With skin conditions increasing dramatically across the population over the last decade (and atopic dermatitis now affecting up to 20% of children), understanding the role that liver health plays in your skin health is more important than ever before.
Let’s go deeper.
What is the Liver Skin Axis?
The liver is a powerhouse and is involved in over 500 essential functions within the human body. Not only does the liver act as a large filter for your blood (removing toxins, allergens, bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites and more) but it also is involved with the absorption of nutrients from the food that we put into our body, the creation of enzymes, hormones, and proteins and the breakdown of many other substances so that our body can create the energy it needs to thrive.
Liver function is influenced by the amount of work it needs to do - think, the number of toxins it needs to process or the number of nutrients it needs to absorb. Unfortunately, in today’s society, toxins are everywhere - from the products that touch our skin, the food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe, as well as the pharmaceutical medications, plastic-related compounds and pesticides that we ingest (see our recent post on Glyphosate here).
Today, our livers have never had to work harder. They are constantly working to remove these toxins through special detox routes known as the Phase I and Phase II pathways.
And if the liver is not doing its job properly?
If your liver is sluggish, overwhelmed, or underworking, these toxins may not be detoxed properly. If your liver is overburdened, the body will try to flush these toxins out in other ways, such as through your sweat and through your skin.
When these toxins start to be expelled from your pores, they can lead to a host of skin conditions, such as:● A more dull complexion than usual
● Dry itchy skin
● Brown liver spots
If you are suffering from any of the above conditions, this is likely an indication that the liver is overworked, struggling to detox and needs assistance and support.
So toxins are the bad guy?
Toxins are a big problem, yes, but another factor involved in the liver-skin connection is fat.
The liver breaks down the fat in your diet too and, like with toxins, if the liver is overwhelmed with fats, they can move into the bloodstream. When this happens, often the sebaceous glands in your skin will try to use the fat, but because it contains inflammatory toxins, it can further provoke skin conditions. The thicker and more toxic the sebum that the body is dealing with, the more likely it will clog your pores and the more likely you will be to see it show up as a skin condition.
A bad diet and bad fats = more breakouts.
Ok. Wow, I think this is me. So, what should I do?
The root cause drivers of skin conditions are often overlooked in traditional medicine and conventional therapy for acne, eczema and other skin conditions often include topical creams, steroids, immunomodulators or antihistamines - all which require continued use and do not address the underlying cause of disease.
At Agent Nateur, we passionately believe that there are so many proactive and impactful steps that you can take with diet, lifestyle and supplementation support to get your liver doing the job it needs to, so your skin can get the glow it deserves.
Here are our top 10 tips to support your Liver/Skin axis and your liver’s natural detoxification power:
1. Incorporate supplements that speed up and support detoxification. We love cleanly produced, herbal and natural based health products. For supplements, look into supplementing with high quality NAC, glutathione, B vitamins, choline, selenium, vitamin C and chlorella. For plant medicines, look into milk thistle, burdock root, dandelion, schisandra berry, Oregon grape root and yellow dock root but be sure to consult a naturopath or MD before starting to self-supplement.
2. Nourish the body through diet. Keep processed and fatty foods low. Incorporate foods that are high in soluble and insoluble fiber so your body can bind and eliminate toxins more easily.
Focus on increasing B Rich Foods (because the liver is the primary organ responsible for storage and metabolism of folates). Go for foods like green leafy vegetables, beets, broccoli,
nuts, seeds, asparagus, Bessel sprouts, avocados, citrus foods, grass fed meat and eggs. Also focus on increasing more bitter foods in your diet - think arugula, watercress, broccoli rabe, radish, rapini, turmeric, Jerusalem artichoke, dill, cumin and lemon!
Make sure you reduce high fructose foods, bad fats (canola oil, safflower oil, cotton seed oil), alcohol and processed food.
Finally, going low carb will improve your liver fat metabolism and shift your gut microbiome into absorbing more b vitamins and folate.
Be sure to check with your health practitioner before making any changes to your diet or supplementation plan, however.
3. Identify food intolerances. Many patients with skin conditions or poor skin also have underlying food intolerances and can benefit from food intolerance testing. This is because some people will produce antibodies in response to foods that they eat and these antibodies can trigger an inflammatory response within the body. Food sensitivity panels can allow you to see which foods might be triggering this response and adding to the load on your liver. Keep an eye out for wheat/gluten intolerances or sensitivity.
4. Support your gut health with probiotic and prebiotic foods. The gut microbiota influences the level of inflammation in the body also and stress and gut inflammation can also cause leaky skin (similar to leaky gut) where an impaired epidermal barrier leads to an increased chance of toxin leakage and skin conditions. If testing is available and you have a sustained history of skin conditions, check for gut pathologies, such as H. Pylori, SIBO, parasites and intestinal permeability. Consider keeping your gut as healthy as possible with a good quality pre and probiotic too!
5. Eat in sync with your circadian rhythm. Try and keep your meals within an 8 hour eating window, with your lightest meal being dinner. Try to avoid food at least 3 hours before bed, too - this is when the liver needs to detox!
6. Consider using a castor oil pack! This is a great way to help detoxing the liver and when you put this pack on your liver, you can open the lymphatic system so that it, and other organs within the body can drain better.
7. Address heavy metal toxicity. Heavy metals are also detoxed in the liver. If you have started to work on your liver detoxification, gut health and diet but are seeing little change, consider testing for heavy metals that may be causing skin flares by further overburdening your liver.
8. Consider stress management. Stress, nervous system dysregulation and dysregulation of the HPA axis are being increasingly shown to be connected to skin conditions and the health of your liver. Consider techniques to practice daily such as grounding, walking in nature, conscious
breathwork, meditation or yoga, to help regulate the nervous system and the body’s stress response. Plus - remember - always MOVE THROUGH YOUR EMOTIONS! This will help you move out of fight and flight mode and into your parasympathetic nervous system.
9. Think about your water source. Make sure you are hydrating with clean filtered water. Tap water is full of toxins and when you drink it, you become the filter. We recommend Pure Elements Water for a custom home filter.
10. Avoid detergents and other topical irritants. These irritants can exacerbate inflammation and actually increase the severity of skin conditions. Avoid where possible.
Today's world is full of various forms of toxins, making liver detoxification one of the most important parts of a health regime - not only for general health and wellbeing, but also for good, glowing skin.
Understanding the connection between liver health and skin health is a much overlooked and misunderstood part of the puzzle. If you want fewer breakouts, better skin condition and quality, and a better glow, remember to focus on looking inside the body at your liver and your liver health, as well as what’s happening on the outside.
At Agent Nateur, we passionately believe in chemical free ingredients that are safe for our bodies, our livers - and that support our wider liver health. With our products, and an understanding of what is going on deeper inside the body, it is the perfect combination to optimum health, wellbeing and beauty.
Glowing skin, coming up!
By Louise Rumball
***THESE STATEMENTS HAVE NOT BEEN APPROVED OR REGULATED BY THE FDA. WE ARE NOT DOCTORS, THEREFORE ALWAYS CONSULT WITH YOUR DOCTOR FIRST.