The Truth Behind Your Skin Breakouts

Let me just get right to the point of this whole article in the first sentence: the health of your skin is 100% dependent on what’s going on in the rest of your body.  If you are someone who deals with acne, rashes, hives, keratosis pilaris, itching, dry patches, eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, discolorations, or premature aging, your skin is telling the story of something else going on within you, something potentially much more serious.

I have always had trouble with my skin.  From the time I began menstruating, I would get cystic acne on my chin at the same time every cycle.  It was frustrating and embarrassing.  Even from that young age, I knew it was connected to my hormones, but I always just thought it was something I would have to deal with.  Fast forward 20+ years and for the first time ever, just this past year, I finally found the root cause of my hormonal issues, spent the time necessary healing them, and I haven’t had a zit since!

Around these same teenage years, I began my countless years of dieting.  Subsequently, I also developed keratosis pilaris on the back of my arms and inner thighs.  Again, I assumed these tiny little annoying bumps were just part of life.  Little did I know then that my diet was to blame.

My skin saga continued several years later.  Within several months of being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis back in 2008, I also dealt with an eczema breakout.  At the time, I didn’t put the two together and just separately treated each SYMPTOM.  I now know that the eczema breakout and the development of an autoimmune disease are very much connected and were signaling something important that I failed to listen to then.  This led to many more years of health issues down the road for me until I finally listened and corrected the underlying issue.  What was the underlying issue?  My gut.  I had to heal my gut in order to both put my autoimmune disease into remission and heal my eczema once and for all.

Let’s look further into the real culprits of skin conditions.

Leaky Gut

Many skin conditions are actually symptoms of impaired gut health and food sensitivities.  When a leaky gut is present, undigested food particles slip through the gut wall lining and out into the bloodstream.  Once in the bloodstream, the immune system sees these foods as invaders and puts up a fight, causing both an immune response and inflammation.  Now, every time you eat that food, which could be something as ‘safe’ as lettuce, that response takes place in your body.  Because the skin is our largest organ and also a route of detoxification, these responses will often show themselves through skin eruptions.  This could be in the form of rashes, an acne breakout, an allergic response like hives, or in a more serious condition such as rosacea, eczema, or psoriasis.

How to keep breakouts at bay?  Heal your gut.  While this is not easy, the process is actually quite simple.  First of all, you need to find out WHY you have a leaky gut in the first place.  This could be from the current or past use/abuse of prescription medications, stress, poor diet, compromised digestive function, bacterial or fungal overgrowth, or low stomach acid.  The only way to really determine the health of your gut is with functional lab testing of the GI tract.  Once you find out what the culprit is within the GI tract, you need to address and heal your specific issue in order to make it possible for your gut to function optimally and healthfully.

Not only do you need to address the dysfunction in your gut, but you also need to remove the foods that are causing the immune response and corresponding inflammation.  This is different from person-to-person, so many times an elimination diet won’t be enough.  This is when finding out your specific food sensitivities is a really important step that can’t be overlooked.

Putting this information together, you can pinpoint and address your body’s unique needs and healing opportunities, thereby creating a simple solution to both your gut and skin issues.

Hormonal Imbalance

As I mentioned in my own personal story, a hormonal imbalance is often to blame for acne breakouts.  It is a good bet that hormones are the culprit if the acne is cyclic in nature, appears around the chin, mouth, and jawline, and has more of a cystic, deep, painful quality.  If you rely on hormonal birth control to keep your breakouts under control, that’s a huge sign that an underlying hormone issue is the primary factor.

Hormonal imbalances are very common and again primarily caused by stress, prescription drug use (hormonal birth control especially), gut health, unresolved emotional issues, disordered eating, low body weight, and many other chronic stressors.

Until you know what YOUR hormones are doing, it will be a crap shoot to try to heal and balance them. Continuing to just deal with it and hope it eventually goes away isn’t going to get you anywhere.  Relying on prescription drugs, harmful topical treatments, and random food eliminations will only provide a temporary cover up.  Looking deeper into the state of your hormonal balance will finally provide the answers you have been searching for in order to clear up your hormonal acne.  Common imbalances that show up on the skin are estrogen dominance, PCOS, high testosterone, high or low cortisol, and/or high DHEA.  Once you have the knowledge of what’s going on in your body, rebalancing can happen!

Nutrient Deficiencies

The food supply of today’s world makes it easy for nutrient deficiencies to take hold with the wide availability and convenience of processed, packaged foods and the poor nutrient density of the mass produced, improperly raised produce and meats.  Add to that the overabundance of food restriction by dieting, and we have a real problem.  There are particular nutrients that are known to be very beneficial for skin health that are commonly absent or depleted in our diets.  Some of these include vitamin A, vitamin D, zinc,and vitamin C.  By replenishing these lost nutrients in the body, you will provide your skin with the nutrients it needs to repair, anti-inflame, regenerate, and stay hydrated.

There is an easy and delicious potential solution to some of the most common skin woes!  It doesn’t have to be complicated.  Eat a very balanced diet with LOTS of food and a good variety of organic vegetables, organic, pasture-raised meats and dairy (if tolerated), and fats from high quality sources.  Sneak in some organ meats and bone broth too!  Drink sufficient water when thirsty or sweating and add some high-quality sea salt to your water for added mineral balancing.  Supplementation of these nutrients can be beneficial too, but make sure to get as much as you can from food sources first.

It can get a little more complicated when you’re ALREADY doing this and still having issues.  In that instance, it’s time to look back at the gut.  If you’re eating plenty of nutrients, but still having signs of nutrient deficiencies, there’s a strong chance you aren’t actually digesting and absorbing those beneficial nutrients!  By looking into your digestive function and resolving the issue at hand — whether it be low stomach acid, insufficient bile production, lack of digestive enzymes, or a bacterial/fungal infection — skin issues will resolve themselves quite quickly as nutrients are replenished.    

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