Healthy skin is the sign of a healthy body. When psoriasis, eczema, acne, and other common skin issues arise, it’s often because of poor gut health.
When a patient comes to me with skin issues, the very first thing we talk about is their digestion.
This may sound counterintuitive at first, but there is a strong connection between healthy skin and good gut health. We think of the skin on the OUTSIDE of the body, so we try topical creams or medications. But really, the root of the problem is INSIDE the body.
Even a specialist like a dermatologist will focus on the skin itself, and won’t typically address what’s happening in the body on the whole. This leaves people feeling frustrated and at a loss for what to do. They think that it’s hopeless – that a skin condition is just “something you have to live with.”
Let’s take a look at some common skin issues you might be having, so we can address the problem.
Skin Signals: Listening to Our Bodies
The amazing thing about our bodies is that they are always telling us what’s happening. All we need to do is listen.
A rash is the body speaking to us. It’s a signal that there’s something harmful interacting within our body.
There are (at least) two types of rashes that start on the skin (on the outside of our bodies):
- Contact Dermatitis: An allergic reaction caused by something we’ve come into contact with such as fabric, chemicals, or substance such as poison ivy or poison oak. This is common for people allergic to certain ingredients in lotions or other skincare and/or personal products.
- Skin Infections: Bacteria, viruses, yeast, fungus (tinea), mites, and/or parasites can cause skin rashes to occur. Staphylococcus bacteria (also known as staph) are normally present on our skin; however, if they get into a wound, they can cause more serious rashes and complications such as cellulitis, a deep, painful, and very serious infection of the skin.
Even though these infections are triggered by something on the outside of the body, stress exposure and intestinal permeability (leaky gut) increase your susceptibility to contact dermatitis and skin infections.
There are also rashes that are known to start from within our bodies, such as:
- Viruses: Think of chicken pox, and the itchy skin rash that comes with that virus. Other viruses, which are within in our body, can trigger rashes on the skin. Usually they last for a relatively short time – a week or two – and are caused by inflammation and the immune response to the virus.
- Allergies: Food allergies (IgE antibodies to foods) can cause skin rashes, such as hives, which are red blotches on the skin. Food sensitivities, which are more delayed food responses (IgA and IgG antibodies to foods) can also trigger or predispose to skin rashes, including eczema.
- Acne: While acne involves bacteria and/or mites in the skin follicle, acne is usually associated with hormone fluctuations, nutrient deficiencies, food sensitivities, histamine intolerance, and inflammation in general.
- Autoimmunity: There are autoimmune conditions that create skin rashes as one of many symptoms, such as lupus which causes a mask-like rash on the face. There are also autoimmune conditions that mainly cause skin rashes, such as psoriasis, which causes raised red patches, sometimes covered by white, flaky skin. Autoimmune conditions are triggered by stress exposure and the digestive issues it creates, such as intestinal permeability (leaky gut) and imbalanced gut bacteria.
By looking at these skin rashes and what creates them in the body, we can get a better understanding of what makes us susceptible to all skin conditions.
So if a patient comes to me, frustrated by a long-term skin condition – we start with a series of questions to understand the underlying causes.
Questions About Your Digestion and Stress Exposure
Here’s what I would ask you as a starting point:
- What foods are your eating regularly?
- How are you doing with digesting the foods?
- Are there any particular foods that seem to “disagree” with you?
- Are you experiencing any constipation or other irregularities?
- Has anything changed in your life (stresses?) or diet recently?
And then I would think through with you about whether:
- Could foods you are eating be causing inflammation in your body?
- Is the food you’re eating over-feeding the bacteria in your intestines and causing an overgrowth?
- Could your skin condition actually be a categorized as an autoimmune condition?
Take some time and ask yourself the same questions. Do you notice a difference in your skin when you digest a certain food? How about changes in mood or energy levels? Are you dealing with heartburn, bloating, and IBS on a consistent basis?
Again, I fully understand that from the outside looking in, these questions would never be expected from someone suffering from psoriasis or acne. As the largest organ in our bodies, however, our skin is a fantastic external indicator of when something isn’t balanced or working properly internally.
Food Allergy or Food Sensitivity?
In reading these signals, there’s one more important factor. How quickly is the body responding? To understand this, we need to first differentiate between a food allergy from a food sensitivity.
- Food Allergy: Caused by the IgE antibody that results in an immediate reaction in the nose, lungs, throat, or on the skin.
- Food Sensitivity: Conversely, you can experience a delayed reaction triggered by antibodies. There are two types to look for:
- IgA antibodies last for up to a week after you eat the food.
- IgG antibodies can last for three weeks.
Whether it’s food allergy or food sensitivity, either one can be triggered by the food you eat. But it’s extremely helpful to understand which antibodies are springing into action. This gives us a clue about the nature of the reaction – and which foods might be triggering it.
Skin Conditions From Food Sensitivities
If you’re consuming food that’s triggering inflammation in your digestion, that inflammation can cause new skin rashes or worsen existing skin conditions. Some of the most common ones that I see in patients are:
- Eczema: This is a patchy, itchy, and flaky skin condition as an immune response. It is the perfect example of a rash appearing on the skin because of something that is happening INSIDE the body.
- Psoriasis: Raised or thickened areas of patchy red skin that can occur all over the body. It can be painful and embarrassing and it is classified as a chronic autoimmune condition.
- Acne: This can last beyond your teenage years. “Adult acne” can be caused by stress, inflammation in the hair follicle, and dietary factors.
- Rosacea: Often triggered by diet, heat, stress, or skin care products. Rosacea causes redness in the face, as well as small, red, pus-filled bumps at times.
- Seborrheic dermatitis: Dandruff falls under this type of rash, but it can also occur on the eyelids, face, and other areas. It is known to be associated with food sensitivities and B vitamin deficiencies, including biotin deficiency.
Each of these can last for years if untreated – and can be made worse by the foods you eat. The root of the problem is almost always Leaky Gut. If this is new to you, you can learn more about it here: Leaky Gut: The Underlying Cause of Many Chronic Heath Issues.
In short, food that is not well-digested “leaks” into the body – outside the digestive system. To the body’s immune system, this food is seen as a “foreign invader.” The immune system mounts a response – inflammation. This gets the blood flowing to the area so that antibodies can do their work. This inflammatory response may start in and around the gut – but it can spread to anywhere in the body. And of course, that includes the skin.
So let’s get to the root of the problem. The solution to all this is to heal leaky gut.
Identifying the Root Cause of Your Skin Issues
Thankfully, there are three health panels you can do from home to help us understand what is going on inside your body. The results of these panels will give us the information about what exactly needs to be addressed.
- My first recommendation is an IgA and IgG food sensitivity panel which will test 48 to 96 most common foods. You can do this at home with my IgG & IgA Food Sensitivity Home Testing Kit. If you discover that multiple foods are causing inflammation, then we certain that leaky gut is the problem.
- A DNA panel of the gut bacteria (by way of a stool sample) can tell us what kind of bacteria is living inside of the gut and if there is too much or too little of the good bacteria your body needs.
- A breath test may be necessary, especially if you are experiencing a lot of bloating higher up in your digestive system. This may be an indicator of Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO).
Instead of guessing which foods to avoid, we start with the IgA and IgG food sensitivity panel. Why? It is essential to identify which foods are inflammatory for your body.
Starting a Food Elimination Protocol
Once we have identified which foods are causing the problem, then it’s time to verify it. This involves removing specific foods from your diet and observing your body’s reaction. If it gets better, we have confirmed a “trigger food.” If it stays the same, we keep looking.
How do you start? You remove 2 to 8 “identified” foods from your diet for at least 21 days. This is exactly why I designed the 21-day Stress Remedy Program. It includes an elimination diet to help you avoid the most common inflammatory foods – gluten, dairy, eggs, and soy.
Helping Your Body Heal
Natural supplements* can assist the body in getting everything back in balance, inside and outside. Here’s a good starting point for skin issues:
- Digestive enzymes – specifically pancreatic enzymes – help ensure that food is being properly digested.
- Glutamine can help fuel the small intestinal cells.
- Anti-inflammatory herbs and supplements such as aloe and deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) may help digestive issues.
- Dr. Doni’s Leaky Gut Support contains glutamine, DGL, aloe, as well as arabinogalactan to support good bacteria.
Getting Extra Help and Support
After you’ve done the IgA and IgG food sensitivity panel (order either ImmunoLab 96 or U.S. Biotek 48), and maybe even tried the food elimination protocol – you may still need some more guidance. There are a couple options for you:
1. Group Program ($)
Sign up for my Healing Leaky Gut Group Course. It includes the 48 food panel I recommend (above) PLUS support from me in group sessions and a one-on-one meeting. This will help you implement my protocol. Here’s some more info, and when you can attend the next LIVE version:
2. One-on-One ($$)
Meet with me by phone/video (or in-person too!) to guide you every step of the way. I have this all outlined in my Leaky Gut Solutions Program. Healing your leaky gut is a long journey that requires commitment and dedication, so it’s good to get personalized help.
Like so many of my patients, healing your gut will have a ripple effect on your health – in all the best ways. Once we get rid of the chronic inflammation in and around your gut, you’ll find positive changes in your mental and physical health. Improved mood, reduced anxiety, and more energy! Decreased pain and discomfort! It’s all possible when we address the root cause of the issue.
With all that’s going on in the world today, it’s my honor to help in whatever way I can. Good health is central to everything we do in life. It’s a gift to your body and mind to help yourself heal. And you deserve this.
All the best to you, as always!
14th May 2020
*Please keep in mind that any and all supplements – nutrients, herbs, enzymes, or other – should be used with caution. My recommendation is that you seek the care of a naturopathic doctor (with a doctorate degree from a federally-accredited program) and that you have a primary care physician or practitioner whom you can contact to help you with individual dosing and protocols. If you ever experience negative symptoms after taking a product, stop taking it immediately and contact your doctor right away.