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The skin is the body’s largest organ, and it is constantly exposed to a number of toxins and chemicals. Pollutants from the environment can take their toll on complexion, causing clogged pores, wrinkles, dark circles, blemishes and a whole host of more severe skin disorders.
A well-supervised detoxification program can have amazing results on the skin; I have personally witnessed countless examples of this from our guests participating in our wellness programs at Amity Wellness.If detoxification seems daunting, a few small detoxification protocols can be implemented into your daily skincare routine that can greatly improve the look and feel of your skin.
The majority of modern day skin disorders such as premature aging, acne, pimples, psoriasis, rosacea and eczema are greatly influenced by environmental factors, which denotes detox protocols, gut healing, a change in lifestyle choices and nutritional optimization can have a profound effect at reversing them.
Dermatologists often approach skin conditions by treating the skin from the outside in. There are endless cosmetics and skincare products claiming fast and effective benefits and more severe skin problems are often treated with antibiotics, peelers and steroid creams that can wreak havoc with the friendly flora in the gut.
It is important to remember that the skin is portraying an internal representation of the gut or the brain and skin conditions are often a symptom or warning of a deeper problem or underlying cause that should be investigated. Itchy skin can be a symptom of food intolerances, scaly dry skin could be a warning sign of excess insulin and dry skin could be related to a thyroid issue. Mal-digestion, mal-absorption or poor GI function has to be addressed in any good skin healing protocol.
Avoid Sugar and Processed Foods
An excess of sugar, refined carbohydrates and processed foods contributes to premature aging by sticking to the amino acids in the Collagen and elastin, producing Advanced Glycation End Products (AGE’s). A nutritious whole food diet would be supportive of both the skin and immune system.
Check for Food allergies or Intolerances
The immune system uses Immunoglobulin’s (IgA, IgE, IgG and IgM) as our security to protect or defend us from the outside world. Immunoglobulin E antibody reactions are usually the most severe and show up in serious allergic reaction that can trigger atopic dermatitis or even anaphylaxis. The main foods that trigger an IgE response are Wheat, Dairy, Peanuts and Shellfish.
Some people have delayed food sensitivities that recruit IgG antibodies or they suffer with food intolerances that are not immune mediated. Leaky gut can be one of the causes of the immune system recognizing foods as an allergen.
If a person has both skin and digestive issues then the inter-connectness of the gut-brain-skin axis should be addressed. A good starting point would be a detoxification program followed by a gut healing protocol and a Low FODMAP (Fermentable Oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharide’s and polyols) diet for at least 30 days. FODMAP are specific carbohydrates that are not well tolerated or absorbed and are easily fermentable contributing to bacterial overgrowth in the gastrointestinal tract.
Mal-digestion, mal-absorption or poor GI function has to be first addresses in a skin healing protocol. Food allergy or food sensitivities are a good place to start looking if a person has skin issues but nutrient status, lifestyle, hormone optimization, GI function, sleep, stress management and exercise should also be addressed.
Methylation should also be assessed in chronic skin conditions, as it is crucial for the production of Glutathione, which is one of the most important molecules in the detoxification cycle. Problems in the methylation cycle can lead to compromised detoxification capabilities, toxic overload and an increase in histamine levels and skin related conditions. Active Folate (5-MTHF), active B12 (Methylcobalamin), TMG (Trimethyglycine) and active B6 (P5P) can support and improve methylation.
Once gut healing and methylation has been assessed there are several nutrients that are really important for a healthy glowing complexion, these include Vitamin A, Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5), Niacin (B3), Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Silica, Selenium, Vitamin K2, Zinc, Biotin, Sulfur, Fatty acids and Probiotics. Here are some of the essentials:
Zinc – Dietary sources of zinc often come from animal sources such as red meat, organ meats and seafood but can also be obtained from pumpkin seeds and nuts if they have been pre-soaked. Zinc improves wound healing, protects against UV radiation, supports protein synthesis, helps regulates gene expression and assists in the structure of cell membranes.
Biotin – The best sources are liver and egg yolks but other sources include almonds, walnuts, romaine lettuce and Swiss chard. Biotin is an essential cofactor for enzymes that regulate fatty acid metabolism, which is critical for returning moisture to skin. Biotin deficiency can result in dry crusty skin and dermatitis of the scalp, mouth or face.
Sulfur – The most bioavailable sources are poultry, meat, fish and egg yolks but other sources include Kale, Asparagus, Garlic, Onions, Brussels sprouts and Sauerkraut. Sulfur is crucial for collagen synthesis, which is what gives the skin strength, elasticity and structure. Sulfur is crucial in the war against wrinkles and sagging skin but is also required for the synthesis of Glutathione, which is one of the most important antioxidants in the body. Glutathione prevents damage from free radicals and regulates the production of prostaglandins, which can potentially reduce inflammatory skin conditions.
Vitamin C – Good sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits, bell peppers, broccoli, dark leafy greens, Brussels sprouts, kiwi, strawberries, cilantro, thyme, and basil. Consuming raw rainbow coloured foods is an easy way to obtain more vitamin C through dietary sources. Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant to prevent UV damage, it supports faster repair and regeneration and at higher dosages can lower histamine levels.
Cod Liver Oil – This contains Vitamin A and D, DHA and EPA which can have a wonderful effect on problematic skin issues. Vitamin D can increase skin moisture, DHA and EPH have an anti-inflammatory effect and Vitamin A promotes cellular turnover. Raised bumps or rough dry skin can be an indication of Vitamin A deficiency and can be greatly improved using cod liver oil.
Get plenty of Omega 3 Fatty Acids
These fats along with vitamin D and selenium are most abundant in cold water fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, anchovies, tuna and black cod. These good fats can reduce inflammation in the gut and skin leading to a more radiant, smoother, younger looking complexion.
The high ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 fatty acids in the modern diet is suspected to be a major contributing factor to skin conditions such as acne, rosacea and psoriasis, therefore it is crucial to increase consumption of omega 3 and reduce the consumption of commercial junk foods cooked in industrial seed oils.
Increase Fermented Foods and Probiotics
Fermented foods such as Kim chi, Sauerkraut, Kefir, yogurt and prebiotic or probiotic supplementation is essential for reestablishing the optimal balance of gut micro flora which in turn has a positive effect on skin health.
Supporting the skin-gut axis through a good probiotic protocol can influence systemic inflammation, tissue lipid content, glycemic control and oxidative stress. Soil based probiotic supplements will survive the gastrointestinal tract far better than commercial probiotics and are adapted for colonization of the gut.
Implement some stress management techniques
Mental and emotional stress can exacerbate a variety of skin conditions. Chronic stress increases the production of a hormone cortisol, which reduces the skin’s ability to hold on to water and triggers an elevation in blood sugar, which – via a process called glycation can damage collagen and elastin and cause excess wrinkling or sagging.
Drink more alkaline water
Drinking a large consumption of water is important for skin and overall health because it aids in circulation, detoxification, digestion, absorption and excretion. The skin is the largest organ and just like any other organ, the cells require an adequate amount of water to function correctly. Lack of hydration usually results in dry, tight and flaky skin that is more prone to wrinkling.