Skin and Colon Health

Is Beauty really only skin deep? Hmmm, let’s look a little closer at this and really see how deep it goes. Skin is the body’s largest organ and it functions as part of the integumentary system, which works to protect the body from different kinds of damage. Your skin shields you from environmental elements, ultraviolet radiation, chemicals, weather conditions, and microbes. Skin also contains nerves that allow us to access sensations like touch, heat, and cold. What is interesting about the human body is the correlation of the colon and the skin. When people come to my clinic with skin problems, most are not aware that the colon and skin are connected by neural arc reflex points as known and taught in the field of Iridology. Most people who have skin conditions of any kind also have poor colon health. Let’s get the skinny !

There are three main layers of skin that offer all of these amazing protections and there are also specific nutrients that control the health of each layer, let’s look at this amazing organ a little closer.

1. The Epidermis

The epidermis is the water-resistant outer layer of skin and the body’s first line of defense against environmental elements, ultraviolet radiation, bacteria, and other germs. It’s made up of 4-5 sublayers of closely packed cells. The epidermis is responsible for the cell renewal cycle: dead skin cells slough off the stratum corneum (the superficial sublayer of skin visible to the eye) and are replaced with new, healthy cells that generate within deeper sublayers of the epidermis. This can only happen when the right nutrients are in place to fully heal and repair the epidermis. The epidermis also includes your pores, which allow oil and dirt to escape your body. Dry skin brushing can help this aspect of your overall health regime. We will discuss this later on.

The epidermis contains several specialized cells, including:

  • Keratinocyte cells that create and store keratin, the protein that strengthens skin
  • Langerhans cells that help prevent infection and protect the immune system
  • Melanocyte cells that produce melanin, the pigment that determines skin color
  • Squamous cells and basal cells, which can mutate and cause basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma

Each one of the cells are controlled by specific nutrients which help the overall process in their healing cycle. The Keratinocyte cells need a complete protein with all 9 essential amino acids to build the Keratin completely. It also needs Calcium, Magnesium, Manganese, Sulphur and Silicon as the base layer. It needs Vitamin D, Vitamin K and Biotin specifically to strengthen the skins surface.

The Langerhans cells need Zinc and Vitamin C to help protect the overall immune system as its first line of defense against all disease along with Vitamins B-11 and B-12. The Melanocyte cell needs, Iron and Copper along with Vitamin E and F. This helps with proper pigmentation of the skin based on your genetic makeup. The Squamous cells and basal cells need Sodium and Potassium due to the proper ratio of cellular fluid needed here and throughout the body. This keeps the proper of ratio of cellular fluid in the skin for healthy hydration levels. It also needs Vitamins D because research has proven that adequate amounts of Vitamin D keeps deadly melanoma skin cancer cells from reproducing.

2. The Dermis

The dermis is the layer of skin under the epidermis. This layer of skin contains connective tissues and houses your body’s hair follicles, sweat and oil glands, and blood vessels. The dermis also contain nerve endings that are responsible for sending messages to the brain when you burn your hand on a hot stove or feel an itch at the back of your neck. Blood vessels located in the dermis help supply your skin with fresh blood carrying the oxygen and nutrients it needs to be healthy.

Within its connective tissues, the dermis produces two important proteins:

  • Collagen and elastin, which are responsible for the shape, structure, firmness, and elasticity of your skin.
    The dermis layer needs protein in the form of collagen type 1 &2 along with B- Complex vitamins. It also needs calcium, and magnesium to allow the messengers of the skin to transport the messages without being pre-maturely being oxidized before reaching the brain. These two nutrients are extremely important in the overall health of the skin due to the buffering effect on the entire body.

3. The Hypodermis

The hypodermis is made of subcutaneous (under the skin) fats, connective tissues, blood vessels, and nerve cells. It’s the layer of skin where fat is deposited and stored. The blood vessels in the hypodermis are bigger and connect to the rest of your body. Stored fat helps regulate body tissue and cushion your body’s internal organs against bumps, hard impact, and falls.

The tissue in the hypodermis produces one important cell:

  • Adipocytes that store fat used for energy, cushioning, and insulation.

The hypodermis needs Bioflavonoids along with Vitamin C and Vitamin E to prevent from bruising, scaring and to help with cuts and post-surgical wounds. Specific minerals needed are Calcium, Magnesium and Sulphur because the Sulphur binds the two minerals to the fat allowing them to transport the energy through the skin at the precise levels for proper insulation barrier.
As we can see, nutrition is very important and should always be of first when trying to heal the skin as well as the entire body.

Nutrition is the single most important aspect to healing and keeping the body healthy and free from all forms of disease. There are 22 minerals that the human body needs on a daily basis. When the body is low in just one of these valuable minerals, your body can develop up to 10 different diseases. The skin is the largest organ on the body. It requires 10 minerals and 7 Vitamins in order to be healthy at all times.

The following seventeen nutrients are the most important for the health of the colon and skin. It is always preferred to get your nutrients from food (or sunlight) rather than from supplements when possible however, most will agree and understand in today’s modern times, that’s almost impossible, therefore the need for increased supplementation is important in many cases. At my clinic we always do a Vitamin, Minerals and Amino Acids test up front to detect what a person may or may not need so they know what is missing and really needed for optimal health of the entire body.


Calcium is called the knitter of the body and mends everything back together when torn, cut, scratched or even bruised. Calcium is the second most abundant mineral in the body and is extremely important in the overall healing of any cell structure and the skin is certainly no different.

The best sources of good bioavailable calcium are, greens, kale, beet tops, cabbage, romaine lettuce, alfalfa sprouts, agar, almonds, avocados, coconut, kelp, goats milk and sesame seeds. If you do our VMA test and we see that you are low in Calcium, we can put you on my Custom Minerals which will take care of 22 minerals in the right combination or you can take our Pro-Calcium, plus which has the correct ratio of calcium to magnesium in it for proper assimilation.

2. Zinc

Zinc helps maintain the structure of cell membranes and proteins and has anti-inflammatory effects. Zinc activates a protein called collagenase, which allows cells to remodel collagen during wound healing. Zinc supplementation has been shown to reduce gut barrier permeability, and it may help leaky skin as well. The earliest sign of zinc deficiency is usually patches of dry skin. Evidence suggests that supplemental zinc may reduce acne – in some cases, it has even been shown to be as effective as tetracycline antibiotics. This may be because it helps regulate sebum production in the sebaceous glands.

The best sources of dietary zinc are liver, kidney, beef, lamb, and shellfish. Plant foods like nuts and pumpkin seeds can be high in zinc, but it is less bioavailable due to high levels of phytates that bind the zinc. You can also supplement with my Pro-Zinc at 100-500ppm depending what the individual needs are and get on track very quickly with this type of supplement. Care should be taken to balance zinc and copper intake. I do this will all my patients.

3. Vitamin A

Vitamin A modulates skin growth factors, promotes epidermal differentiation, inhibits sebaceous gland activity, and suppresses androgen formation. It also inhibits enzymes that degrade collagen with aging. Vitamin A has also been shown to induce gut-homing regulatory T cells and promote tolerance of the gut mucosal immune system. Synthetic Vitamin A derivatives have been used for decades as an effective treatment for severe acne and psoriasis. Rough dry skin and keratosis pilaris, or “sandpaper” bumps on the backs of the arms, are common signs of vitamin A deficiency. Transport of Vitamin A in the blood depends on zinc, so these two nutrients may work together promote the health of the colon, skin, and immune system.

The best source of bioavailable Vitamin A is liver and cod liver oil. Vitamin A can also be obtained from the precursor beta-carotene, which is found in carrots, sweet potatoes, collards, and asparagus. It is important to understand that absorption of beta-carotene is very poor unless these foods are paired with a good source of fat.

4. Vitamin D

Vitamin D is produced in the skin in response to UV light. Vitamin D helps regulate skin cell metabolism and growth and has been shown to be helpful in the treatment of itching and psoriasis.

Vitamin D metabolism results in the formation of cathelicidin, which has antimicrobial properties. Cathelicidin deficiency can predispose to certain types of eczema.

Vitamin D also has benefits for the colon. The colon expresses very high levels of the Vitamin D receptor. Vitamin D in the colon has been shown to help maintain gut barrier function and a balance of good gut bacteria. Deficiency of Vitamin D has been associated with an increased risk of inflammatory bowel disease therefore it’s extremely important that we get sufficient amounts of good sunlight when we can and we cannot, supplement your diet with my Pro-Vita D with your main meals 2-3 times daily.

Whenever possible, it’s best to get Vitamin D from sunlight. In cases where adequate sunlight cannot be obtained, I recommend supplementing with my Pro-Vita D until blood levels of 25’OH-D reach 35-50 ng/mL. Those with autoimmune disease or autoimmune-like skin conditions may benefit from a level closer to 50 ng/mL.

5. Vitamin C

Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant and can help prevent UV-induced skin damage. It is also essential for several enzymes involved in the synthesis of collagen. Deficiency of Vitamin C causes scurvy, with the first signs and symptoms being rough, dry skin and abnormal hair growth. Vitamin C deficiency may also contribute to skin wrinkling and impaired wound healing.

Good sources of Vitamin C include bell peppers, dark leafy greens, broccoli, brussels sprouts, citrus fruits, kiwi, guava, strawberries, and certain herbs. You can also safely supplement with 1,000 – 2,000mg. of my Pro-Vita C broken down into 500mg taken every 4 hours for better assimilation. I recommend one made from concentrated berries like camu-camu and acerola, as these also have the added benefit of other bioflavonoids, polyphenols, and antioxidants.

6. Selenium

Selenium is an essential trace mineral and a component of the selenoprotein glutathione peroxidase (GPx), an enzyme that helps regenerate glutathione, the body’s master antioxidant. Studies have found that patients with severe acne have low levels of selenium and GPx activity and that supplementing with selenium can increase GPx activity and reduce acne severity. Selenium may also protect the skin against UV damage.

Glutathione is also required for normal colon function, protecting epithelial cell membranes from damage and helping to maintain the fluidity of the mucus layer, and depletion of glutathione increases bacterial translocation from the colon. Selenium-enriched diets have also been shown in increase colon microbial diversity.
Sources of selenium include brazil nuts, walnuts, liver, herring, onion, and poultry. You may also add my Pro-Selenium which will give you the highest assimilation available. For maximum absorption, iodine and selenium should typically be supplemented together.

7. Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin and the most abundant antioxidant in the skin. It is delivered onto the skin surface via the sebum and then penetrates all the underlying layers of skin. Vitamin E is essential for protecting the cells of the skin from free radical damage due to sun exposure and other inflammatory insults. Deficiency is extremely common, particularly in those with inflammatory gut conditions and fat malabsorption, and can alter collagen cross-linking and cause skin ulcerations.

Most Americans get their Vitamin E from industrial seed oils like soybean, canola, and corn oil, but the preferred sources of Vitamin E are almonds, eggs, walnuts, avocados, asparagus, spinach and other leafy greens, sunflower seeds, and olives. Once again if you are having a problem getting adequate amounts of this food in on a daily basis, my Pro-Vita E supplement taken after your main meals will help with this.

8. Silica (silicon)

Silica is a lesser-known trace mineral that can have a major impact on skin health. Several enzymes required for the synthesis of collagen and formation of connective tissue depend on silica. Silica may, therefore, help improve the appearance of the skin and reduce signs of skin aging.

Food sources of silica include leeks, apples, green beans, strawberries, cucumber, oranges, mango, celery, asparagus, fish, and seeds. Oat straw tea is also a great source of silica.

9. B Vitamins

Riboflavin (Vitamin B2): deficiency of riboflavin can cause lesions on the outside of the lips, corners of the mouth, dermatitis, and other inflammatory skin conditions.

Niacin (Vitamin B3) is crucial for DNA and fatty acid synthesis. The classic niacin deficiency disease, pellagra, is characterized by dermatitis, among other symptoms. Topically, niacin has been shown to help increase moisture in the skin, reduce skin aging, and is a fairly effective treatment for acne, rosacea, or redness of the skin, though few studies with oral niacin and skin health have been performed.

Pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5) plays a central role in metabolism and accelerates wound healing by increasing cell division and speeding up cellular migration. It also increases levels of glutathione.

Vitamin B6 is involved in the conversion of the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate to the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA. GABA has been shown to reduce the feeling of itch. Vitamin B6 also acts as a cofactor for diamine oxidase, the enzyme that degrades histamine, and supports methylation. Deficiency results in scaly dermatitis.

Biotin (Vitamin B7) acts as an essential cofactor for enzymes that regulate the metabolism of fatty acids. Fatty acids are crucial for preventing water loss from the skin. Deficiency of biotin causes hair loss and a scaly, erythematous or seborrheic dermatitis that often develops around the mouth or on the face and scalp.

Methylcobalamin (Vitamin B12) and folate (Vitamin B9) are involved in the methylation cycle, which is how the body detoxifies substances and eliminates them from the body. Deficiencies of folate and B12 are common in those with celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, or SIBO. Folate deficiency can result in dermatitis, while Vitamin B12 likely influences the composition of the microbiota.

B vitamins are found in a wide variety of foods, but are most abundant in meat, especially organ meats, eggs and brown rice. Some B vitamins are also produced by the gut microbiota. You can also supplement with my Pro-Bio B complex, which has the activated forms of these vitamins (methyltetrahydrofolate, methylcobalamin, and pyridoxal-L-phosphate). Keep in mind that high-dose B12 may exacerbate acne in some individuals.

10. Vitamin K2

Vitamin K2 synergizes with vitamin A and vitamin D and is required for many of their functions. Vitamin K2 binds calcium and prevents the calcification of elastin, a protein that keeps the skin stretched tight and wrinkle-free.

Good sources of Vitamin K2 include grass-fed dairy products, pastured egg yolks, liver, and fermented foods like sauerkraut. Gut bacteria can convert some K1, primarily found in leafy green vegetables, into vitamin K2. Vitamin K can also be supplemented as high-vitamin butter oil or Vitamin D3/K2 combo.

11. Manganese

Manganese is not typically included in a discussion of nutrients for skin health. Yet it is the number one mineral in the body. Manganese is required for collagen synthesis, and deficiency can cause slow hair and nail growth and a reddening of the skin. Deficiency can also cause miliaria crystallina, commonly called “heat rash” or “sweat rash”, a form of dermatitis that results from blocked sweat glands, which appear as tiny clear bubbles on the skin. This can also occur from sunburn, fever, or excessive sweating. Manganese is also required for the function of superoxide dismutase, which protects against oxidative stress in the mitochondria of the gut and skin.

Good sources of manganese include seafood, nuts, seeds, spinach, pomegranates, and black tea. You can also supplement by adding my Pro-Manganese to your program pre-bed.

12. Iron

Iron is a cofactor for the enzymes prolyl hydroxylase and lysyl hydroxylase, which catalyze the formation of hydroxyproline39 and hydroxylysine, respectively. These modified amino acids are crucial for the structural stability of collagen. Severe iron deficiency leads to anemia, which can cause pale skin, fatigue, weakness, and lightheadedness. This can also influence the gut and skin since blood is preferentially shunted to the brain and heart.

The heme form of iron is the most bioavailable. Heme iron is found in clams, oysters, liver, venison, mussels, and beef. Non-heme iron can be found in pumpkin seeds, hazelnuts, spinach, tomatoes, and some herbs. Iron absorption is increased by vitamin C, and reduced by egg yolks, oxalates, phytates, polyphenols, and calcium. I do not recommend supplementing with iron unless absolutely necessary since unabsorbed iron can promote the growth of gut pathogens. My Pro-Iron is in an elemental format and is absorbed at 97.5% in just a few moments so you don’t have to worry about this with my product.

13. Magnesium

Magnesium is a cofactor for more than 300 enzymes, including many involved in the production of cellular energy. Magnesium is important for maintaining normal gut barrier function, and deficiency of magnesium has been shown to alter the gut microbiota and lead to depressive-like behavior. Magnesium can also help with gut motility and bowel regularity. Topically applied magnesium salts have also been shown to accelerate skin barrier recovery.

Good sources of magnesium include almonds, cashews, spinach, avocado, bananas, salmon, and halibut. Magnesium content is heavily dependent on soil concentration of magnesium, and most people will not be able to get enough through food alone. I highly recommend supplementing with my Pro-Cal plus daily pre bed.

14. Potassium

Potassium is an essential electrolyte in the body and the major positively charged ion in the intracellular space. Potassium, therefore, helps control the volume of cells and helps the skin stay moisturized. It also helps the skin produce new skin cells. Deficiency in potassium can lead to dry skin and hair loss.

Many fruits and vegetables are good sources of potassium. Potassium is highest in potatoes, sweet potatoes, plantains, squash, mushrooms, tomatoes, bananas, and avocados. Some fish, such as salmon and halibut, also contain potassium. The average American consumes less than half of the estimated potassium intake of our hunter-gatherer ancestors. If a person is lacking in this nutrient, I may supplement their diet with my Pro-Potassium supplement pre-bed

15. Sulfur

Sulfur is an extremely important nutrient and the third most abundant mineral in the body. Animals fed a diet deficient in sulfur produce less collagen, suggesting that sulfur is required for collagen synthesis. Sulfur is also required for the crosslinking of keratin filaments in the epidermis. Sulfur is also required for the synthesis of the glutathione, an endogenous antioxidant important for protecting the gut, skin, and other tissues from free radical damage.

Sources of sulfur include egg yolks, poultry, red meat fish, garlic, onions, asparagus, brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, and kale. Fermentation may increase the bioavailability of sulfur in cruciferous vegetables.

16. Copper

Copper activates an enzyme called lysyl oxidase, which cross-links mature collagen fibers with other supportive fibers like elastin, helping to form a scaffold that keeps skin strong. Copper is also important for mitochondrial health and is a cofactor for several antioxidant enzymes. Copper deficiency may exacerbate histamine intolerance, and can also cause hypopigmentation of the hair and skin. Lack of copper in one’s diet causes aneurysms.

Food sources of copper include beef liver, oysters, crab, dark chocolate, mushrooms, almonds, cashews, and sunflower seeds. If you supplement with copper, it’s very important to balance this with zinc. The ratio of zinc to copper should be kept between 2:1 and 5:1 for optimal health.

17. Choline

Choline is a vitamin-like nutrient that is a key component of the phospholipids that make up cell membranes. Choline is also a precursor to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which stimulates the production of gastric acid and is important for skin barrier integrity. The transport of fat and cholesterol from the liver also requires choline, so it is also important for moderating the colon-liver-skin axis.

The best sources of choline are beef liver, eggs, muscle meat, and fish. Plant foods like potatoes, brussels sprouts, and broccoli can also provide some choline. Choline can also be taken as a supplement in the phosphatidylcholine form. Some choline can be produced in the body from betaine, which may be more likely to be absorbed in those with gut dysbiosis or SIBO. The top food source of betaine is beets, spinach, sweet potato, and muscle meat. Those with SIBO should consider supplementing with betaine HCl with each main meal three times daily.
In the first part of this article, I mentioned dry skin brushing. Now let’s look at this a little closer. Dry skin brushing has been around since ancient history in many cultures such as the Japanese and American Indians to keep the body healthy.

The skin is the largest organ of the body and some of its main functions are:

  • Eliminating waste and toxins through perspiration.
  • Protecting the body’s internal organs and fluids.
  • Assisting the immune system by acting as a barrier to outside pathogens and foreign substances.
  • Helping to regulate body temperature.
  • Skin brushing for detoxification

The body’s process of eliminating waste and toxins is called detoxification. The liver, lungs, kidneys and colon are some of the other organs who have the job of helping the body get rid of waste products. The skin is another organ of elimination that helps the body carry away some of this waste through our sweat. Our bodies are constantly perspiring, and the skin eliminates an average of 1 to 2 pounds of waste through this perspiration process daily

The benefits of dry skin brushing

Skin brushing stimulates the skin and keeps the skin pores clear so that the body can perspire freely. This is important to health because if the pores get clogged and the body can’t perspire freely the waste will back-up. That backed-up excess waste and toxins get trapped and become a burden to the skin, body and the other organs of elimination.

Brushing your skin also stimulates oil glands that are in the second layer of skin, bringing this oil to the skins surface. This oil helps to protect the skin and increases the skin’s health, suppleness and elasticity. Skin brushing also stimulates blood circulation, balances fat distribution and increases nerve function throughout the skin organ.

Brushing the skin also has a positive effect on the immune system

Another benefit of brushing the skin is that it assists the movement of lymph, which is just under the skin, throughout the body. Lymph is a clear fluid that “circulates” throughout your body via the lymphatic system. This lymphatic system is separate from the blood’s circulatory system. Lymph carries the white blood cells of your immune system throughout the body to attack and neutralize viruses and other infectious substances. Lymph also carries nutrition to, and carries away waste from all the cells in the body even those that cannot be reached by the blood. This lymphatic system and its white blood cells are the main defense system of the body and the lymph is its carrier.

Your blood’s circulatory system of 15 pints has a heart to pump it around the body. The lymphatic system on the other hand has 45 pints of lymph and no pump to move it. It depends on surrounding muscle movement to push the lymph through the lymphatic system. Breathing and movement are what circulates your lymph. That is why exercise, deep breathing techniques and skin brushing can enhance the function of your immune system and improve your health. So the addition of skin brushing significantly helps the movement of lymph which enhances the health of your immune system and your whole body.

Dry skin brushing technique

Most skin brushes are made from natural vegetable bristles or natural cactus hair. Dry skin brushing has gained increased popularity in the past 20 years and the ones I use and sell at my clinic have a long handle and are easy to use, can reach your back and are easy to maintain.

Perform dry skin brushing before your shower or bath because that will help to stimulate your skin and wash away the flaked skin. Always brush up towards your heart for the most benefit to your circulation.

Start on the soles of your feet, generally using long, light but brisk strokes. Get your ankle, shin, calf and knee.

Then do the same on your other foot and lower leg. It helps for some to sit down.

Standing up, next brush upwards on your right and then left thigh from the knee up. Move over to your abdomen, brushing that with a circular motion.

Brush each arm, starting with the palm and brushing inward towards your heart. Gently brush the chest area in a circular motion, women avoid the breast area.

Brush the neck area by starting at the back of the neck and stroking with the brush towards the front (avoid your face).

Use the handle to get your back or better yet, have someone do it for you.

This should only take about 2- 3 minutes, especially once you get the hang of it.

Skin brushing tips

If more than one person in your family practices skin brushing for health, each person should have his or her own brush. Avoid brushing areas with skin cuts, wounds or rashes. Avoid the facial area, they make a special brush for that which is softer and better for that area. If you have any type of cancer, please check with a Naturopath to find out if skin brushing is okay for you.

Until next time, Stay healthy !
Dr. Jimmy Steger