Coming up on this episode of The Doctor’s Farmacy.
Dr. Mark Hyman:
Whether you’re having acne which can be caused by insulin resistance or eating dairy, or whether you have dry skin, it could be related to thyroid function, it could be a sign of food sensitivities.
Welcome to The Doctor’s Farmacy. I’m Dr. Mark Hyman. That’s pharmacy with an F, a place for conversations that matter. And if you’ve ever had trouble with your skin, I think this conversation’s going to matter to you ’cause we’re going to get deep into why we have skin problems and how to fix them. And it’s not by lathering potions, lotions, and creams on your face or your body. It’s from healing from the inside out, which I had to learn the hard way.
I love our little sessions called Health Bites, which we now have today, which is little bits of information that can help you change your health by taking small steps every day. And looking younger it’s not just about what creams your slather on your face, or looking good is not about the ointments and potions and lotions. It’s about what’s going on inside. Good skin is an inside job.
Now, treating your body well on the inside has lots of health benefits, which we all know, including the quality and the appearance of your skin. Your skin reflects the inflammation going on inside your body. And poor gut health is often reflected in skin. And even food sensitivities and other things that are related to what you’re eating can have a huge impact on the health of your skin. So the question is, what cause you to have good skin, which happens to be the largest organ in the human body, and what causes bad skin? We’re going to get into that today.
What if I told you the secret to healthy skin is not about what you put on your body, but what you put in your body. Today we’re going to talk about how to heal many skin issues by changing your diet, by optimizing your nutritional status, and healing your gut.
Now, I mostly have had good skin in my life, but there was a period when I got really bad skin. When I had chronic fatigue syndrome and I had leaky gut with terrible bloating and diarrhea and all kinds of issues, I got terrible plaques like psoriasis, rashes over my body, acne, terrible bags under my eyes, and all this stuff came on pretty fast. I was 36 years old and before that I had great skin. So I was obviously not too worried about my skin then ’cause I was really sick from other stuff. It was sort of a side effect.
But I discovered that skin problems came from the inside. And things like toxins, gut imbalances, food allergies, nutritional deficiencies, all these things affect us and they were making my skin look like crap. And once I addressed these things, then my skin got better. And I learned how to treat my patients, whether it was eczema or psoriasis or acne or rosacea or dry skin or whatever you name it that can go wrong with your skin, I learned how to fix it from the inside out.
Now the conventional medicine approach is pretty screwed up when it comes to skin honestly. Most dermatologists have the opposite approach. They’re constantly putting in creams and lotions and potions and ointments and things that they are trying to put on from the outside to fix what’s coming from the inside. And they really don’t have a lot of luck I mean. And sometimes the stuff they use is pretty heavy duty, like steroids. That’s the main thing, right? And steroids are pretty nasty over the time because they damage your skin even more, and then you have to keep putting them on, putting them on. Or with acne, you have to take all these heavy duty drugs or antibiotics. I mean, it’s kind of a nightmare. So it’s good for selling creams and potions but not good for you.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t double down on focusing on how to take care of your skin from the inside out. And there’s a lot of things you can do. I cover a lot of them in my podcasts and my blogs. We’re going to talk about how to do that today.
If you have skin issues, if you want to keep your skin healthy, you have to learn how to take care of your skin. Now, when you take the stuff that dermatologists give you, typically like steroid creams, peelers, antibiotics, they actually can cause more problems down the road. They can screw up your gut like antibiotics are given for acne, and they actually make the problem worse. And most dermatologists somehow don’t realize that skin problems are a sign of what’s going on inside.
Whether you have dry scaly patches, for example, that could be a sign that you’re having some omega-3 fatty acid deficiency or whether you’re having acne, which can be caused by insulin resistance or eating dairy, or whether you have dry skin, it could be related to thyroid function, it could be a sign of food sensitivities. Little bumpy patches in your arms can be a sign of vitamin A deficiency. So it’s really important to understand how the inside affects the outside.
Also, we eat a diet that’s really high in refined oils and they’re out of balance with our omega-3 oils. And we also eat trans fats that’s still in the diet and those also cause skin inflammation and can cause all sorts of issues. And inflammation doesn’t just affect your skin, but affects everything. It causes heart disease, cancer, diabetes, dementia, can cause behavioral issues, anxiety, depression.
So when I see people with inflammatory skin conditions like dermatitis, eczema, acne, rashes, it’s always because there’s some inflammation on the inside, not just on the outside.
So what is the functional medicine approach to getting healthy skin? Well, it’s figuring out how to reset your biology by focusing on the root causes of disease, the medicine of why, not what disease do you have but why do you have it. Think about functional medicine doctors. They’re more like soil farmers. Instead of growing vegetables or monocrop corn or soy or wheat, they basically take care of the soil. When you take care of the soil, then plants are healthier and you’re healthier. So a healthy soil means disease can’t really spread. We call this the biological terrain in functional medicine. Louis Pasture talked about how disease was caused by pathogens, but actually it’s often related to what the terrain is, the health of the host.
So when you use an approach of functional medicine by dealing with the root causes, when you look at the health of the gut, when you look at your nutritional status, toxic exposures, et cetera, you actually can change those things and lead to a dramatic improvement in your skin health.
I see this all the time with my patients. I’m not a dermatologist, but I treat people with all kinds of health issues and their skin gets better. Or I treat people with skin issues using a functional medicine approach and they get better. So it’s pretty powerful stuff.
So what are my strategies for keeping your skin healthy? It doesn’t start with better cleansers or beauty products or all the stuff that people put on their face. It really starts with getting rid of the crap, getting rid of sugar and starch, processed foods. What’s interesting is that sugar is one of the biggest causes of acne. It’s also the biggest cause of inflammation. It can cause yeast overgrowth in the gut, which can lead to eczema, for example.
When sugar sticks to amino acids that are in collagen, elastin in your skin, for example, they produce something called advanced glycation end products or AGEs, and they age your skin and they age your other organs. There’s lots of ways to get rid of it. I wrote a book on how I help people detox from sugar called The Blood Sugar Solution: 10-Day Detox Diet. It’s a great book. It was a bestseller. It’s really easy to implement and it’s super powerful, and you can get rid of sugar and processed food in 10 days, get rid of all your cravings and reset your biology, and you’ll see within a very short time, your skin starts to clear up.
Also, food sensitivities are a big factor when it comes to bad skin. It’s not necessarily an allergy, but it’s a sensitivity. Like dairy, for example, is hugely impactful with acne. And I want to eat cow dairy, I tend to get acne. It can be also trigger for eczema for many other things. It can be linked to autoimmune diseases, to allergic disorders, psoriasis. All can be linked, for example, to gluten. So gluten can cause a lot of skin disease. In fact, one of the diagnostic features of celiac disease is something called dermatitis herpetiformis, which is a horrible condition of skin, which causes all kinds of herpes like bumps and blood vessels, little like blisters on your skin, but it’s coming from gluten, coming from your gut. So doing the blood sugar solution 10-day detox diet is essentially an elimination diet and it can help you get rid of those food sensitivities.
The next thing you have do is work on your gut. I know I sound like a broken record, but the gut is the seed of your health. And when you have a healthy gut, you have healthy skin and it has huge effects, what’s driving inflammation, oxidative stress, affects your blood sugar control. So if you have imbalance on your gut, you might not even have symptoms, but it can really be a factor. So if you suspect leaky gut or other gut issues, I encourage you to do my gut repair program that is included in many of my blogs. We’ll link to them in the show notes here. But you can also work with a functional medicine doctor to actually get your body in balance again and to do the right kinds of stool tests and to heal your gut.
The next thing is you need omega-3 fats. Your skin is so critically dependent on omega-3 fats for health. So if you have dry skin, itchy skin, flaking skin, scaly skin, scaly patches, it could be the sign of an omega-3 fat deficiency. So you want to increase those by eating wild caught small fish like salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel, anchovies, and also take omega-3 fat supplements, really important.
Also, make sure your nutritional levels are good. Lots of nutrients play a role in skin health. Zinc. If zinc is low, for example, it can contribute to eczema, acne, and other rashes. Vitamin D plays a huge role in things like psoriasis and acne. So get a good multivitamin, good fish oil, good vitamin D, that’ll cover most of it.
Also, getting your blood circulation going is really important. Sweating, exercise. Sweating helps remove toxins. Sauna, steam mask, great for your skin. One study found that regular sauna has great impact on skin physiology. Get the toxins off your skin with a sauna or steam. Instead of washing it with soap, use a hot shower because your toxins basically come on your body when you’re in those saunas and from being released from your fat tissue. So you want to use a scrubber or brush or hot soap.
Also, sleep’s important. If you’re having poor sleep, it increases aging, it diminishes barrier function, lowers the quality of your overall health and you basically, when people don’t sleep, you can see how bad they look. So sleep is really pretty important. Eight hours of sleep is key.
Stress, also very important. If you have emotional stress, it can really make skin worse in whether it’s psoriasis or eczema. People get hives when they’re stressed. So really important.
I recommend meditation. I have an UltraCalm CD, which is a great way to meditate and get rid of stress.
Also, make sure you’re watching your skin products. Stop using all these creams and cosmetics that contain chemicals like paraben, petrochemicals, lead. Use the environmental working group database called Skin Deep to identify toxins in your products and find ones that actually have no toxins that can be great for you.
Also know that drugs and chemicals are absorbed through your skin. So anything that goes on your skin gets absorbed. So be worried about it. And you can go to the Environmental Working Group page, it’s ewd.org and see how to reduce your exposure to environmental chemicals.
Your skin health is so important. It’s a reflection of your inner health. You have to take care of your gut, your nutritional status, reduce your exposures to toxins, deal with stress and sleep. All these things will help you have healthier and better skin.
That’s it for today’s Health Bite. Make sure you share it with your friends and family on social media. I’m sure they’d love to hear about it. We love to hear how you have handled your own skin issues. What have you done to optimize your skin health? We’d love to learn and we’ll see you next week on The Doctor’s Farmacy.
Hi everyone. I hope you enjoyed this week’s episode. Just a reminder that this podcast is for educational purposes only. This podcast is not a substitute for professional care by a doctor or other qualified medical professional. This podcast is provided on the understanding that it does not constitute medical or other professional advice or services.
If you’re looking for help in your journey, seek out a qualified medical practitioner. If you’re looking for a functional medicine practitioner, you can visit ifm.org and search their find a practitioner database. It’s important that you have someone in your corner who’s trained, who’s a licensed healthcare practitioner and can help you make changes, especially when it comes to your health.