TGIF: Goodbye, Acne!

Most of us tend to believe that pimples are for kids. Not true. The average age of acne patients has now increased from 20 to 26 years old. Millions of adults are experiencing acne for the first time.

And acne rates are rising — contradicting the belief that this condition is caused by genes. Eight million people see the dermatologist every year for acne and millions more rely on infomercial products hawked by celebrities or over-the-counter products that total $100 million in sales every year. And healthcare costs for prescription acne treatment exceed $1 billion a year. Clearly, this problem, like so many chronic diseases in the 21st century, is increasing.

Why?

For the first time, studies show that many of the imbalances in the underlying keys to health are the real causes of acne — including your nutritional status, stress, toxicity, inflammation, and hormonal and gut imbalances. No matter what condition, disease, or health problem you face, the root causes can be traced back to the same underlying factors, because the body is one whole integrated system.

This includes your skin. The key to healthy skin isn’t just dealing with the symptoms — like lathering on potions and lotions, popping and pricking pimples, or taking antibiotics or strong liver-damaging medication.

There’s a better way.

Good Skin Comes from the Inside Out, Not the Outside In! People who eat more fruits and vegetables (containing more antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds) have less acne. A Poor Diet is Bad for Your Skin!

Skin health, and acne in particular, are tied strongly to diet:

  • Acne is caused by inflammation and oxidative stress
  • Traditional indigenous cultures have little acne, but as soon as they adopt a Western diet or SAD (standard American diet), they see increasing levels of acne.
  • Sugar raises insulin levels, which promotes the production of testosterone in women, and inflammation in general, causing acne.
  • Saturated and processed fats increase arachidonic acid levels and compete with omega-3 fats in the body, leading to more inflammation and acne.
  • Milk and dairy consumption is closely linked with acne (and many other skin and health problems) in part because of the hormones (including growth hormone) in dairy and because of the saturated fats.
  • High-sugar milk chocolate can increase acne by increasing inflammation, but dark chocolate does the opposite.

Nutritional Deficiencies Promote Acne:

  • Widespread nutritional deficiencies of zinc, omega-3 fats, and some anti-inflammatory omega-6 fats like evening-primrose oil promote acne, while supplementing with them can help boost immunity and reduce inflammation and acne.
  • A topical form of vitamin B3 (nicotinamide) can reduce inflammation and help acne.
  • Antioxidant levels are low in acne patients — especially vitamins A and E, which are critical for skin health.
  • People who eat more fruits and vegetables (containing more antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds) have less acne.
  • Certain foods have been linked to improvements in many of the underlying causes of acne and can help correct it, including fish oil, turmeric, ginger, green tea, nuts, dark purple and red foods such as berries, green foods like dark green leafy vegetables, and eggs.

Hormonal Imbalances Cause Skin Problems:

  • Hormonal imbalances trigger acne — and diet influences hormones like testosterone, IGF-1 (insulin-like growth hormone), and insulin, which promote acne.
  • The biggest factor affecting your hormones is the glycemic load of your diet (how quickly the food increases your blood sugar and insulin levels).
  • Eating omega-3 fats and fiber (to reduce testosterone in women), cutting out sugar (to reduce insulin), and using soy foods (to reduce toxic testosterone levels) help balance hormones. Exercise also helps improve insulin function.

Leaky Gut and Food Allergies Cause Acne:

  • Delayed food allergies are among the most common causes of acne. Foods like gluten, dairy, yeast, and eggs can be problems if you have a leaky gut.
  • Taking probiotics (such as lactobacillus) can improve acne.
  • Good bacteria from probiotics also take up residence on the skin, helping with acne.
  • I have seen serious cystic acne resulting from gut imbalances and parasites that resolve when the gut is fixed.

Your Brain Can Cause Acne:

  • Stress causes acne flare-ups.
  • Stress does this by causing increased inflammation and oxidative stress, raising cortisol, and depleting zinc, magnesium, and selenium, which help control acne.
  • Stress causes poor dietary choices.
  • You can manage stress through meditation, yoga, saunas, massage, biofeedback, aromatherapy, and more.

So getting healthy skin and clearing up acne truly depend on the optimal function of many of the core systems of the body — your nutritional status, your immune system, your gut, your hormones and your mind-body health.

I may seem like a broken record, but it’s true — biology is biology.

I hope you’ve learned more today about how getting to the roots of illness can help you uncover the source of your health problem, wherever you may find it — even in a pimple on your nose!

Source:

http://drhyman.com/blog/2010/05/19/how-to-get-rid-of-acne-pimples-and-other-skin-problems/

Leaky Gut Syndrome: A Gut Wrenching Tale

CareerWomanStomachCSP72dpiIt feels just like another one of those days you have been experiencing a lot lately. No matter what you eat, it seems to wreak havoc on your stomach: gas, bloating, and frequent trips to the bathroom have taken over your days, leaving you tired, irritable and wondering if this is never going to stop. 

Foods that you used to digest fine are now causing the most discomfort, and even if you just eliminated them from your diet, you’re are still not feeling relief.

With a discussion with your doctor, you might be subjected to a series of tests on your Gastrointestinal System (GI) and prescribed medication. But the symptoms still don’t go away, and instead just get worse.

Your stomach is trying to tell you that something is definitely wrong—and it just might be Leaky Gut Syndrome.

The foundation of good health lies in proper digestive function. All other health factors can be undermined if you don’t digest and absorb nutrients properly. Assimilation of vitamins, minerals, proteins and essential fatty acids from the foods you eat and the supplements you take is required for optimum health.

Because of the way our bodies are connected, inflammation in the gut can eventually lead to inflammation in the bones, heart, brain, or beyond, making osteoporosis, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, or other diseases you may have a genetic predisposition for even more likely as you age.

What is leaky gut?

Digestive stress can cause “Leaky Gut Syndrome,” in which the integrity of the intestinal lining is compromised and is no longer able to discern what should be absorbed into the blood stream and what is kept out. Molecules “leak” into the blood that should not be present, creating an overstimulation of the immune system, causing inflammation and tissue damage.

When food antigens “leak” into our blood stream, the immune system thinks they are foreign invaders and mounts an immune response that we experience as an allergic reaction. Yeast and bacteria can also “leak” into the blood stream and creating significant immune system activity causing it to weaken.

Beyond causing abdominal symptoms, leaky gut can cause symptoms throughout the body, including fatigue, joint and muscle pain, headaches and other symptoms. It can also cause gluten intolerance and allergies to foods that had never for been a problem.

What causes leaky gut?

So what causes leaky gut? Much still needs to be learned on the condition, but diet, chronic stress, certain medications and bacterial imbalance have been found to play important roles. Eating a diet high in refined sugar can lead to overgrowth of yeast species, which has been associated with leaky gut. Preservatives and chemicals in processed foods can damage the lining, as can the consumption of gluten – a protein found in wheat, rye and barley.

Chronic stress can lead to a weakened immune system, affecting your ability to fight off invading bacteria and viruses and worsening the symptoms of leaky gut. Medications like aspirin and non-steroidal anti inflammatories (NSAIDs), i.e. ibuprofen, that can damage the lining of your gut, as well as antibiotics that kill off your essential good bacteria are also associated with increased intestinal permeability. Excessive alcohol consumption, infection with parasites, radiation and chemotherapy can damage the lining of the intestine and are also risk factors.

In addition to bloating and digestive distress, leaky gut can have a combination of other symptoms, such as food allergies, chronic sinus infections, achy joints, fatigue, brain fog or unexplained rashes.

How can we treat it?

The Institute of Functional Medicine developed the Four “R” Program to treat those suffering with Leaky Gut Syndrome

1.    Remove: Undertake an elimination diet. To stabilize and soothe the digestive tract, it is recommended that stop eating common allergens, such as gluten, dairy, soy, and other disruptive foods for a minimum of 14 days, to determine if a food allergy is present.

2.   Re-inoculate: Rebalance your gut flora. To re-establishing microfloral (the good bacteria) balance throughout the GI tract, your Functional Medicine practitioner will prescribe a well-formulated re-inoculate probiotics and probiotic supplements. In addition, foods like bananas, pears, applesauce, well-cooked squash, and so on, will help build up your digestive system your way up before adding more fibrous fruit and vegetables later on.

3.     Repair: Rebuild your intestinal cells. Your Functional Medicine practitioner will also supplements to replace depleted essential nutrients and promote proper repair of the intestinal lining.

4.   Regulate. Once repair has restore your digestive system to health, it is crucial that you continue to avoid anything you notice to cause GI upset.

If you are experiencing a multitude of symptoms that seem to center around your stomach, contact your Functional Medicine Practitioner to test you for Leaky Gut Syndrome. It can be treated and in most case cured with proper diet, supplements and rest to repair the damage and restore health.