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Our skin is our largest organ, but how on earth do we actually look after it?

Our skin is our largest organ. It protects us from the environment and also helps to detoxify our body. There are many health imbalances that can cause skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and acne. All of these conditions have similar causes of inflammation and an altered gut microbiome.

The gut microbiome is made up of a balance of good and bad organisms that live on the inner lining of our intestines and is the focus of much scientific research as it has been found to play a contributing role in all chronic diseases. The gut communicates directly with the skin via the immune system and determines the levels of inflammation resulting in redness and itching of the skin and the levels of sebum, hormones and bacterial control that contribute to acne.

The gut microbiome is influenced by the ability of the digestive system to break down our food so that we can absorb the nutrients. The poorly absorbed food is available for the organisms in our gut to eat and can feed many pathogenic strains of bacteria, yeasts and parasites. As the number of these organisms increase in proportion to the healthy bacteria present they can cause inflammation and can trigger skin responses such as eczema and psoriasis.

Hormonal levels are also influenced by the gut microbiome as when this is out of balance and the number of bad organisms is high we can reabsorb our hormones that were supposed to be excreted. This can contribute to increased sebum production and hormonally related skin conditions.

In order to correct the immune response in the gut, there needs to be a constant source of healthy bacteria and digestive enzyme support. This can be helped by taking fermented probiotic supplements such as fermented papaya and fermented superfoods providing hardy bacteria and live enzymes. I find some people benefit from further nutritional support such as Vitamin B6 and zinc to assist in digestion, immunity and skin health.

Assisting detoxication is always beneficial to the body and reduces the workload of the skin. Sweating and improving the circulation with exercise can provide great results. Hot yoga combines the best of these elements with added anti-stress benefits.

Our skin health reflects the function of our internal bodily organs and can give important feedback in order for us to take a deeper look at ourselves. This allows us to address any imbalances to help reduce the risks of potentially more serious health problems in the future.

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Words // Dr Elen ApThomas

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