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Clean Eating For Glowing Skin: How Gut Health Impacts Skin Health

There’s no denying the importance of quality skin care and a diligent skin care routine. But what if I told you that being mindful about what goes on your skin is only part of the solution? Just as our skin absorbs nutrients (and toxins!) from the outside world, it is also an outward expression of your gut health and the nutrients (and toxins!) you are absorbing through food. Skin conditions, like all others, are simply our bodies way of letting us know we are out of alignment; which is why we need to couple our skin care routine with an inside-out approach.

When we consider internal influencing factors to skin conditions we are looking at symptoms that point to be a bigger internal problem – be it stress, inflammation, gut dysbiosis, poor diet, food intolerance, hormonal imbalance, adrenal fatigue and so forth. Addressing chronic skin conditions like acne, psoriasis, eczema, cellulite, rosacea and so forth can be a combination of one, if not more, of the aforementioned triggers.

So who is the biggest culprit for causing our skin health woes?

Hate to break it to you but our beloved dairy products may not be doing you, or your skin, any favours. Experience acne? You might want to take note of this…

Studies have shown a significant correlation between dairy products – including milk, yoghurt, cheese, whey protein isolate – and cases of acne. This can occur for two reasons: one the individual is intolerant to dairy, be it a protein – whey or casein – or a sugar – lactose, resulting in increased gut permeability; where our skin becomes a site of dumping waste from our gut that travels through our blood stream, into the lymphatic system and out into our skin.

The second is a result of the physiological/biological impact it has on hormones. Dairy consumption elevates testosterone levels causing an increase in oil production, exacerbating acne and impacts women’s menstrual cycle, interrupts natural hormone patterns and increases oestrogen sensitivity.

So what can we do to counter this?

First and foremost we need to identify the root cause. Working with a Nutritionist you can uncover food intolerances, gut dysbiosis, pathogenic parasites, bacteria or yeasts, all of which are preventing you from having glowing skin.

But, like anything, if we give the body what it needs it has an innate ability to heal and repair itself. To repair damaged skin, i.e. from acne scarring or inflammation, we require nutrients like zinc, protein (amino acids), essential fatty acids, vitamin C, vitamin E and Vitamin A. Adequate protein is crucial to provide the body with our nine essential amino acids, which repair damaged tissues. Collagen, which consists of amino acids wound together to form elongated fibrils, supports tissue regeneration and has been used in the management of wound healing. Collagen can be obtained in the diet through bone broths, or as a supplement.

We need vitamin C, A and E as they are potent antioxidants, essential for wound healing. Vitamin A also helps control the inflammatory response of conditions, alongside our essential fatty acid Omega-3. Vitamin C helps the body form new collagen and in conjunction with zinc supports the immune system, protecting against further bacterial infection. Zinc supports the healing process by maintaining the durability of skin and mucosal membranes, further aiding in the healing process.

Where can you find these nutrients?

Go for wholefood fruit and vegetables rich in colour – predominately red, green and orange: including carrots, capsicum, broccoli, spinach, kale, grapefruit, oranges, strawberries, blueberries and kiwi fruit. Ensuring protein at each meal – either animal protein or plant-based protein – and incorporating nuts, seeds, salmon, quality oils and avocado into the diet will ensure we have a suitable amount of protein and essential fatty acids, respectively.

Tune into your body, take note of what works for you and what doesn’t and use that as a starting point. Take care of your skin on the outside, but remember, If the root cause of the problem isn’t uncovered then the issue will persist. This is where a holistic practitioner can become your private eye, to help you through the investigative journey to finding the solution to resolve the issue.

Annalise Maddrell (Resident Nutritionist)

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