According to statistics over 80% of American’s struggle with acne. While the severity of the acne can differ, the fact of the matter is that a very large percentage of people today experience less than optimal skin. And despite the wide range of anti-acne protocols including dermatologist, mediations and over the counter ointments, the problems persist.
Why Conventional Acne Treatments Fail
While well intentioned, it turns out that most conventional treatments for acne are not only ineffective but in some cases make matters worse. Common treatments for acne include the use of benzoyl peroxide, antibiotics, and even medications such as Accutane. While they can offer temporary relief, most of the time the acne returns.
The fault in these treatments is that two core root causes of acne are being overlooked; inflammation and microbial diversity.
Although many of these treatments are actually produced and prescribed with the intent of killing off bacteria; they also make the mistake of killing off all bacteria, even the good ones.
While these therapies may kill off acne-causing bacteria, they also devastate the probiotic bacteria on the skin. Not just that, the use of anti-acne medications and antibiotics greatly disturb the balance of digestive tract, causing the immune system to weaken, ultimately making matters worse.
The good news, scientists are figuring out the details of how this all occurs, giving us great data on what we can do to heal acne at the root.
The Gut-Skin Connection
If you’re one of the 80% of people with any form of acne, there’s actually something that you can do about it to heal it once and for all – without creating a future imbalance or experience negative side effects of any type.
According to the ancient wisdom of Chinese Medicine, the skin is a reflection of the liver, the key organ in the digestive system. With the help of scientists, we now have the details of this relationship between our internal microbiome and the health of our skin.
A study released by the Journal of Investigative Dermatology discovered that the skin houses both “bad” bacteria and “good” bacteria. We know that the human gut houses hundreds of trillions of cells of bacteria, about 4 pounds’ worth to be exact. The pathogenic strains of bacteria were discovered to cause inflammatory related breakouts. Where the probiotic strains of bacteria served to protect the skin.
The basic breakthrough piece of data in this study was learning that not all bacteria cause acne, that actually some of them inhibit it. This is important information, given the fact that most conservative acne-treatments are based in the germ theory and goal of killing off all bacteria. What’s more is that the study revealed that there is one particular strain of bacteria which has a special role in protecting the skin.
The Skin’s Microbiome
The skin also has its own diverse ecosystem of both good and bad bacteria. And just like a healthy digestive system relies on a proper balance of good to bad microbes, so does our skin.
Both the gut and skin house bacteria and yeast, which are in direct communication with our immune system. If the bacteria become compromised, they communicate to the immune system, which can trigger inflammatory responses, resulting in redness, swelling, and acne. However, when our skin has a healthy balance of good bacteria and yeast, it is more resilient to stress and does not fire off chronic inflammatory responses.
It is important to know that the relationship between the immune system and bacteria is interconnected – they are not essentially one and the same but are in a strong two-way communication. The health of the immune system influences the health of the bacteria on the skin and in the gut. Likewise, the health of the bacteria living on the skin and in the gut influences the immune system.
Similar to the way the bacteria in the gut work, pathogens on the skin can damage the tissues and cause major inflammation. For example, leaky gut is caused by an overgrowth of pathogens which essentially end up eating holes through the gut lining. This can also occur on the skin when an overgrowth of particular bacterial occurs, causing the skin to become inflamed and damaged.
As mentioned, this isn’t necessarily new information – the practitioners of Chinese Medicine knew this and so did scientists from the 1930s. In fact, there are studies from 1930 that demonstrate how good gut bacteria on the skin and in the gut can help heal inflammatory skin disorders such as acne.
There is also recent research from 2008 which validates this data, confirming the interconnected relationship between the skin and the gut. The study found a strong correlation between those with acne and digestive troubles. Those who suffered from digestive issues such as constipation, heartburn, bloating or gas were 37% more likely to have acne.
3 Amazing Foods for Getting Rid of Acne
Given this research, the solution to beautiful, acne-free skin is to regulate the microbiome, a goal that can be achieved more readily with the help of diet. By healing the gut lining and saturating it with probiotic-rich foods on a regular basis, you can heal the inflammatory issues of the skin.
While there are many things we can do to improve the health of our immune system, digestion, and even microbiome, there isn’t anything as readily available and every day as changing what we eat.
The top three foods we recommend, and according to research, for healing acne from the inside out are going to be:
- Fermented Vegetables: Sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles and other lacto-fermented vegetables are a great way to flood your gut with anti-inflammatory nutrients, digestive enhancing enzymes and immune boosting probiotics. Aim for a quarter cup with each meal.
- Fermented Greens: Though more unconventional than the others, if you can, try to get your hands on some fermented chlorella or spirulina, two superfood algae that have powerful healing abilities. These algae are better absorbed by the intrinsic factor in the body than when raw. They are great for the skin considering their detoxification abilities, prebiotic constituents, and source of minerals and B vitamins.
- Fermented Beverages: Raw milk kefir, coconut kefir, beet kvass and other traditional fermented drinks are a great and delicious way to improve your gut health and heal acne for good. Try making these yourself with a simple starter culture, high-quality sea salt and your liquid of choice. Drink at least 4-6 ounces daily for a refreshing probiotic drink that will balance your microbiome, enhance digestion, and beautify your skin.
The Natural Path to Perfect Skin
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