Our skin is our largest organ and often reflects the state of the organs within our body. Inner health radiates to outward appearance. To enjoy luminous, bright and healthy skin, we first need to look below the surface and take care of what's on the inside. So before you start looking into expensive topical applications, start with the source of the issue - the health of your organs.
In this blog, we'll talk through the three main organ systems you need to know and what you can do to support them and achieve your optimal skin health.
Our Lymphatic System
Our lymphatic system is a network of vessels, nodes and organs that span our entire body. This system is vital to our body’s ability to detoxify, nourish, regenerate tissue and filter out metabolic waste. However, the most important function is the lymphatic systems link to the body's immune system. I like to think of the lymphatic system as our body’s personal drain.
"The lymphatic system is vital to our body’s ability to detoxify, nourish, regenerate tissue and filter out metabolic waste."
Lymphatic vessels lie beneath our skin but they are especially prevalent beneath the skin on our face. Within our lymphatic vessels flows fluid that contains lymphocytes which fight bacteria and infection.
Lymphatic nodules are situated in places within the body where a risk of infection is high – areas such as your mouth, ears, nose and digestive system. Any foreign invader, such as bacteria or a virus, will be filtered into the lymphatics and cleared out of the body. If you have inflamed skin along the jaw or t-zone, this may be linked to toxins spilling out of those lymph nodes.
"Exercise is a nice, easy way to keep our lymphatic system flowing - we don’t want our ‘drains’ blocked!"
The lymphatic system also works alongside our circulatory system. The circulatory system pumps blood from your heart around your body. The main difference between these two systems is that there is no muscle to pump the lymphatic system. Movement in the lymphatic system is a combination of filtration pressure, breathing, gentle movement and pulsation of neighbouring blood vessels. Exercise is a nice, easy way to keep our lymphatic system flowing - we don’t want our ‘drains’ blocked!
When we eat, we constantly expose our digestive system and our gut in particular, to molecules that our body either identifies as food or as ‘foreign invaders.’ These molecules are typically foods that we are intolerant to and tend to include inflamatory food groups such as gluten and dairy.
When our body marks a molecule as foreign invader our immune system is activated and will attack it, trying to clear it out of the body. To do this 'invaders' are passed to the lymphatic system where they will then be eliminated from the body as toxins.
If the lymphatic system is unable to process these toxins completely, it may try to eliminate them through the skin. This then causes many common skin conditions, such as acne, eczema and psoriasis.
The majority of the population experiences skin issues of some sort. For example, over 60% of adolescents suffer from acne. If this is something you, or your child experiences, try eliminating dairy and gluten from your diet.
Stress is a big factor when it comes to the health of your gut. Stress can make your gut more permeable - this means that your body is more likely to react to food you have eaten (especially food you eat regularly). We see this in our clients when their eczema or psoriasis flares up under periods of stress.
While our lymphatic system is important for detoxification, it’s our liver that is the key detoxification center in our body.
Our liver is constantly detoxifying molecules in the body making them safe for excretion. The quantity of work the liver has to do is completely dependant on how many toxins we expose it to.
Along with toxins, our liver is continually processing hormones and molecules made by the body that are no longer needed. It will tend to prioritise toxins over our hormones, which can put us in danger of a build up of excess hormones in the body. This leads to the common hormonal imbalance we see here at the clinic – oestrogen dominance. The toxic excess of oestrogen circulates and can cause all sorts of problems, such as painful, heavy menstruation and poor skin health.
"Our liver cannot keep up with the sheer volume of plastics, harsh chemicals, toxins and hormones our bodies are exposed to today."
While our liver is very good at doing its job, we’re seeing at the BePure Clinic that it cannot keep up with the sheer volume of BPA plastics, harsh chemicals, toxins and synthetic hormones our bodies are exposed to today. The liver becomes loaded and like the lymphatic system, this can result in excess toxins being eliminated through the skin. If you want to reduce your toxin exposure here are 10 tips to lox-tox your life.
You may have noticed after a ‘big night out’ or a time of indulgence, like Christmas, your skin will have a breakout. This is a perfect example of our liver struggling with excess toxins and attempting to eliminate them through the skin.
In addition to oestrogen dominance, another hormone imbalance that can cause havoc with our skin health is excess androgens.
Androgens are a group of hormones that include testosterone and its precursors, DHEAS, DHEA and Androstenedione. It is well established that high levels of androgens in the top layer of skin are linked to excess oil secretion in your skin glands. This leads to increased skin blemishes.
"Excess androgens contribute to oil production in our skin cells while stress makes our skin glands more susceptible to those excess androgens."
Not only do these excess androgens contribute to oil production in our skin cells but stress can make our skin glands more susceptible to those excess androgens.
The more oil that builds up, the more likely that you are the develop hormonal acne. In addition to skin health, it is important to note that high androgen levels have also been linked to polycystic ovary syndrome.
The main contributing factor to excess androgens unstable blood sugar levels over a sustained period of time. Another factor is to excess androgens is high levels of the hormone oestrogen, such as estradiol and estrone. Due to our increased exposure to environmental toxins, oestrogen dominance is becoming a prevalent issue we see at the BePure Clinic. Food cravings, getting ‘hangry’, and erratic energy levels are all signs that you're not stabilising blood sugar as well as you could be.
Ways to improve your skin
Test for food intolerances. The IgA/IgG is a gold standard, food intolerance test that we use often at the BePure Clinic. It can tell us about low-level immune reactions across 96 different foods. For example, you may not be a celiac but you may still have an inflamatory responce to the gluten protein.
Another way to test for a food intolerance is to do a six-week trial without gluten or dairy in your diet and see if it makes a difference. Six weeks will be enough to clear even a low-level immune reaction out of the gut and lymphatic system.
Decrease inflammation in the gut. Try reducing, or if possible eliminating, inflammatory foods from your diet. This includes alcohol, sugar, caffeine, gluten and highly processed foods. At the same time increase foods that reduce inflammation, such as extra virgin olive oil, oily fish, turmeric, and ginger.
Our BePure Three is a high quality, sustainably caught fish oil containing high levels of active omega-3 fatty acids.
Drink plenty of filtered water. The best detoxification agent is actually water. If your body is dehydrated, your body's detox systems will not be able to perform optimally. Water is responsible for keeping the digestive system flowing and for the efficient filtration processes in the liver and kidneys.
Water is also extremely important for the function of the lymphatic system. Aim to drink 0.033 litres of pure water for each kilogram of body weight. You don’t want to be bringing in toxins (like fluoride and chlorine) with your water and so I recommend you drink filtered or pure spring water.
Get moving. Exercise and movement will activate the lymphatic system, assisting with the detoxification. It also clears the liver by removing fats and sugars out of the blood stream and helps to burn testosterone. As discussed above, we know that excess testosterone can directly impact our skin health.
Eat right for you. Eating the right amount of fats, carbohydrates and protein for your macronutrient type is important for balancing blood sugars and managing weight. Unstable blood sugar levels have been linked to hormonal imbalance. We also need the right about of protein to provide the fuel for our detoxification pathways in the liver.
Stress management. We know that stress can contribute to leaky gut so if we are able to minimise the effect that stress has on our digestive system - we can minimise the reaction of our immune system to food in our gut.
Support liver clearance. We can do this by reducing our load on the liver. This means minimising caffeine and alcohol and eating plenty of cruciferous vegetables like brussel sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage and broccoli.
Have a makeup free day. Try to have a makeup free day once a week (or more!). This gives time for the skin to breathe.
- Optimal nutrient status. Nutrients are important to assist with the repair and regeneration of skin cells. Zinc is a particularly important mineral so test your zinc status but using our Zinc Taste Test and if required, supplement with Zinc Restore
Now that you understand HOW these organ systems affect your skin health and what to do to achieve your optimal skin health, check out my latest blog post, '7 Natural Ways to Have Healthy, Glowing Skin.'