of the intestines, the bad bacteria and toxins are reabsorbed through the tiny gaps causing an increase in bad bacteria which causes inflammation.
Even healthy foods can cause inflammation, if your body is sensitive to the foods. This can lead to acne as well.
How to Restore Gut Health
Probiotics and prebiotics are known to improve skin conditions. Probiotics are the beneficial bacteria that are found in certain foods and supplements.
Prebiotics are types of fiber that feed the friendly bacteria. Both are needed in the diet and can be found in fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, miso, kefir, tempeh, fermented cheeses, matcha green tea, alkalizing green vegetables, apple cider vinegar that contains the “mother”, and yogurt.
Yogurt with active cultures is the most beneficial food listed above. Its special proteins thicken the wall of mucus in the lining of the gut.
Also, your entire body needs a lot of Vitamin C. It is best to get vitamin C through fruits and vegetables that are both high in the vitamin and fiber. In addition, you need to eat a diet with plenty of proteins. Meats cooked on the bones are a good source because they also contain collagen which helps the skin, especially on the face.
As we age, our bodies produce less collagen. However, bone broth added to foods, including meats and sauces, helps us get enough. Vitamin C is necessary for the body to build the collagen at any age. Collagen is often taken for granted, until we notice the wrinkles. There are many topical preparations that say they contain collagen. However, research has shown that the collagen works best when it comes from a diet with adequate protein and vitamin C. The collagen works from the deepest layers of the skin, plumping and helping it hold moisture which smooths out the skin.
Topical Preparations that Help the Skin
First and foremost, always use a sunscreen. If you will be out in the sun for a long time, you might want to wear clothing that protects your skin as well. Eating yogurt before going out in the sun has also been shown to reduce the damage to the skin.
Yogurt can also be applied to skin after being out in the sun. This cools the skin and helps to reduce the damage. A few studies have also shown that applying the juice from foods rich in vitamin C also helps the skin – but it is not yet known exactly why. Moisturizers that do not contain alcohol can be used as an extra sunscreen and to protect the skin from dryness.
Do you remember the teenage girl Casey, and her sad skin story? Upon listening to her uncle’s explanation she completely changed her diet, and as it happened her skin problems completely cleared up. She effectively healed from the inside out.
Health and wellness, combined with high-performance has been a passion of Steve’s throughout his life. It has been this underlying theme that has fuelled his passion for sport and career and lead to the successful creation of the Body Genius Institute in 2012.