Skin Woes, Brain Fog, Allergies, Your Gut Health Could Be Behind It All
Jun 17, 2022
Written by Apothékary's in-house naturopathic doctor and Certified Nutrition Specialist® Dr. Jessica Christie.
Why are so many people talking about gut health these days? As research continues to show, your gut reflects the health of your entire body!
A healthy gut can lead to healthy skin, healthy brain function, and a healthy immune system. This is all thanks to the microbiome—an entire ecosystem of microbes living within the intestines working synergistically with our bodies every second of every day. In fact, these microbes are so important that we couldn’t survive without them. They assist with digestion, they manufacture vitamins for us, they produce many neurotransmitters required for a healthy neurological system, and they help to protect us against pathogenic microbes (the bad bugs that make us sick).
The Unexpected Symptoms of an Imbalanced Gut
How do you know if you have gut issues? Sometimes it’s pretty obvious because the symptoms you have may look like traditional digestive symptoms such as excess gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, or heartburn. However, you may have symptoms that seem totally unrelated to the digestive tract.
For example, brain symptoms such as fatigue, brain fog, and poor concentration are all indirect symptoms of poor gut health. Skin symptoms like rashes, breakouts, and itching are also indirect symptoms of poor gut health. You may even feel symptoms that are related to your immune system, such as frequent colds or allergy symptoms like runny or stuffy nose, headaches, sneezing—and guess what, those are ALSO indirect symptoms of poor gut health. Your gut is truly running the show!
Skin, Mental Health, or Immune Condition? Look at the Gut.
When looking at the root cause of any condition, most holistic practitioners will tell you that most conditions are rooted in poor gut health. Specifically though, there are conditions that have a clear connection to gut dysbiosis, which can lead to microtears in the gut lining (commonly called leaky gut).
Gut conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Ulcerative Colitis, and Crohn’s Disease have an obvious relationship to poor gut health because the digestive tract is physically altered and injured. But other conditions are not as obvious.
If you’re looking to heal your gut lining, our 2022 Summer Inside Scoop box features our limited edition blend Float Your Bloat which helps heal the gut lining and is a rich source of prebiotics (which feed beneficial gut flora for a balanced microbiome)
We all have both beneficial and harmful bacteria within our microbiome at all times. However, in healthy individuals, there is a balance between them where the beneficial bacteria dominate the harmful bacteria and keep them in check. When the microbiome is imbalanced or disrupted (known as dysbiosis), we see the healthy microbes struggling to take charge and do their jobs well.
Where else does an imbalanced gut show up? Your skin. Skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, and acne are rooted in poor gut health. When there is dysbiosis present, the beneficial microbes are not digesting food as efficiently, so food is not being eliminated as quickly as possible. This can create a toxic environment. If the gut is not efficiently eliminated (if you aren’t having daily bowel movements), then those toxins created in the dysbiotic microbiome will have to get eliminated somehow, and oftentimes, that’s through the skin, which is an alternate organ of elimination. The pushing out of toxins through the skin can cause all sorts of skin eruptions and irritations like those mentioned above.
If you need some support to get things moving, try our blend Follow Your Gut or the herb triphala, which is best known for aiding healthy bowel movements.
Mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety are highly connected to the health of the gut because our gut is responsible for producing the majority of our neurotransmitters (chemical messengers between cells). In fact about 95% of our serotonin (which greatly influences mood) is manufactured in the gut—NOT the brain!
Immune Conditions, Allergies, and Sensitivities
Immune conditions occur when the gut becomes inflamed and irritated, which is often the result of poor diet, food sensitivities, and food allergies. When the gut becomes inflamed, it’s more likely to alert the immune system that there is an irritant present when you consume a food or toxin you’re sensitive to, and then it triggers an immune response to attack the invader responsible for the irritation. This irritation can also create microtears in the intestinal walls (also known as leaky gut) and allow particles of food, along with pathogenic bacteria and toxins, to enter into the bloodstream. When this happens, the immune system goes on full blast, and we can see food allergies, immune conditions, and even autoimmune conditions appear.
Five Gut-Supporting Habits to Add to your Routine
1. Chew your food!
- While this may sound obvious, most people don’t chew nearly enough and instead swallow larger chunks of food. We live in a fast-paced world and don’t give ourselves the time we need to slowly consume our meals. But when we don’t chew, we put an extra burden on our digestive tract to break down that food into smaller particles. So give your digestion a break, slow down, and CHEW!
2. Eat fermented foods
Fermented foods are nature’s homemade probiotics! And, eating fermented foods repopulates more diverse beneficial flora than probiotic supplements because each food that is fermented may carry different strains of microbes. Some great examples of fermented foods are: fermented veggies like sauerkraut or pickles, kimchi, kombucha, kefir, and yogurt. However, it’s really important to make sure that anything store bought is actually fermented! Look for signs on the label that say something along the lines of “raw,” “traditionally fermented,” or “unpasteurized.” Shopping locally is also helpful because items are usually made in the traditional ways and in small batches.
3. Eat prebiotic foods
Prebiotic foods essentially feed the good flora in your gut. Repopulating your gut with fermented foods is a great start, but you want to keep those probiotics happy, healthy, and well-fed. Some examples of prebiotics are bananas, onions, garlic, chicory root, mushrooms, asparagus, and dandelion greens. If you’re looking to incorporate an herbal blend with benefits, our limited edition blend Float Your Bloat contains burdock root and astragulus root, which are both rich sources of prebiotic fiber.
4. Stay hydrated
Hydration helps to keep things flowing and moving so that you can efficiently release your waste! The last thing you want when you are trying to improve your gut health is dried, hard stool sitting in your intestines. Drinking plenty of filtered water each day will significantly benefit your “transit time” from eating to pooping, making sure no waste is left behind.
5. Eat a variety of organic, plant-based foods
Eating organic food as much as possible helps reduce the amount of pesticides that are being consumed. Overconsumption of pesticides can kill off good bacteria and lead to dysbiosis. Food variety is also important for maintaining a variety of microbe strains within the gut. With a more diverse microbiome, the body will be more equipped to deal with different situations and make the gut more adaptable. Buying produce from a local farmers market is ideal because oftentimes the produce is organic, seasonal, and usually you can find vegetables and fruit that you wouldn’t find at the grocery store.
Want more in-depth info on healing your gut? Dr. Christie is teaching a two-week gut health reset program to support your gut-healing journey. Sign up for Gut Back on Track with Dr. Jessica Christie here.
To order our Summer Inside Scoop box, which is curated this season to support gut health with our limited edition herbal blend Float Your Bloat and aloe vera juice, click here. This box is only available for a limited time, so get yours soon.
About Dr. Jessica Christie
Dr. Jessica Christie is a naturopathic doctor and Certified Nutrition Specialist® who works with clients across the United States. She specializes in helping clients get to the root cause of their symptoms, while optimizing health and wellness through nutrition and natural protocols.
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