The skin is the largest organ of the human body! So when we think about this, “All of the structure and function of the human body is run by nutrition” it’s quite clear that nutrition plays an important role in the function of the skin.
It is my belief that skin conditions like acne, psoriasis, eczema etc aren’t hereditary, but come from dysfunction within the body. Yes we may have the genetic disposition but it takes something else, like poor nutrition and lifestyle, to trigger those genes. The skin can act as a backup elimination pathway in the body, so if your digestion, liver, or kidneys aren’t working optimally, then toxins may be eliminated through the skin, which in turn may cause skin issues. Therefore it is quite important that you make sure your digestive system is working optimally and you are getting enough nutrients through eating healthy whole foods for all elimination pathways to function correctly.
Sally Fallon writes that the health of the skin and the gut are linked, and when undigested proteins, pathogens and toxins pass through the gut, (which means they leak through the small intestines into the body – aka “leaky gut”), they can no longer be eliminated through the faeces and must be directed to our “back-up” elimination pathway. Skin conditions are often connected to food allergies or sensitivities, vitamin & mineral deficiency and certainly to an increased intake of refined sugars, gluten, processed foods and hydrogenated fats and oils, which all put stress on the digestive system. Sally Fallon’s article is a great read for a more in depth view of this.
Stress can play a role in digestive health, and stress can come from a variety of sources, our jobs, our home lives, family, grief, to name a few, and the body also perceives poor nutrient foods to be stress, after all it has the job of detoxifying and eliminating this junk we put in. Have you ever noticed when you are stressed you feel sick in the stomach? Again our busy lives have played a huge part here. It is so important to take time out for ourselves, do the things we love to do, fuel our bodies with beautiful healthful foods and perhaps get back to our inner child and get outside and play.
Much earlier connections were made about 70 years ago by Dermatologists John H. Stokes and Donald M. Pillsbury between emotional states, like anxiety and depression, to issues with the gut microbiota. Many of their points have been validated with recent studies showing associations between skin conditions and both mental health problems and digestive issues.
When it comes to conventional treatments like topical creams and gels, and various pharmaceutical medications, rarely is the question asked “why” by the treating practitioners. Why is the skin dysfunctioning? Why has this person got acne? It’s not normal (but may be becoming common) and it is going to continue, or manifest somewhere else in the body, unless we find the why! These treatments tend to only suppress the symptoms and don’t get to the root cause of the skin condition. Some of them even come with a myriad of side effects and risks that I personally would rather do without. If you are being treated, or thinking about being treated, I highly recommend you investigate your inner home along with the outer skin.
When Nutritional Therapists look for the “why”, where do we start, the gut of course! And what is the number one cause of dysfunction there, what we are putting in our mouths. If we are not putting healthful fuel in the body for use, then we are going to get dysfunction and that dysfunction starts in the gut and then works its way down the line into our other systems. My children often roll their eyes when I make this comparison, “Would you put diesel in a petrol car? No! Why not? Because it wouldn’t run properly and would eventually break down!” So why do we put unhealthful food in our bodies and expect them to run properly.
Is it the food manufacturers fault because they have made cheap, easily accessible products (I can’t bring myself to call it food) and label it as healthy, or is it humans that have become too busy, and perhaps too lazy, and perhaps forgotten, or never been taught, how to make our meals from healthful sources that come from the earth and animals. It has become normal, or more correctly more common, to grab something off the shelf at the supermarket that is already pre-made, than to make your own nutritios meals from scratch. Remember this statement “The longer the shelf life, the shorter your health life”.
Real food only has a short lifespan and is alive with nutrients that are beneficial to our health. Think about what you are going to choose and help your biggest organ be a healthy one!