Are you someone who suffers from acne — perhaps on your face, on your back, even on your arms? Maybe you’ve had it since puberty and still have not resolved it.
We’re going to dive into the gut-skin axis today and some of the reasons why you need to look inside as opposed to simply just putting on things on the outside — from a logical standpoint — or even taking medications to reduce it.
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What you need to know about acne
As it relates to the gut-skin axis, referring to the gut microbiome and its influence on the skin, we want to remember that our gut is 70 percent of our immune system. Therefore, inflammatory skin disorders can be associated with dysbiosis in the gut.
Acne vulgaris presents as follicular hyperkeratinization, increased sebum production, and Propionibacterium.
Now we’re going to dive into nine root causes of acne that are definitely worth exploring in your journey to resolving this.
9 causes of acne
1. Hormonal changes
Acne will often present itself during puberty initially, but it can also present in things like PCOS, polycystic ovarian syndrome. We want to recognize that any kind of hormonal imbalance can contribute to this, so diving into why you are having hormonal imbalances is imperative.
2. Increase insulin and insulin-like growth factor
This can ultimately increase the pathogenesis of acne vulgaris and affect how follicular inflammation occurs. It is important to recognize that things like the regulation of blood sugar and, of course, how we eat throughout the day can influence acne.
3. High glycemic diet
This is often associated with our Western or Standard American Diet or SAD diet. Increased processed foods and increased sugar-rich foods can contribute to an environment where acne can flourish because it increases sebum production.
4. Alterations to the gut microbiome
This can present as intestinal dysbiosis, an imbalance of bacteria in the gut, SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), leaky gut (intestinal permeability), and other conditions, all of which can create inflammation systemically and contribute to acne.
Remember, 70 percent of our immune system is in our gut in the GALT (gut-associated lymphoid tissue), so dysbiosis can drive inflammation anywhere in your body.
5. Increased levels of linoleic acid
When we think about our ratio of omega-3s to 6, we often have way more 6s than the 3s. It’s not that omega-6s aren’t important. We just need an optimal balance.
Vegetable oils like peanut oil, corn, and palm oil in processed foods can contribute to advanced glycolytic end products which increase oxidative stress and inflammation, thereby potentially increasing acne.
6. Whey protein
This is really common! One of my number one things to explore immediately with anyone suffering from acne: whey protein. Whey is found in our dairy products, and whey can be a big trigger for acne. It doesn’t mean it is for everyone, but it is absolutely worth doing a formal elimination diet of dairy at the minimum and then reintroducing it to see if it is one of the drivers for you.
7. Low stomach acid
It’s estimated that approximately 40 percent of people that suffer from acne have low stomach acid. This can contribute to how we are breaking down proteins specifically, which is very common.
8. Nutrient deficiencies
Deficiencies in essential fatty acids, vitamin A, E, zinc, B6, and selenium can contribute to acne. It’s very important to do a nutrient analysis to determine how much of each nutrient you are getting on a daily basis.
We are exposed to so many toxins on a regular basis. Dioxin is one of the toxins that is
considered a persistent organic pollutant that can contribute to acne. We do want to factor in other environmental exposures as well.
In summary, when dealing with acne, look beyond Accutane and topical solutions. Assess your gut-skin axis.
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