Why are some women blessed with glowing, healthy, blemish-free skin while others are constantly battling acne, rashes and plain old dull, lifeless skin? Certainly, PCOS sufferers top the list of women who deal with acne. In fact, the combination of irregular periods, severe acne and thinning hair is the classic combination that may lead to a diagnosis of PCOS.
Most of you may guess that your genetics or your hormones are at play. But in the majority of cases, your GI tract may play a bigger role than your genes or your hormones. It’s not so easy to have glowing skin or great hair if your intestinal tract isn’t healthy.
Your digestive tract absorbs nutrients to nourish healthy skin, hair and nails. But even more important is having the right balance of protective bacteria to lower inflammation and prevent harmful bacteria, viruses and parasites from taking over. So if you suffer from bad skin, thinning hair, and feeling bloated and gassy all the time, healing your gut can improve all three of these problems. For those of you with PCOS, take note that you can have digestive tract issues and not even know it if you don’t have symptoms of bloating, constipation, diarrhea, or heartburn.
Pimples and blemishes are often a sign of an unhealthy, imbalanced GI tract. Food allergies, food sensitivities and other food-related reactions can lead to bags under your eyes, pimples, rashes and dull-looking skin. If you are an acne sufferer, it is very likely that you have imbalances in your gut bacteria. This is often related to the balance of whole foods in your diet, versus how much sugary, processed, and artificial foods you eat. Women from indigenous cultures who consume little processed high carb, low nutrient value foods are known for NOT having acne.
SKIN RASHES and ECZEMA
If you suffer from skin irritations (like itchy, crusty, inflamed, scaly skin or hives) and can’t figure out the cause, look for inflammation in your gut. When your intestinal tract is inflamed you become more susceptible to allergic reactions to food, chemicals, environmental air pollutants and other exposures that occur in daily life. What you eat affects both your gut health as well as your hair, skin and nails. Loading up on colorful fruits and vegetables with high amounts of B vitamins, vitamin C and phytonutrients that fight against free radical damage is the first step to glowing skin and thick, shiny hair. Vitamin supplements alone will not do the trick.
Rosacea is a chronic skin condition that causes redness, flushing and small red bumps mostly on the face. It is often mistaken for acne, eczema or skin allergies. Studies suggest that rosacea is linked to inflammation and bacterial imbalance in the intestinal tract, and is often seen in patients with other digestive issues. Women with Crohn’s disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Celiac disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) often suffer from skin inflammation that improves when gut issues are resolved.
WHAT LEADS TO GUT BACTERIA IMBALANCE?
Bacterial imbalance, also known as dysbiosis, is a very common problem in developed countries. Any factor that leads to an overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria and a decrease in the amount of beneficial bacteria will cause dysbiosis. And remember that anything that leads to digestive issues will also create problems for you skin and hair. Common causes include:
- Lack of anti-inflammatory, nutrient-dense foods (like vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds)
- Lack of healthy fat intake (omega-3 rich foods like avocados, olives, olive oil, coconut oil, fatty fish, grass-fed butter)
- Sugar, processed foods, artificial colorings, additives, preservatives
- Alcohol intake
- Frequent antibiotic use
- Medications that harm good bacteria (NSAIDS like ibuprofen, acid reducing drugs, anti-depressants, pain relievers, birth control pills)
- Viral or parasitic infections
- Hormone replacement and oral birth control pills
- Medications that suppress your immune system (steroids, chemotherapy, drugs used to suppress autoimmune diseases)
- Radiation therapy
8 STEPS TO HEALThy SKIN AND HAIR:
1. Load up on dark green vegetables
Probably the most important food group for promoting healthy skin. Aim for 3-4 cups of leafy greens a day.
2. Eat foods high in omega-3s
Foods naturally rich in omega-3 fatty acids include dark green leafy vegetables, wild salmon, flax, organic free-range eggs, and nuts. Aim for 2 to 3 servings a day
3. Include vitamin A rich foods
Vitamin A is one of the most important nutrients to nourish great skin and reduce acne. You need a ton of vitamin A to rebuild your skin cells each day. Your body makes vitamin A from dark green, yellow, red and orange vegetables like spinach, carrots, yams, sweet potatoes and bell peppers.
4. Drink water
This is one of the best ways to detoxify your body and avoid constipation. Not pooping every single day leads to absorbing toxins that need to get out of your system. Aim for 64 ounces a day of filtered water. Avoid caffeine that can dehydrate you, avoid soda (diet or regular) AND the dreaded “grande, mocha latte, frappuccino pumpkin-spiced chai” beverages.
5. Avoid processed wheat products
Processed grains like wheat, rye, and barley are linked to problems such as bloating, rashes, acne and hair loss. Although “gluten-free” is a buzz word, the concept of avoiding processed food (i.e, not substituting a cookie for a gluten-free cookie, but instead choosing an apple or cut up veggies) will likely go a long way with your health. A 30-day trial of a no-processed food diet that excludes wheat, rye, and barley may turn around your symptoms of bloating and acne, and begin rebuilding thin, damaged hair.
6. Cut the sugar
Sugar directly feeds harmful bacteria and yeast in your digestive tract. Foods high in sugar trigger insulin release which is bad for your waistline and worse for inflammation! Just, don’t.
7. Watch the alcohol
Alcohol is a double whammy. It is a direct toxin to your skin, hair, and intestinal lining, AND it prevents your liver from getting toxins out of your system. More toxins in your body mean more toxins in your face and scalp.
8. Reduce cow’s milk dairy products
Studies show an increase in acne in people who eat a lot of dairy. Most dermatologists may not feel that way, but it’s worth doing your own test. Eliminate dairy for 30 days to see how your skin and tummy feel. Even if you are not lactose intolerant, it’s the protein in milk called casein that can create inflammation in your gut and lead to skin and stomach problems.
Rock your gut and skin health!
In our online PCOS Solution program we dive deeply into gut health, and give you step-by-step guides to troubleshoot and fix your gut, skin, AND hormone imbalances.