With 40+ years in the skin industry, today I combine my skin health business with my health coaching business. I am an advocate of finding out what causes symptoms and researching the hidden connections to our challenges.
There are many faces of skin disorders when we come to realize how the gut and skin are closely connected. Our gut is where 80% of our immune system lies. If we eat poor quality foods, or, are addicted to alcohol and have an abundance of stress….we have reduced blood flow to the gut which leaves our immune system compromised.
Vitiligo has been reported to be associated with a variety of autoimmune disorders such as adrenal insufficiency, pernicious anemia (lowB12), diabetes mellitus, and thyroid disease. We can address these by removing and avoiding sugar, vegetable oils, alcohol abuse, gluten, dehydration, and processed foods. If one is seriously interested in making improvements in their skin, one must also address “chronic stress levels.”(1)
Stress can be caused by toxic food choices, toxic chemicals, and toxic emotions. In order to restore color to areas of skin where melanocytes are still functional, we must make sure that diet and lifestyle don’t continuously undo the re-pigmenting work that your melanocytes are constantly engaged in.
In my research, I’ve found Vitiligo is exacerbated by stress. This is where support from a certified holistic health coach can be useful.
Vitiligo can be related to thyroid imbalance and leaky gut. Intestinal permeability (a.k.a. “leaky gut”) causes both systemic and local inflammation, which in turn may contribute to skin disease. Try to avoid gluten, alcohol, sugar, and a folate deficiency.
Lectins can contribute to eroding our intestinal barrier also. Because the lectins also circulate throughout the bloodstream they can bind to any tissue in the body — thyroid, pancreas, collagen in joints, etc.(2) Wheat, peanuts, kidney beans, and soybeans are high in lectins. Cow’s milk, nightshade vegetables (such as potatoes) can also contain lectins. Lectins may be problematic because they are sticky molecules that can bind to the linings of human tissue, especially intestinal cells of sensitive individuals.
With Vitiligo, most rBGH milk products, including buttermilk, should be avoided. Grain-fed/ GMO Beef, pork, and farmed fish are also never recommended.(3) Why? Because leaky gut has a direct connection with vitiligo and pesticides from GMO’s. The end results may lead to poor skin health, brain-fog and cognitive issues.
Leaky gut can lead to “leaky skin”. The main function of the skin is to act as a physical, chemical and antimicrobial defense system. Studies have shown that both stress and gut inflammation can impair the integrity and protective function of the epidermal barrier. This in turn leads to a decrease in antimicrobial peptides produced in the skin, and may increase the severity of simple infections and inflammation in the skin.(4)
Read Labels: It is imperative to become aware and read ingredient labels in skin and sun care products. By doing this “bite-size step” we can avoid sodium lauryl sulfate, parabens and petroleum products. Ditch old outdated skin care products and invest in organic skin care.
Healthy Sleep is important for thyroid and skin health. It may prove valuable to ditch all sources of caffeine for a while.
Skin can become “sun sensitive”, however taking 15 minutes a day of sunshine is still better than taking synthetic Vitamin D. Taking a synthetic Vitamin D may make skin “sun sensitive” and may add to Vitiligo (causing free radical damage).
Avoid OTC’s. Taking NSAIDs can cause sun sensitivity. These include very common over-the-counter painkillers like ibuprofen (popularly sold as Advil and Motrin), ketoprofen (Orudis), naproxen (Aleve) and celecoxib (Celebrex).
Veggies. One may want to increase intake of red beets, carrots, and dark green vegetables. These pigment-rich vegetables appear to provide some level of natural protection against sun burning from the inside-out.
Look at what can be depleting your Vitamin B 12 levels? Caffeine, sugar, statins, antidepressants, antibiotics, acid reflux medications and more, can deplete Vitamin B12 levels. Numerous studies report that women who take birth control pills also have lower levels of folate and vitamin B12 compared to non-users.(5)
It is possible that oxidative stress is involved with vitiligo!(6) Free radicals from toxins are linked to oxidative stress which damages the mitochondria. Please note, oxidative stress can be caused by toxic vegetable oils that may be linked to thyroid issues. PFCs—which you’ll recognize through trade names as Teflon and Stain master—have been studied most for their impact on poor thyroid function. Additionally, mercury exposure is toxic to our thyroid gland.
What about vitamins and herbs?
L-Glutamine and NAC are amino acids, which help with tissue formation. N-acetylcysteine is an effective treatment for acetaminophen toxicity that can often head off severe liver or kidney damage results. It can neutralize toxins in the liver because of its ability to boost glutathione levels.(7)
Good sources of l-glutamine are raw cabbage, sauerkraut, parsley, broccoli, and spinach. In addition to this, studies have shown that those with vitiligo tend to have lower levels of glutathione, which NAC can help supplement. Good food sources of glutathione are kale, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, and asparagus.
Excellent sources of folate include spinach, asparagus, turnip greens, mustard greens, parsley, collard greens, broccoli, cauliflower, beets, and lentils.
You can also add turmeric and ginger to your meals to decrease inflammation and help build the immune system.
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