Suffering from Eczema or Dry Skin? It May Be a Gut Issue!
Gut health is all the rage right now. It’s normal for trends to circulate on social media, but sometimes they creep into the health and medical side of our culture. Currently, doctors and health experts and even diet culture influencers are raving about the importance of gut health.
In functional medicine, the importance of gut health is nothing new. Functional medicine practitioners like Clare Cattarin (MSN, FNP, IFM-CP) help patients reverse gut issues that are causing a variety of health problems. Some of them may surprise you! For example, if you’ve been suffering from eczema or dry skin, it may be a gut issue!
Let’s break down why gut health matters and how to reverse gut issues like eczema or dry skin.
What’s Up with Your Gut?
When most people talk about gut health, they’re referring to your small and large intestines, which break down the food you eat into nutrients and waste products. Your gut microbiome, located in these systems, is composed of an entire culture of bacteria responsible for processing and absorbing the food you eat.
The bacteria in your gut are also responsible for fighting off invading bacteria, protecting against illness and helping you stay healthy. If you do end up sick, it’s your gut bacteria that keeps the virus from overtaking your body—much like a battle being fought between two microscopic armies.
Also, your gut is linked directly to your brain through the vagus nerve, where healthy gut bacteria help to regulate mood, anxiety levels, and certain hormones. Your gut is so complex that scientists have coined the term “second brain” when referring to your gut.
How Gut Imbalance Affects Your Health
Ideally, we want the gut bacteria to be in a healthy balance in order to function properly. The gut contains trillions of bacterial cells which ideally live in balance with each other. However, when they become imbalanced, certain species of bacteria become overgrown. This causes a tipping point that can render a “harmful effect.”
Unfortunately, most people don’t have a healthy gut. Due to a variety of factors, many people find themselves with gut issues. This contributes to a multitude of health issues, including:
- Poor immune health
- Poor digestion
- Nutrient deficiency
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Stomach pain
- Enteric Nervous System
- Chronic disease
- Hormone imbalance
- Joint pain
- Depression and/or anxiety
- Dry skin
With this laundry list of health problems such as eczema or dry skin, it’s no wonder that doctors and patients alike are trying to reverse gut issues and get their gut bacteria back online!
What Causes Gut Imbalance?
For most people, poor gut health results from various lifestyle factors such as:
- Poor nutrition
- Inactive lifestyle
- High stress levels
- Poor relationships
- Toxic exposure
- Environmental factors
Most doctors treat the symptoms (i.e. eczema and dry skin) that result from gut health issues instead of addressing the true cause behind these health problems. Functional Medicine Practitioners like Clare Cattarin help patients identify the root cause behind their symptoms: a gut issue. From there, she digs deeper and identifies why patients have a gut issue in the first place.
How to Heal Your Gut Issues
Clean the Gut by Detoxing
The first step in reversing a gut issue is to detox the body of harmful chemicals or substances that have thrown the body off-kilter.
Some people may be dealing with serious toxins, such as mercury from a dental filling. Other people may be exposed to toxins in the air they breathe. Still others may use cleaning or beauty products laced with chemicals that are destroying their gut health.
It’s not a good idea to attempt a detox on your own; you may end up hurting your body even more! Functional medicine providers like Clare Cattarin help patients identify the source of toxins in their homes or environments and create a plan for eliminating these toxins, allowing the gut to regenerate healthy bacteria.
Support the Gut with Nutrition
Nearly every patient with a gut issue needs to make some changes in their nutrition. A diet of mostly processed foods isn’t sustainable for gut health. Functional medicine doctors place large emphasis on improving nutrition and working with each patient individually.
On the whole, practitioners like Clare recommend incorporating the following foods for promoting gut bacteria and fixing gut issues:
- Well-sourced protein
- Whole grains
- Healthy fats
- Leafy greens
- Nuts and seeds
- Foods with active cultures (i.e. yogurt or kimchi)
A functional medicine practitioner assesses each patient’s current eating habits and provides guidance for making healthy changes in a sustainable way. The goal is to develop a lifestyle that’s susinatable, not one that leads to restriction, binge eating, or food guilt.
Heal the Gut with Habits
Fixing a gut issue like eczema or dry skin doesn’t happen overnight—just like your gut issues didn’t develop overnight! And once your gut issues start to improve, it’s not a good idea to go right back to your old habits.
The goal behind functional medicine is more than fixing your current health problems. It’s also about finding lifestyle habits that are sustainable and easy to maintain for the rest of your life. Traditional doctors often treat “quick fixes,” but functional medicine views health as a marathon, not a sprint.
Working with a Functional Medicine Practitioner
Ready to kiss gut issues goodbye? Clare Cattarin (MSN, FNP, IFM-CP) specializes in treating gut health for California patients. Read more about her gut health services and schedule an appointment today.