How is skin health related to nutrition and detoxification? Problems with digestion and the gut can lead to leaky gut. Leaky gut allows food particles and toxins to escape the digestive tract and make their way into the blood stream, where they trigger an immune response. This immune response can manifest in a wide variety of ways, including as skin conditions.
Digestive imbalances and impaired gut health also can cause a deficiency in nutrients needed for skin health, as well as overall health. Poor gut health and dysfunction, leaky gut, and nutrient deficiency can adversely affect detoxification processes in the liver (poor detoxification capacity results).
When we have a build of up toxins that cannot be excreted through normal routes (the liver is our major detox organ), those toxins will make their way out somehow, often that somehow is through the skin, and this can cause all sorts of skin conditions.
If you suffer with skin issues like eczema, psoriasis, and dermatitis (among others), you likely have digestive and gut imbalances and dysfunction, leaky gut, and impaired detoxification capacity.
Keep in mind that common food triggers for eczema include gluten, dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt, and butter), and eggs. Dairy products also adversely affect the lining of your gut, contributing to leaky gut. Yogurt in particular is not eczema friendly because it can be loaded with extra sugar, and it contains histamine (amines) because it's fermented where histamine is also a trigger for skin problems. Grapes, oranges, kiwi, soy, tomato, avocado, broccoli, dried fruit, deli meat/processed meat, and junk food can all wreak havoc for your eczema. Foods noted below are examples of those that contain nutrients important for skin health. If you suffer from eczema avoiding the common trigger foods may help, and determining which components of certain foods cause your reactions can help as well as they can be found in a very wide range of foods. Histamine and amine foods, salicylates, oxalates, nightshades, citrus foods, among others are often offenders in eczema sufferers.
Discovering your personal triggers may take some trial and error, everyone is different. A qualified health care practitioner skilled in the functional approach to medicine, like a functional and clinical nutritionist, can guide you through the appropriate testing and interventions customized for your case.
Incorporate these nutrients into your diet for healthy skin and detoxification
Nutrients important for healthy skin/skin barrier: Carotenoids (Vitamin A, Beta-Carotene), Zinc, Vitamin C, Biotin, Calcium, Selenium, Silica, B3, K2, Sulfur, Essential Fatty Acids (omega 3 and 6), Flavonoids, Polyphenols, Peptides, Protein, Vitamin E, B5, Vitamin D, CoQ10, Probiotics, Prebiotics, Curcumin, Resveratrol, EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate)
Nutrients important for detoxification Phase I: B2, B3, B6, Folate, B12, Glutathione, Branched Chain Amino Acids, Flavonoids, Phospholipids
Nutrients important for detoxification Phase II: Glycine, Taurine, Glutamine, N-acetylcysteine, Cysteine, Methionine
Important antioxidants that support intermediary metabolites (between Phases I and II): Vitamin A (carotenoids), Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Selenium, Copper, Zinc, Manganese, CoQ10, Thiols, Flavonoids, Silymarin, Pycnogenol
Foods containing nutrients for skin health and detoxification
Peptides: Food derived bioactive peptides include milk, egg, fish and meat, soybean, grains (corn, rice, wheat)
Protein: High-quality proteins of any kind are the best choice, including lean, grass-fed, organic, non-GMO sources. Remember to choose wild-caught fish, as farmed varieties may contain hormones and toxic chemicals called polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).
Vegetarian: miso, natto, tofu, tempeh, rice/hemp/pea protein powders, plant based burger alternatives
Omnivores: eggs, fish, meat, poultry
B2: Spinach, tempeh, crimini mushrooms, eggs, asparagus, turkey
B3: Tuna, chicken, turkey, salmon, lamb, beef, sardines, brown rice
B5: Chicken liver, sunflower seeds, salmon, avocado, sun dried tomatoes, corn, mushrooms
B6: Tuna, turkey, beef, chicken, salmon, sweet potato, potato, sunflower seeds, spinach
Folate: Liver, chicken giblets, egg yolk, dried beans, lentils, split peas, potatoes, sweet potatoes, spinach, beet root, Brussels sprouts, dark leafy greens, kale, bok choy, asparagus, oranges, peaches
B12: B12 is found naturally only in animal products. Choose methylcobalamin for supplemental source, sardines, salmon, tuna, cod, lamb, beef, liver, chicken, fish, eggs, rainbow trout, haddock
Biotin: Eggs, legumes, meats, oily fish, chicken, liver
Vitamin A: Beef liver, cod liver oil, egg, butter, milk, sweet potato, pumpkin, carrot, cantaloupe, mango, spinach, broccoli, kale, collard greens, butternut squash (essentially all red, orange, yellow, and green plant foods)
Vitamin C: All will be higher in vitamin C if uncooked: Bell peppers, papaya, citrus fruits, Brussels sprouts, strawberries, kiwi
Vitamin D: Salmon, herring and sardines, cod liver oil, canned light tuna (lower in mercury), oysters, egg yolk, mushrooms
Vitamin E: Sunflower seeds, spinach, Swiss chard, avocados, turnip greens, asparagus, mustard greens
Vitamin K2: Grass fed butter, egg yolk, liver, sauerkraut, and it’s made by gut bacteria
Zinc: Beef, lamb, pumpkin seeds, lentils, garbanzo beans, quinoa, turkey
Copper: Mushrooms (shiitake), sunflower seeds, garbanzo beans, lentils, lima beans
Selenium: Tuna, sardines, salmon, turkey, cod, chicken, lamb, beef
Calcium (non dairy sources): Seeds, canned salmon, sardines, beans, lentils, almonds, some leafy greens (collard, spinach, kale), amaranth
Manganese: Cloves, gluten-free oats, brown rice, garbanzo beans, spinach, pumpkin seeds
Silica: Leeks, green beans, garbanzo beans, strawberries, cucumber, mango, celery, asparagus, rhubarb, Fiji brand water
Sulfur: Chicken, haddock, sardine, cod, beef, dried peaches, egg, turkey, spinach, onion, Brussels sprouts, chickpeas, figs, beans/peas, leeks, endive, potatoes
Flavonoids (a class of polyphenols): Virtually all plant foods, including apples, apricots, blueberries, pears, raspberries, strawberries, black beans, onions, parsley, pinto beans, tomatoes
Curcumin: Turmeric, curry powder, mango ginger
Resveratrol: Grapes, red and white wine, peanuts, pistachios, blueberries, cranberries, cocoa, dark chocolate
EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate): Green, oolong, and black teas, carob flour, pecans, filberts, hazelnuts, raw cranberries, pistachios
CoQ10: Meat, poultry, fish
DHA and EPA (Essential Fatty Acids/Omega 3s/healthy fats): Cell membranes are made of cholesterol and phospholipids, need to make sure there are plenty of healthy fats in your diet daily, and essential fatty acids reduce inflammation, and assist with gut and skin healing. Flaxseed, eggs, fish and fish oils, marine sources (sea vegetables/seaweeds), avocado, coconut oil
Glutathione: Undenatured whey protein, asparagus, curcumin/turmeric, avocado, spinach, garlic, foods high in vitamin C (e.g., citrus fruits) and selenium
Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA): Whey protein, chicken, fish, eggs
Phospholipids: Sunflower seeds, eggs
Glycine: Beef, chicken, lamb
Taurine: Meat, fish
Glutamine: Beef, chicken, fish, eggs, beets, beans, spinach, parsley
N-Acetylcysteine: Most high-protein foods (e.g., chicken), garlic, cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, arugula)
Cysteine: Beef, chicken, lamb, fish
Methionine: Egg white/whole eggs, chicken, tuna, beef, chickpeas, pinto beans, lentils, brown rice
Thiols: Chives, daikon radishes, garlic, leeks, onions, scallions, shallots
Silymarin: Artichokes, milk thistle
Pycnogenol: Small amounts found in the peels, skins, or seeds of grapes, blueberries, cherries, plums
Avoid high mercury fish
High mercury fish: Bluefish, grouper, mackerel (Spanish, Gulf, King), marlin, orange roughy, sea bass (Chilean), shark, swordfish, tilefish, and tuna (canned albacore, yellowfin, bigeye, ahi)
Low mercury fish: anchovies, butterfish, catfish, croaker (Atlantic), flounder, haddock (Atlantic), hake, herring, mackerel (North Atlantic, chub), mullet, perch (ocean), pollock, salmon (fresh, wild), sardines, sole (Pacific), squid, tilapia, trout (freshwater), whitefish, and whiting
Protein and collagen supplements
Collagen: Provides skin and gut barrier support.
Protein: Provides much needed amino acids. In a state of "illness" or rather chronic inflammation/chronic immune responses your body has higher protein needs. Protein is needed to build all cells and structures in the body, including those involved in skin.
Go organic when possible for fruits and vegetables.
Go organic, pastured, free range, grass fed, wild caught, etc. for animal products.
Drink at least 6-8 glasses of water per day.