It has been an astonishing learning journey for me to discover how various parts of the body function and how when systems are harmoniously in-tune with each other, we can flourish both mentally and physically. However, when these delicate systems are out of balance, the knock-on effects to health can be quite dramatic.
More so now than ever before, there is a tremendous amount of pressure and stress that goes hand-in-hand with every day life. Our bodies have evolved to cope with stress but can only be pushed so far before they begin to feel the strain. It is at this point that the symptoms of an over-worked system can begin to show externally in the form of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, weight gain, weight loss and skin problems for example.
Through my personal journey to cease using topical steroids and to heal the acne that I had spent a small fortune on trying to cure, I discovered that in order to rebalance my body, I needed to treat it from the inside. I sought the guidance of a registered nutritional therapist and kinesiologist to help in this quest.
She explained to me that the most significant factor in my recovery was to improve the health of my gut. A strong and healthy gut equates to a strong and healthy body. As I subsequently discovered, not only does a healthy gut promote a healthy body, it is also the most significant factor in maintaining a healthy mind.
How is a healthy gut achieved? What does it mean?
Our gut plays host to many millions of bacteria, both good and bad. When in balance and the gut is performing optimally, these bacteria co-exist quite comfortably. However, if the host has to take a course of antibiotics (which will eradicate both the good and the bad gut flora) an imbalance can occur which will inevitably see the bad bacteria outshine the good. In this instance, the gut is placed under an immense amount of stress and the cells of the wall lining can become inflamed without the protection of the bacteria. Once inflammation occurs, the gut lining can develop larger gaps than usual between the cells and becomes more permeable to larger molecules of undigested food. When these larger molecules enter the blood stream, an immune response occurs within the body which can lead to all types of skin ailments and other physical symptoms too. This is technically known as ‘gut permeability’ or ‘leaky gut’ – the health ramifications of which can be multiple and far reaching, if left untreated.
It is not just antibiotics that can cause leaky gut; stress is another major contributor as too is a poor diet. Sugar is considered the main culprit for exacerbating this problem as it feeds the bad bacteria contained within the gut allowing them to become more prolific than the good bacteria. To redress this imbalance, it is advisable to eliminate sugar from the diet. This will give the good bacteria a chance to repopulate, reducing the symptoms of leaky gut by becoming less inflamed and allowing the gut lining to heal.
An additional way of supporting the gut in its healing process, and get it back to its normal function, is to introduce probiotic capsules into your daily regime. Probiotics, specifically in my case, Bioacidophilus, seemed to be the most effective. It contains two main strains of friendly bacteria required in the gut for healthy balance and function. Taking probiotics is especially beneficial after a course of antibiotics, as it will repopulate the gut and help to regain balance.
Another contributory factor to maintaining good gut health is sufficient hydration. It is integral for assisting the organs in the elimination process and it helps to flush toxins from the body. When the water bar is too low, elimination will be slowed-down which can lead to hormones and toxins being reabsorbed from the large intestine back into the bloodstream. When there is sufficient water entering the system the gut can eliminate more efficiently, the organs are free to function without being under stress (of re-absorption of hormones and toxins), the skin is clearer and the mind can function properly.
Alongside trying to lead a stress-free life, drinking plenty of water and maintaining friendly gut bacteria, the linch-pin of all of these factors is to eat a varied and balanced diet full of clean, nutritious foods. Fibre is paramount as it aids the elimination process as too are raw vegetables and fruit. When the diet is nourishing and clean, the body will respond by giving copious amounts of energy, a clear mind, a lean and healthy body and the impetus to want to continue to feed it with delicious and nutritious foods.
I am so passionate about this subject because I have personally lived through how amazing the body can be once the gut is able to work at its best. For many years I was prescribed various courses of oral antibiotics to treat acne (which resulted in a skin condition called Sebhorreic Dermatitis). I was also given two bouts of Roaccutane, a heavy-duty last resort drug prescribed to treat persistent, stubborn acne. I had no idea of the lasting effects that this was having on my system. Then to add 4 years of topical steroid cream use to the mix, my body was crying out for some relief. I changed my diet and introduced a variety of supplements recommended to me by my nutritional therapist. My gut became stronger and the skin ailments disappeared. I also became stronger in my mind, true testament to the power of eating healthily.
I am not a trained nutritional therapist, I speak from experience and the knowledge I have is from the research I did during my recovery. I am a firm believer however that gut health is the single most important factor in maintaining a healthy body and mind. I nourished my gut with lots of delicious and nutritious foods and in return, I have been blessed with clear skin that is now free from acne and Sebhorreic Dermatitis. I shall continue to eat a clean diet, supplement with probiotics and drink plenty of water because after 20 years of seeking an answer to help cure my skin, this is the only thing that has worked and continues to work.