A problem I’ve suffered with since I was an early teen is acne/pimples/spots/whatever-you-want-to-call-it. I mean, in reality it hasn’t always been terrible, but it’s never been great. A huge motivator for me to see the naturopath last year was to get my skin under control.
One of the things I’ve learnt since starting on my natural health and plant based journey is that our bodies are like a complex machine: when one part breaks, everything goes offline or another part might stop working or it might cause a negative reaction somewhere else. And it can be so frustrating to fix (as anyone who has ever tried to find where that ONE STUPID NOISE is coming from in a car, for example). This is what it has been like on my skin journey.
Last year when I started reading books about plant based diets, I also started learning about beauty products and the disgusting amount of chemicals in them and how much damage it could (and does) do us. Whenever I’ve wanted to do something, I am always want to do it RIGHT NOW, I don’t bother waiting until I’ve got the right things to do it with, I make do just so I can do whatever it is right now. I hate waiting for things. So when I first began my journey, I dove straight in head first. I stopped using all products with chemicals in it, I bought all new natural make up and beauty products and I (tried) to give up all animal products all at once. In the end, I really should have taken my time.
My body went crazy; attempting to detox 23 years, I’m assuming. My skin flared up worse than I have ever seen it before. This was so embarrassing to me. I was 23 and I had worse skin problems than a pubescent teenager. I couldn’t understand why my body was betraying me. The naturopath told me it was hormonal and gave me lots of different herbs to take. But nothing worked. In the end, it made me so down, I started using my old cleanser and toner…Proactive. Probably one of the worst products in terms of chemicals! Since then I have allowed myself to have this one product that wasn’t natural, even though I hated it. I hated having to use it.
Over the year, and it’s been almost exactly a year since I last attempted to give up Proactive, I have done a lot more research, I have tried, failed and tried again at a plant based diet, I have given up all meat and animal products, and I have 85% of the time given up animal by-products. I’ve started exercising regularly again, I’ve been working a lot on mental and emotional wellness and I’ve been working on hormonal health.
Two of the most vital pieces of information I’ve learnt though are:
1) Our skin is our largest organ and it is an excretory organ – it removes unwanted material from our body. The skin also absorbs toxins straight into the blood stream, which is actually worse than ingesting toxins orally!
2) “Among other functions, our digestive system…is the main place where we dispel toxins through elimination. If the digestive system isn’t working optimally, breakouts, eczema, redness and dull skin can ensue. When the digestive system struggles to eliminate toxins effectively, it will partner up with other organs and eliminate toxins that way. Since your skin is your body’s largest organ, it’s no surprise that acne, rosacea, and dermatitis crop up when something’s off internally” (Mind, Body, Green 2013)
So all of a sudden it makes sense. With all the products I’ve used over my lifetime (and I’ve tried pretty much everything on the market) and my digestive system, which in our modern world is under a lot of pressure to digest not-real foods, it’s no wonder my skins is terrible. Before I decided to go off proactive completely, I decided to wait and work on correcting my digestive system. Aside from the Proactive, all my other beauty products are natural, non-chemical laden products. Last time, I tried to come off Proactive, I was eating a heavy diet of meat, not enough vegetables, and lots of processed foods and sugars and I was using a tonne of heavily laden chemical products.
Poor digestion is super common now and can be caused by lots of stress, too much dairy, eating a lot of processed foods, refined carbs and sugar, dehydration and not chewing your food properly. If our digestive system isn’t working well than “foods that are not properly digested ferment and putrefy in the intestinal tract and produce toxic byproducts that are absorbed back into the body” (Jessica Ainscough, 2010). This internal waste can build up overtime, making it even more difficult for us to digest food properly.
So what have I done to try and improve my digestive system?
- Adopting a plant based diet
- Eating significantly less sugar and refined carbs
- Eating more salads than every before
- Dealing with stress better
- Green smoothies almost every day
- Adding spirulina to my smoothies every day
- A squeeze of lemon juice in warm water in the mornings to wake up the digestive juices
- Chewing my food better
- Stopping the Pill
- Herbal teas like peppermint after some meals
Obviously, the biggest factor there is adopting a plant based diet.
I’m please to now say, that I’m 3 weeks or so with no Proactive! While I have gotten a few pimples, it is nothing like before. I have started using Mukti, beautiful, organic products produced on the Sunshine Coast and using a mask of clay every few days. I’m scared I’ve spoken too soon, but I really feel like it’s a lot better. I’m excited to see how it goes over the long term, but I really hope it’s worked this time.
To further help my digestive system, I really want to eat more fermented foods, perhaps take a probiotic supplement and perhaps look into digestive enzymes.