Heal your gut, heal your skin

Using nature to heal your gut and improve your skin

On my 14th birthday, my parents gave me a book called Feed Your Face by Diana Binchin. The book is no longer in print. In fact, when I Google it, it’s nowhere to be found.

The book included a number of recipes made from natural ingredients, full of the nutrients that are great for your skin.  It sparked an interest in me as the recipes used what nature provided, and I’d already learned quite a lot from my herbalist grandfather about how herbs, plants and other natural substances can treat and prevent illness, and promote healing.  I think my parents felt a bit sorry for me because my grandfather was always making up creams to help reduce my teenage spots – I hasten to add that the creams were a dirty grey colour, and didn’t smell of lavender and roses!  Perhaps they thought that a book aimed at young women, using nature’s bounty would be more suitable for me. At that time it was, although I long to speak to my now long-dead grandfather about all things natural, healing, and herbal.

I still have the ‘Feed Your Face’ book.  Its pages are now yellow and dog-eared, though I continue to look at the recipes; including one for a face mask made out of honey and oats, and one for using vinegar as a hair rinse/tonic. You can see that women have been turning towards nature to help heal their skin and improve their hair and nails for a long time. 

Are organic skincare products the answer to clear skin?

Although the recipes in my book will help, there is much more to keeping your face free of spots, boils, eczema, etc., than putting on a hot poultice of oatmeal flour. The health of your skin is also very much connected to the health of your gut.

The skin expresses inflammation that often originates in the gut. You can put the most expensive creams on your skin to help with spots, eczema, rosacea and psoriasis, but you must first fix whatever digestive and gut imbalances you have otherwise your skin will never improve. I’ve known, for the best part of my 27+ year-long complementary medicine career, that the causes of most skin diseases are to be found in the gut.

The best way to resolve the problem is to look within – clean, heal and repair and restore the gut, and re-establish a balanced immune system.

How do you fix your gut?

All good therapists will have their own tried and tested protocols. These generally including looking at diet and introducing key supplements like probiotics, digestive enzymes, omega 3 essential fatty acids and anti-microbials to help restore balance to the gut.

To start my patients on their skin healing journey, I recommend they follow these ‘four Rs’:

1. Remove stressors, irritating foods and drink, including processed foods, high-sugar, caffeine and alcohol and pathogens such as yeasts, parasites, and ‘bad’ bacteria.

2. Replace all the good stuff that was lost. This includes taking Digestive Enzymes that are necessary to help with the proper digestion of food, absorption of nutrients and elimination of wastes. If you’re not eating oily fish at least 3 x weekly I would also recommend a high-strength Omega 3 capsule daily.

3. Reintroduce the good bacteria. After you remove the stressors and introduce enzymes, it’s time to recolonise with beneficial bacteria. Repopulating your gut with multi-strain live beneficial bacteria can go a long way in improving the health of not just your skin, but your entire body.

4. Repair the lining of your gut. You can do this by drinking bone broths, taking l-glutamine or marine collagen supplements.

If you want to try making your own bone broth, I have a meat one, a fish one, a vegetarian one and a vegan one.  They are part of my 7-day gut-healing recipe plans which you can download by clicking on the top left image on the page this link takes you to.

Your body has a sophisticated way of eliminating toxins that involves the liver, kidneys, bowels, skin, and lungs. Only when these organs are healthy can they effectively eliminate unwanted substances.

This is why I often recommend regular internal cleansing to help the body more efficiently eliminate toxins and waste. 

How do you cleanse the inside of your body?

The starting point of an internal cleanse should always be the bowel. You need to get the main waste disposal chute working optimally so the body can eliminate what is released from the liver, kidneys, lymphatic system, and so on.

The next stages of cleansing include adjunctive measures such as skin brushing, using saunas and steam rooms, having remedial massage and/or manual lymphatic drainage massage, then carrying out a cleanse of the liver and kidneys, using specific herbs.  I will be covering the subject of organ cleansing and whole-body detoxification in January, when I dare say most of us will really need it!

Once you begin healing and repairing your gut, you will notice a reduction in stomach pain and bloating, as well as more regular bowel movements.  Take a photograph of your face before you begin any gut healing protocol, and then take one afterwards, and compare the two.  I think you will be very surprised. You will literally look years younger.

What else can I do to heal my gut?

I’d also recommend the following gut healing measures:

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Try to ensure your fibre intake is at least 30g per day
  • Include healthy fats in your diet – fatty cold-water fish (e.g. mackerel, herring) rich in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids are crucial for skin health.
  • Eat a wide variety of brightly coloured fruits and vegetables, including plenty of prebiotic vegetables, like onions, leeks, and garlic, as these are packed full of important antioxidants crucial for healthy collagen production
  • Eat fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, miso
  • Make an appointment for a colon hydrotherapy treatment with a registered therapist (you can find one here: www.colonic-association.org or www.conic-association.net)
  • Take supplements. If you want clear, healthy skin you need to start from the inside – gut first – and establish the right balance between good and bad bacteria.  Taking supplements that support and maintain healthy ‘internal skin’ will go a long way towards establishing a positive impact on your ‘external skin’. Take one of my Live Bacteria capsules twice daily, before breakfast and before bed, with a small glass of water.
Just for tummies live bacteria probiotic capsules
My Just For Tummies Live Bacteria capsules
  • Have a facial – finding a good facialist shouldn’t be overlooked.  I’ve always had facials. When it was younger I used to do my own, but now it’s more of a treat.  I go to two facialists, one steams my face and carries out extractions; the other gives me a more relaxing treatment. If you have blackheads and whiteheads, you are more likely to get breakouts on your skin until these pores have been cleaned out and closed.

In addition to healing the gut and treating your skin from the inside, there are ways you can help your skin from the outside too:

  • Make sure you are getting enough Vitamin D – it can only be synthesised in the presence of sunlight, so when there isn’t a lot of sun around you need to take a supplement. However, there is a caveat with this. When out in the sun, always use a high factor sun cream.  I use Factor 50 and a total sunblock on my nose and forehead.
  • Saunas, body brushing with a natural bristle brush and taking Epsom salts baths
  • Slow down! Activating your parasympathetic (rest and digest) nervous system(PNS) will help your digestion tremendously. Intestinal activity and blood flow to your intestines is increased when your PNS is activated. You can do so by taking a few deep breaths before meals, eating slowly, and trying to relax into your body. Your body knows how to digest, try not to let your mind get in the way.
  • Chew your food! Ideally, you want to chew your food at least 30 times before you swallow. Digestion starts in the mouth – the enzyme amylase, which is in your saliva, starts to break down the carbs in your food before they enter your stomach. When you chew, your brain signals your stomach and pancreas to get ready to release more digestive enzymes to break down the food once it enters your small intestine. If your pancreas doesn’t receive this message, not enough enzymes will be secreted. Simply put: chew your food well and give your body a fair chance at absorbing all the nutrition.
  • Sleep!  The skin health benefits of sleep cannot be under-estimated.  Aim to get at least 8 hours of sleep each evening.
  • Laugh. A lot!  Laughter strengthens the muscles of the face, giving you a natural facelift.

When you follow my protocols to repair your gut, your symptoms (or a lack of them!) will the strongest indication of whether or not your gut is healthy.  Once your gut begins to heal, you will likely see your skin issues begin to subside as well.

The condition of your hair and nails should also improve, as your digestive system and gut are able to absorb more nutrients.

In addition, your energy and vitality will increase, along with better mental clarity and an improved mood.  You may find that you’ve returned to your ideal weight, and you feel like your old, and best, self again.