The Gut-Skin Connection Book from Bestow Beauty is now available at Lox Holistic Beauty.
Beautiful skin begins in the gut. My mentor, Janice Smith, taught me about this connection 30 years ago when I was just starting out as a beauty therapist in Tauranga. In those days I worked in a small room in the back of Helena Hair Designers. Today that has grown into Lox Holistic Beauty. I am sure some of our clients will remember those days!
It’s exciting to see research on gut health validating what I learnt from Janice and what I have seen in my work with my lovely clients over the decades.
Our gut is home to trillions of micro-organisms – some good, some bad. In fact, they make up an estimated two kilograms of our total weight. We have a symbiotic relationship with the good microbes, which means it’s mutually beneficial. We give these microbe colonies a roof over their heads and all the food that our digestive system doesn’t absorb. In return, they look after us, producing certain vitamins, neurotransmitters, and SCFA’s (Short Chain Fatty Acid’s) to nourish our bodies. They also help train our immune systems and protect us from bad, pathogenic bacteria.
When this relationship is going well these microbes and the substances they produce are very good for us and help to keep us well. They even support our skin by producing beneficial substances that get into our blood stream and accumulate in our skin, strengthening and beautifying it. But the reverse is also true. When we get an imbalance of the good to bad bacteria ratio, it can impact negatively on our health and our skin function.
In the last few years gut health has become very important to me personally because I ended up with gut problems that had really major effect on my health and my skin. This first-hand experience gave me a sense of conviction about how important it is to heal your gut before you try to heal your body or your skin.
In late 2016, over a period of just one month I went from being fit and active, in the most advanced Pilates class and tramping in outback New Zealand to hardly being able to walk or dress myself. The discomfort started off in my lower back, spread to my hips and then to my upper back and shoulders. I ended up in terrible pain and as I continued to deteriorate, I started fearing that I was going to end up in a wheel chair. I also developed perioral dermatitis and patches of persistent eczema.
I underwent a huge number of tests from MRI’s to blood tests for autoimmune disorders. None of the specialists could find anything wrong with me except for high levels of inflammatory markers in my blood. There was no explanation and I had no idea what to do next.
Luckily I ended up under the care of a great physiotherapist who used a holistic approach and she helped me connect the dots.
You see, a year prior I had picked up a mild gastro infection when I was travelling New Zealand teaching. It didn’t cause me too much distress so I let nature take its course and within a week the symptoms settled down. But they never fully disappeared and I was left with an irritable bowel. After about 6 months of this mild discomfort I decided to get it checked out. A physician took a biopsy of the bowel and diagnosed me with lymphocytic colitis, an inflammatory condition of the colon where the lymphocyte or immune cells accumulate in the bowel wall. The physician suspected that my immune system had dealt with the original infection but had failed to turn off. My gut immune system remained on high alert, the lymphocytes all waiting for invaders and at the same time inflaming my bowel. There was no cure, I just had to hope the situation would resolve itself.
Another few months later, my gut was still unhappy and the pain in my joints began. Looking back I realised that my sensitised immune system had continued to inflame the colon resulting in leaky gut. The increased permeability of the gut meant undigested food and inflammatory substances could enter the blood stream and spread to the rest of my body, resulting in painful joints and skin problems. Nothing I tried gave me any relief. I couldn’t exercise, could hardly walk, needed help to dress and couldn’t even travel for any distance in the car. I became fearful, stressed and in constant pain. You can imagine what a relief it was for me to find this holistic physiotherapist who could help me.
She encouraged me to go on a dietary programme to heal my gut. Within 24 hours of eliminating certain foods I started to feel just a little bit better. These were foods that I would normally consider to be healthy but I now know are irritating to a damaged gut. It was the first sign of improvement since this saga began and I was encouraged. I stuck to the programme religiously and it took me a good 18 months to completely heal myself! The first to heal was my skin and then slowly the inflammation in my joints reduced. However, whenever I strayed from the programme, my problems flared.
I am so grateful to have had this experience, I now appreciate and understand how important gut health is and how it is the foundation for a healthy body and healthy skin.
I can now eat a normal diet without suffering and I’ve become passionate about producing tools to help others transform their skin and their wellbeing with gut-health strategies. This has lead me, with the help of my wonderful team, to produce The Gut-Skin Connection book. A complete gut-health resource complete with information, recipes and the programme that I followed to heal my body. I do hope that it helps others in their quest for health and wellbeing.
Shop the Gut-Skin Connection book in salon at Lox or online here at holisticbeauty.co.nz