You Are What You Eat
Kerri-Lynn LaPointe, ND | August 9, 2010 | 10:08 am
Most people do not make the connection between what they eat and how their skin looks. Poor eating habits, low quality food choices, a weakened digestive system, or poor liver health will often present as a variety of skin conditions, ranging from hives to acne to eczema. There are many ways in which food and digestion can affect our skin.
As food is digested, nutrients are absorbed and waste travels towards the colon to be excreted. The longer the transit time (for example, if you are constipated), the longer food sits in the bowels. Proteins putrefy, fats become rancid, and carbohydrates ferment. In order to prevent disease, these toxins must be excreted. This occurs through the skin when digestion is impaired.
Hypochlorhydria (low stomach acid) naturally occurs as we age. However, the stomach requires adequate amounts of hydrochloric acid (HCl) to digest fat and protein. In addition to stomach problems such as constipation, heart burn, gas, and bloating, this condition may also result in acne, dilated blood vessels on the cheeks and nose, iron deficiency, and weak, cracked fingernails. both healthy skin and healthy digestion relies on adequate amounts of HCl.
An overtaxed liver can affect our energy, digestion, and skin. Fats and bile within the liver can easily become oversaturated with oil-soluble toxins, synthetic chemicals, and heavy metals. As toxins build, the liver becomes stressed, and these toxins are eliminated via the skin. This can result in rashes, acne, dry skin, etc. A biyearly detoxification of the liver is recommended to ensure efficient toxin removal.
In addition to stomach upset, food sensitivities affect the skin, and may cause puffy eyes, acne, hives, itching, and rashes. Often, due to poor digestion or frequently eating the same foods day after day, the proteins in foods (immunoglobulins) leak into our bloodstream through small tears in the intestines and trigger adverse reactions in the immune system. Food sensitivities are different from food allergies, which often present with life threatening symptoms (think peanuts or shellfish and anaphylactic shock.) Eliminating common food sensitivities or foods deemed sensitive via a blood IgG test will improve digestion and the skin.
Another culprit for poor skin is antibiotics, which are prescribed to kill the bad bacteria that cause disease, but which also kill the good bacteria required for a healthy immune system (70% of our immune tissue is located in the gut.) Too little good bacteria leads to poor digestion, which results in skin conditions.
When addressing skin complaints, we must also consider emotional factors. There is no separating mind and body when dealing with health concerns. Think of that annoying colleague who “gets under your skin.” If this emotional irritant persists long enough, and these are the words you are using to describe this person, it makes sense that you will start to manifest physical symptoms congruent with your emotional disposition. What about that issue you are “itching to do something about?” If you are feeling emotionally “itchy” this may be the time when your eczema flares. Lastly, consider whether you perceive yourself as a thin-skinned or thick-skinned person and the many skin complaints that may go along with these perceptions.
Finally, stress makes any condition worse and increases susceptibility to disease. When we are stressed, we are in sympathetic mode: heart racing, breathing heavy, not digesting. Our adrenal glands sit on top of our kidneys. They secrete a hormone called cortisol to buffer our stress response. When we are constantly stressed out, cortisol becomes depleted and we suffer many symptoms, including acne. Practicing relaxation techniques, meditation, or simply doing something we love can decrease our stress and “magically” improve our skin!