Skin diseases are getting increasingly common these days, ranging from acne, dryness to atopic dermatitis, rosacea, eczema, shingles, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE). If you are among this group of people, your gut holds a good answer to the skin challenge.

Skin is one of the biggest excretory organs – excretory meaning that it is one of the channels for excretion of waste through breathing and sweating. People normally only consider stools / urine as the only excreta from our body. Even so, how many of you have problems with your bowel movement (either too frequently or too infrequently, too loose or too hard, too little or too light colored). Do you know that our digestive tract is one of the biggest recycling factories in our body? What is not excreted gets recycled – can you imagine recycling food wastes over and over again – that’s like searching for any edible food in a garbage bin, that’s exactly what your body is trying to do, when your bowel is not moving regularly.

Tip #1: Bowel test with beet or corn kernel: if you don’t see them coming out after 12-24 hours, you have a sluggish bowel. If you see them in < 12 hours, you have an overactive bowel.

What gets recycled from sluggish bowel movements include metabolic wastes, toxins and water. Over time, the accumulation of wastes lead to fermentation and inflammation, like how food wastes turn bad in your garbage bin. Chronic inflammation is what most people faces today and that chronic inflammation can lead to hormonal imbalance and leaky gut. Leaky gut, in simplest term, means that the intestinal wall become porous and particles (undigested food, wastes or toxins) enter the bloodstream where they shouldn’t have. These “unwanted” particles then circulate in the body and your skin is one of the victims when your body tries to deal with all the “unwanted” metabolic wastes.

In fact, our digestive tract holds the answer to 80% of our immune system. Our immune system is the master in defending our body against pathogens and supporting nutrient metabolism and immunomodulation. There are about 40 trillion bacteria and most of them reside in our gut and 80% of them form the good bacteria that keep our gut flora healthy. Our body is constantly striking the balance preventing overgrowth of the bad bacteria. So, if you want healthy skin, help your digestive tract.

Tip #2: Bad bacteria feed on sugar (in particular refined sugar), refined starches and carbohydrates (all your bread and pasta). Good bacteria feed on fibers, vegetables and fermented food. These are also termed prebiotics, food that feed probiotics. Stop flourishing your bad bacteria with a healthy wholefood diet.

Apart from refined food feeding the bad bacteria, antibiotics is like an atomic bomb to your digestive tract. Yes, a bomb which literally means “blow it up”. Antibiotics kill all bacteria (good and bad) and since it takes years to build that healthy gut flora, any single dose of antibiotics mean it will take a long time to get back to the healthy state. And remember this: antibiotics don’t get rid of virus in colds and flus so don’t hope that antibiotics are the answer to viral infection. Just let your body do the work and stay away from antibiotics when you are under virus attack.

Tip #3: Fermented food can support restoration of the healthy gut flora so think about increasing your fermented food (like kefir, plain organic yogurt, naturally pickled vegetables, etc.) next time. Triphala (an Indian herbal combination) also balances the chemistry of the entire GI tract for healthy flora to flourish.

It takes time to build and rebuild healthy gut flora and the best wa y to do it is with quality wholefood! Your skin will glow with your healthy gut!