By now I’m sure your googling has revealed to you that there is in fact a gut/skin connection. If you are suffering from issues in your gut, chances are your skin is also suffering.
How Do You Hurt Your Gut In The First Place?
You’re going to hate this answer, but here goes: grains.
The main reason you experience gut issues is because you eat grains. Grains are a very cheap ‘food’, and a cheap commodity. They’re easy to store, and therefore are convenient to sell. That’s why most grocery stores are overflowing with baked goods, crackers, breads, rice, pastas…
You’ll notice that most restaurants will have a huge serving of rice or pasta, some protein, and very little vegetables in most dishes. This is because grains are SUPER cheap and last forever – not because they provide any kind of nutritional value.
At first, it might be hard for your to accept that grains are bad, I know it was for me. I grew up on pirogies and bread, and later pop tarts, pasta, and cookies…I ate grains thinking they were good for me until I started seeing some compelling research.
Grains are not healthy and here’s why.
Grains have changed – they are not what they used to be. This is especially true for wheat. Wheat is heavily genetically modified in North America which yields a list of consequences…
NEW IN 2017!
Wheat today contains:
- More Gluten
Why is gluten vilified? Gluten contains a protein called Gliadin that expresses a gene called Glia-alpha9 which is the strongest trigger for celiac disease. It’s present in almost all strains of wheat, and is responsible for a 400% rise in celiac disease since 1948.
- Resistant Lectins
Genetic modification also changed the structure of lectin in wheat called Wheat Germ Agglutinin (WGA) meant to protect the wheat from molds, fungi, and insects.Today WGA is completely indigestible and completely resistant to breakdown even at high temperatures. WGA is indestructible and is immune to stomach acid! It’s also toxic. You and I don’t need to be celiac or even have a gluten sensitivity in order to experience the celiac-like intestinal damage caused by WGA.
WGA also blocks the hormone leptin, responsible for a feeling of satiety after eating. That means that you end up overeating because WGA prevents you from feeling full. That’s exactly why I could easily devour AN EXTRA LARGE PIZZA by myself in one sitting and still WANT MORE.
- More Phytates
The greater the fiber content, the greater the amount of phytates in the grain. Wheat, maize, and millet all contain phytates. Phytates are ok in small quantities, but most people don’t eat grains in small quantities.Research shows that 50mg of phytates a day is enough to stop mineral absorption – especially that of zinc, iron, magnesium, and B12. The average child consumes from 600-1900mg of phytates a day. This results in major nutrient deficiencies across the board.
What About Healthy Whole Grains?
There’s no such thing as healthy whole grains. Whole grains were the agro-business’s answer to encourage people to eat more grains. Whole grains are definitely slightly healthier than white flour, but they aren’t healthier than consuming no grains at all.
If that isn’t enough, grains suck for another HUGE reason. Grains are primarily carbohydrates that are rapidly digested and spike blood sugar. This process is called glucotoxicity, and results in the damage of delicate pancreatic beta cells that produce insulin.
Not only do grains raise blood sugar, they do so at a HIGHER rate than plain table sugar. Even corn spikes blood sugar like crazy – because it’s technically a grain.
The consequences of consuming grains:
- insulin resistance (leading to diabetes)
- skin problems like acne, eczema, seborrhea
- leaky gut
- autoimmune conditions
- nutrient deficiencies (like zinc, iron, b12, and magnesium)
- mood disorders, anxiety, depression
Progressive health experts all agree that people should stop eating grains. In fact, if I hear a nutritionist or ‘health expert’ recommending whole grains, I know right away that I can’t trust their expertise.
Dear God, Is Rice Okay?
Rice is definitely less bad than wheat, but less bad is not good. It’s like saying a woman is less pregnant…She’s either pregnant, or she’s not.
Not to disappoint you further, but rice is also a grain that comes with its own list of consequences. Rice, along with rye and barley, also contain lectins called WGA which is toxic and indestructible. See above.
What’s more is that rice is special in that it’s able to concentrate inorganic arsenic from soil and water. Prolonged arsenic exposure is linked with high blood pressure, neurological disorders, and increased mortality – no bene.
These health concerns can manifest with as little as 1 serving of rice a day. So if you’re going to eat rice, then eat it infrequently and in tiny servings.
Annoyingly, most gluten-free products contain rice – so read your labels and try to find gluten-free alternatives with buckwheat (a seed), quinoa, chickpeas, peas, lentils, or almonds.
Food Sensitivities and Leaky Gut
I noticed that when I ate certain foods, especially pasta, bread, and other baked goods – I felt bad. I got mood swings, irritability, cysts, migraines, constipation and/or diarrhea.
It wasn’t pleasant.
I decided to get tested thoroughly to better understand why my body was behaving the way it did. I thought that I might have a gluten sensitivity, while my naturopath thought I might be celiac because I was anemic (prolonged low iron levels).
Lo and behold, my 200 food sensitivity test revealed that I was in fact sensitive to gluten, as well as other foods that I didn’t even consider: almonds, corn, peanuts, barley, flax seeds, egg whites, milk, wheat, gliadin, potato…And many more.
I was unknowingly ingesting foods that were causing my body to have an IMMUNE reaction.
My naturopath told me that I had leaky gut – that my intestine was permeable and allowing certain things to pass through into my bloodstream. So every time I ate almonds or wheat, my immune system was responding. Because you know what? Almonds and wheat are not supposed to be in the blood stream.
Why did I have leaky gut? Because gliadin and related prolamins (in other grains) cause direct toxic inflammatory effects on the gut that can increase it’s permeability. Again, you don’t need to have any sensitivities for gliadin to increase inflammation and permeability of your gut.
My leaky gut also explained why I was iron deficient. No matter how much iron I took, my iron levels stayed frightfully low. As mentioned above, grains impair mineral absorption and can lead to full on deficiencies!
Leaky gut was also responsible for a lot of inflammation…Which I mentioned as the root of acne and inflamed pimples.
So food sensitivities were a sign that my gut needed healing. Again, you don’t need to be celiac or have a gluten sensitivity to get Leaky Gut.
How To Heal The Gut
Let’s talk all about healing the gut for clear skin, and waaaaaaay better health.
Food sensitivities are hard to spot – sometimes your body might be having an immune reaction without any outward symptoms. But I consider acne a glaring sign that something is definitely off…
I recommend seeing a naturopath and finding out your food sensitivities. A blood test is easier than having to eliminate all foods and reintroduce them into your diet slowly via an elimination diet.
Then you have to stop eating the foods that cause an immune reaction in your body for 6-12 months depending on the severity of the reaction, and then get tested again to see if the food sensitivities went away – because if you heal your gut, then they should.
Then try to eliminate all grains from your diet, replacing them with healthy proteins, veggies, and fats. It’s actually easier than it sounds to eliminate grains – especially with tasty alternatives like chickpea pasta or sweet potato.
You’ll also need to restore bowel flora because grains actually make bad bacteria grow…So you might want to consider taking a good quality, multi-strain probiotic to feed your gut with healthy bacteria. Fermented foods are also great for this, so consider making kimchi and sauerkraut regulars in your kitchen.
You can also maintain healthy bowel flora and reduce inflammation with a prebiotic like acacia gum fiber. It’s a powder that turns into a clear, gel-like, tasteless liquid that feeds the good bacteria in your gut.
Finally, you’re going to need to correct nutrient deficiencies caused by grain consumption and leaky gut. Start taking quality zinc, iron, and b12 supplements, and don’t forget about vitamin D too!
I supplement with an amino acid called L-Glutamine – the cells lining the intestine use glutamine when it’s available, and it helps prevent injury to the intestinal lining and accelerates healing. It’s always recommended in the case of leaky gut.
The gut is such an incredible organ. It is known as the ‘second brain’ where it’s responsible for the production of serotonin. Actually, 3 times more serotonin is produced in the gut than in the brain. Serotonin is responsible for a balanced mood…
When you’re feeling low, don’t take it personally. There may be nothing wrong with YOU, but there can be something terribly wrong with your food choices and your gut.
A friend of mine had severe cystic acne, and she did everything right…Except she wouldn’t give up grains. I championed her to give them up for months until she gave in, resulting in CLEAR SKIN. Her skin today is as clear as mine.
I challenge you do give up grains for at least a month, just to see what would happen. Then reintroduce them into your diet and see how you react. That’s the best way to see how grains really affect you.
Gut healing is no small feat. It can take MONTHS, but it’s worth it.
Ultimately, a happy gut means a happy you, and a healthy gut means a healthy you. Make sure that you are looking after this beautiful organ. If you do, then your skin will thank you.