Many often forget that the skin is the body’s largest organ, with the average person having roughly 300 million skin cells. Just like the gut, the skin has a microbiome that hosts five trillion bacteria. To put this into perspective, a galaxy contains about 100 million stars.
Unlike other organs, because the skin is easily seen, it is obvious when dysfunction occurs and abnormalities form. Wait! Before you run to purchase hundreds of dollars of skincare products, try digging deeper to discover any possible root causes. The two most common root causes include poor gut health and blood sugar imbalance.
Conditions such as eczema, acne and rosacea can all be linked to poor gut health. The gut’s microbiome works in synergy with the skin’s. According to a study done by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), this connection is “likely due to a combination of both neurologic and immunologic responses to environmental shifts, resulting in chronic systemic inflammation that can ultimately affect the skin.”
Along with poor gut health, imbalance in blood sugar can also lead to inflammatory issues in the skin. When blood sugar is imbalanced, the increased levels of insulin increase follicular hyperkeratosis which hinders the cells from normal turnover. This leads to inflammation and possibly acne. High insulin levels can also lead to skin tags and the darkening of skin folds.
Working with a practitioner that specializes in nutrition and root causes is imperative for proper skin protocol. Your microbiome and biology is unique, therefore the requirements for your skin will also be unique.
Aside from harnessing your body’s specific protocol, there are some general tips and tricks to achieve glowing skin by utilizing food and nutritional staples. It can take up to four to six weeks for your skin to completely turn over. This means that results will not be visible until the skin has a chance to rebuild and repair. Be patient, consistent and always seek help from a professional before beginning any protocol.
How to Get Glowing
- Hydrate: Water is the #1 nutrient deficiency in America. Dehydration can cause skin to lose its elasticity, leading to fine lines and wrinkles. Water is also necessary for flushing out toxins and removing excess waste from the body. Make sure to consume a minimum of half of your bodyweight in ounces of water every day (additional if you drink caffeinated beverages) to keep your skin healthy. (So, if you weigh around 150 pounds, try to drink at least 75 ounces of H2O each day.)
- Zinc: Zinc is a nutrient that is essential for the immune system response in the body. It plays a role in cell division, cell growth, wound healing and digestion. Consumption of foods rich in zinc can be helpful for gut health and improving skin health. Foods that contain zinc include red meats, poultry, oysters, cashews, almonds, mushrooms and garlic. In some cases, zinc supplementation might be needed. The most absorbable forms of zinc include zinc citrate, zinc gluconate and zinc bisglycinate chelate.
- Vitamin A: Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that creates healthy teeth, skeletal and soft tissue, mucus membranes and skin. It helps prevent breakouts, decreases skin inflammation and promotes overall skin health. Foods high in vitamin A include liver (this is the richest source of vitamin A and many other valuable nutrients), cod liver oil, fish, orange-, yellow- and red-colored vegetables, spinach and broccoli. Since vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin, this means you need to consume healthy fats so the nutrient can be absorbed during digestion.
- Healthy fats and protein: Having a balance of healthy fats and proteins along with fiber-rich carbohydrates can balance blood sugar. Consumption of balanced meals can combat inflammatory issues for the skin and body, while also providing sustainable energy.
While these nutrients are beneficial for long-term health and healing skin issues, it can take some time for them to work. When breakouts and eczema do pop up, there are some food-based items you can use right away to rebalance the pH.
Apple cider vinegar is not only beneficial for the gut and enhancing stomach acidity, but it can also be used topically to rebalance the skin’s pH. If you have a pimple, dab a little bit of apple cider vinegar on top to prevent the spread of bacteria. Same thing goes for small eczema patches. With eczema, you may also want to add a hydrating blend like coconut oil and essential oils. Forces of Nature has an eczema-specific herbal and essential oil blend that is a fantastic solution.
Struggling with skin dysfunction can be a challenging process. Helping your body heal on a consistent basis will pay dividends for your skin!
About the Author
Shannon Dolan is a functional nutritional therapy practitioner that focuses on the root cause of symptoms for optimal function. Her business, Health With Shannon, supports women on their health journey through hormonal balance and menstrual health. She also consults for corporations to help employees build resilience in career longevity.