The primary function of the skin is to protect us and it does this by acting as a physical, chemical and antimicrobial defense system. The skin’s resilience becomes weakened by our busy and stressful lifestyles as well as our diets that are high in sugar, processed foods and carbohydrates. This often results in skin disorders such as eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis and premature aging.
When the skin becomes “leaky” more environmental substances (chemicals, pollens, bacteria) can get through your defenses. Think about your skin, it should be more like a coffee filter, filtering out all the harmful stuff. But when it becomes a spaghetti strainer then just think of all the things that may be passing through. Yuck!
The most common cause of this “leaky skin” syndrome is stress. When you are under stress the outmost layer of the skin begins to breakdown. When this happens, the skin cells start to shrink and the fats evaporate, leaving your skin vulnerable to attack due to tiny cracks. When certain bacteria get through this activates your immune system, leading to an increase in infection and inflammation of the skin.
Speaking of barriers, the gut itself plays the same function as our skin. And studies have shown that the unhealthy gut flora (bacteria) can influence the skin by releasing a neuropeptide called substance P, which worsens your skin conditions. Changing your gut floral balance by consuming good bacteria (probiotics) attenuates this affect, and is why acne suffers may see positive results in their skin when probiotics are taken orally.
It should be pretty obvious, then, that to maintain a good non-leaky skin barrier we need to feed the body healthy nutrient rich foods, drink plenty of water, eliminate food sensitivities, heal the gut and restore the gut flora balance.
Dr. Nicole Clement, ND