Archive: Skin Health

LEAKY GUT, LEAKY WHAT? It May Be The Root Cause of Your Pain, Digestive Issues and Skin Rashes

Did you know that seemingly unrelated symptoms, such as headaches, joint pain, eczema, irritable bowel syndrome and autoimmune diseases may actually be caused by a digestive disturbance called leaky gut? And that by healing that condition, you may become free of these symptoms? abdominal-pain-2821941_640

You are probably wondering just what leaky gut is, what causes it and how you can heal from it.

What is Leaky Gut?

You can picture your digestive system like a large tube with small holes in it, like a net. This net allows the beneficial nutrients from your diet to pass through and enter into your bloodstream, to be delivered to cells, organs and tissues for use. This net should also be able to prevent harmful substances from getting through, thereby protecting your immune system and the rest of your body from negative reactions.

If you are eating foods that you are not digesting properly, these larger food particles cause micro-tears and damage to this net, allowing harmful food particles, toxins and bacteria to pass through and enter into your bloodstream. Your immune system actually sees these substances as threats, like it would to viruses or bacteria, and mounts an immune/inflammation reaction that can impact not only the digestive tract, but other areas of the body. You build antibodies to the food particles, which then can travel around the body and deposit in areas such as the joints, brain, and skin, causing not only digestive symptoms but also joint pain, headaches, brain fog, acne, eczema, and rosacea. It is important to note that digestive symptoms don’t always manifest with leaky gut…your warning sign that you may have it could be your recurrent headaches or arthritic symptoms. Each person reacts in their own unique way and you don’t have to have all of the above symptoms to be diagnosed with leaky gut.

Food Sensitivities vs. Food Allergies

Most people know someone who has an allergy to peanuts. If that person were to ingest anything with even a trace amount, they would go into anaphylaxis; meaning that their airways would constrict, their tongue would swell up and they would struggle to breath. If they didn’t get a shot of epinephrine within minutes, they could even die.

A food sensitivity reaction is much milder but still harmful to health. If you eat a food that your immune system reacts to (in a different way, producing what is called IgG antibodies, as opposed to the immediate-release IgE antibodies in a food allergy), a delayed reaction (up to 3 days after eating that food) occurs. Common food sensitivity reactions include: skin rashes, such as eczema, acne and rosacea; digestive issues, such as bloating, gas, abdominal pain, constipation or diarrhea;  and pain that can manifest in the joints or as a headache or migraine. Food sensitivities can also affect the immune system negatively, making it more likely that you get sick or suffer from an autoimmune condition. If you continue to eat the foods you are sensitive to, over time, you can develop leaky gut.

Additional Causes of Leaky Gut

Eating foods that you are sensitive to is not the only cause of leaky gut. Taking antibiotics can wipe out your good gut bacteria which are there to act as a protective lining to your digestive system. Toxins can damage your protective net, as can stress.

What You Can Do About It

  1. Identify and remove with foods you are sensitive to. This can be done by a simple blood test that your Naturopathic Doctor can order for you. This is the easiest way to determine your food sensitivities. Or, you can complete a month-long elimination diet, after which you would re-introduce the commonly offending foods and note any reactions.
  1. Repopulate your good gut bacteria. This involves eating fermented foods (such as kimchi and sauerkraut), eating organic and plain yogurt (I prefer homemade coconut milk yogurt, but you could eat either sheep or goat milk yogurt if you can tolerate them), and taking a high-potency, human-strain probiotic daily. If you suffer from leaky gut, food sources won’t give you enough; you will need to take a probiotic supplement.
  1. Repair the damage that has been done. Bone broth provides collagen and gut-healing amino acids. Herbs and nutrients, such as collagen powder, slippery elm, DGL and glutatmine are soothing and healing to the digestive tract.

After a period of at least 3 months of avoiding your food sensitivities and following this gut-healing program, you may be able to tolerate the foods you were sensitive to, eating them occasionally without eliciting a reaction. Some people may need to avoid their food sensitivities indefinitely to avoid reactions; each person is different.

Dr. Lisa Weeks, Naturopathic Doctor can order the food sensitivity blood test for you or prescribe an elimination diet and then create a unique gut-healing plan to heal your leaky gut to help get rid of headaches, joint pain, skin rashes and digestive complaints.

CONTACT Dr. Lisa to find out more TODAY.


Take the Plunge: Benefits of Hydrotherapy

Whenever I tell a patient what I do in the shower daily, they shoot a disturbed look my way and cringe: “How could you do that?” they ask, followed by: “I couldn’t imagine willingly putting myself through that torture every single day!” hydrotherapy

You might be wondering what I am talking about. You may be surprised by the answer: Cold Water Immersion, a form of Hydrotherapy that dates back to ancient times.

In its simplest form, ending your shower with 30-60 seconds of a cold water spray stimulates immunity, energizes and revitalizes the body and mind, improves: circulation and detoxification, skin and hair vibrancy and overall wellbeing.

On days that I have a little more time, I alternate hot and cold sprays in the shower using 3 minutes of hot water, followed by 1 minute of cold water and I repeat that for a total of 3 cycles.

Cold water immersion is now all the rage, with top-levels athletes, executives and even Tony Robbins on board.

Is there proof that it works? Yes. I swear by it for myself and my patients to ward off colds and the flu and to jump-start each day.

Immunity and the Common Cold

According to the Natural Standards Database, preliminary clinical evidence shows that taking alternating hot and cold showers, at least five times per week, decreased the frequency of the common cold. It works by increasing not only the circulation of blood and lymphatic fluid, but also by increasing the number of white blood cells to fight off infection.

By increasing the flow of lymphatic fluid and white blood cells, alternating hot and cold showers support detoxification, reduce joint pain and boost immune function.

Muscle soreness and inflammation

Cold water soothes sore and achy muscles post-workout. It reduces inflammation and can decrease the need to take pain-killers.

Happiness Levels, Energy and Mental Alertness

Those that took cold showers for at least 2-3 minutes daily for several weeks reported an improvement in mood and a reduction in pain. Cold water activates cold receptors in the skin, which in turn activates our sympathetic nervous system, increasing the release of our natural endorphins and brain-boosting neurotransmitters.

Try it – you just may be surprised at how invigorating it is. And, for the morning-afters when you polished off most of the wine, it can be a life-saver.

Note: Those with heart conditions, diabetic neuropathy, nerve or sensation loss or other serious medical conditions should always consult with a licensed healthcare practitioner before starting cold water therapy.

To Sunscreen or Not to Sunscreen

It felt like it would never come, but it is finally that time of year again! The sun is shining, the days are long, and your skin colour is starting to turn a fire-engine red…

Wait! That isn’t supposed to happen!

If you want to avoid looking like a lobster, prevent skin damage and wrinkles, and decrease your risk of skin cancer, it is time to start practising safe sun.

We do need some sun exposure for our body to produce vitamin D. About 10 minutes in the summer sun is usually enough for fair-skinned individuals to produce sufficient levels from UV-B rays (see below). Better yet, taking a vitamin D supplement throughout the year – especially during the wintertime – has been shown to help prevent osteoporosis, seasonal-affective disorder, respiratory tract infections, multiple sclerosis, and breast and colon cancer.

But too much sun can be harmful and increase your risk of cancer.

There are three types of UV rays.

  1. UV-A rays contribute toA  These do not cause burns, but are present even on cloudy days. Almost 99% of the UV rays that reach the earth are UV-A. They increase the production of harmful substances that damage our DNA and lead to skin cancer.
  2. UV-B rays contribute toB These rays directly damage DNA, leading to skin cancer. These rays also increase the production of melanin in our skin, which gives us a tanned or burnt look (which is a bad sign).
  3. UV-C rays lead toCancer and are the most harmful. Fortunately, the ozone layer prevents these rays from reaching us.

Follow these practical tips to protect yourself from the sun:

  • Cover up: Wear a hat and sunglasses (that protect against UV-A and UV-B rays), and use a sun umbrella on the beach and in your backyard.
  • Avoid the mid-day sun as much as possible from 11am–4pm when the rays are the strongest.
  • Check the UV index daily at Plan outdoor activities on low-risk days and exercise extra caution on high-risk days.
  • Increase your consumption of antioxidant-rich foods. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition in 2001 showed that daily intake of lycopene from tomato paste (1/3 can per day), along with olive oil (2tsp per day) for 10 weeks reduced the degree of sunburn by 40% as compared to placebo. Lycopene is an antioxidant found in high amounts in tomato paste, sauce and juice. It is the primary antioxidant for the skin. Also consider increasing your consumption of these antioxidant-rich foods:green tea, turmeric, blueberries, cherries, blackberries, pomegranates, artichokes, broccoli, red cabbage, walnuts, rosemary, cinnamon, cloves, garlic, oregano, cocoa, pecans, raw ginger, elderberry, acai and rosehips.
  • Use an appropriate sunscreen:
    • Avoid ingredients such as octybenzone, octinoxate, octisalate and octocrylene. These all can increase cellular damage. Octybenzone and octinoxate are the most harmful, as they may act as hormonal/endocrine disruptors, have reproductive and developmental toxicity, and have a high risk of allergy and phototoxicity.
    • Choose sunscreens with zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide.
    • Avoid sunscreens in spray or powder form to prevent inhalation of harmful substances.
    • Avoid purchasing products that have sunscreen and bug spray combined because the harmful substances will have increased absorption.
    • Check out the Environmental Working Group (EWG) website at  It is constantly updated with the newest safety information on sunscreens, moisturizers, cosmetics, etc.
    • The EWG lists the following sunscreens as the safest options: Aubrey Organics Natural Sun Unscented Sensitive Skin/Children Sunscreen SPF 30+, Aveeno Baby Natural Protection Mineral Block Face Stick SPF 50, Badger Baby Sunscreen SPF 30+, Green Beaver Company Certified Organic Kids Non-whitening Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30.

Now get out there and enjoy the nice weather, but be careful!

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is not meant to replace treatment with a licensed healthcare practitioner. It is for informational purposes only. Consult with a Naturopathic Doctor or other licensed healthcare professional to determine which treatments are safe for you.