Underlying causes / fixes for skin problems

Recalling Thomas Campbell's blockbuster book The China Study several issues come to mind.  One that really stuck with me was that the scientists that were introducing and contemplating the Western diet's effects when inserted into the Eastern communities noticed two things as common denominators: constipation and headaches.

What does this have to do with skin?  Well, the modern research is showing that the skin as actually an extension of the digestive tract.  As in it is "inside out skin".  This makes sense if you look at how its set up

Simply put, starting with the mouth and the esophagus, going down into the stomach, there is a sort of seamless  transition from the skin on the face and lips, all the way through.  This is why they say its "inside out skin".  

What this means practically is that what's good for the digestive tract is good for the skin.  And there is no shortage of skin problems in the U.S. these days.  I know I had really bad excema when I was younger.  And my diet was to blame.  Full of all the usual suspects: bad fats, like the kind found in potato chips.  Soda by the gallon, cheap dairy products, and lots of processed sugars and very little nutrients as well as zero supplementation.

When the China Study noticed that constipation was one of the first things that set in, this was just the tip of the iceberg.  And what about headaches?  What's that all about?  

Well it turns out its all related through the Vagus nerve, which is a direct communication circuit between the digestive tract and the brain.  The constipation was causing the headaches, but conversely the headaches also caused the constipation.  Its a two way street.  But back to skin....

Go to any European country and you will notice, as I did in Italy, immediately, that EVERYONE has better skin.  The women are exquisite.  Their skin and hair are luscious, not to mention not nearly the overweight epidemic we have in America.  Not to sound judgmental, but in a beauty contest, there would be no contest between Roman women and American.  Its the skin, hair and teeth!

So enough of that, here's how to fix skin problems, even stubborn ones like psoriasis and rosacea.  The even better news is that if its good for the skin its also good for the GI tract.  So these solutions will help with stubborn problems like diverticulitis, Crohn's, constipation, and cramps in general.  Total health!


This is one that most people know they should be taking, but are not.  Or, if they are, they may be taking the cheap stuff, which is diluted and not as effective.  You must find high quality omega-3 fish oils.  You can also get the omega-3s, like DHA and EPA as well as CLA, in nuts, some legumes, and of course quality fish.  Think of fatty fish.  However, only get Wild fish.  This is very important.  Farmed fish like salmon are sprayed to look just like the real deal, but the omega-3 / 6 ratios are skewed because of the food pellets they consume.  This goes for any meat.  If they aren't on a natural diet (like cows eating grass, chickens eating bugs / grass / etc) then the omega profile will be skewed.  Omega 6's are important but in moderation, otherwise they are inflammatory and this is what we want to avoid in the first place.  So farmed fish WILL NOT give you the benefits!  Also, quality olive oil.  There's problems here as well...believe it or not the Italian mob is making counterfeit and cheap oils and passing them off as the real deal.  Can't make this stuff up folks.  Try to look up the quality brands online.  Good luck.


In America men need approximately 35 grams of fiber per day and women need 25.  Most people are deficient and this is part of the reason for the "constipation / headache" conundrum.  Fiber does several things but most importantly is it keeps the bowels moving.  This helps remove toxins that build up in the digestive tract.  These toxins, overtime, will absorb into the blood and make their way to...you guessed it...the skin.  This is one reason why looking at someone's skin quality is an important factor in determining their nutrition plan.  Blotchy skin is not just some nuisance, it is a symptom of a poor diet and possibly low fiber.  Of course if you have particular digestive issues it may be necessary to limit raw veggies which could irritate an already inflamed system.  Boiling veggies and getting them to a softer consistency can help.  Good sources are broccoli, spinach, some nuts, seeds, legumes and fruits.  Can you see how these sources of fiber are also some good sources of omega-3's and nutrition in general?  Its all connected.


Our digestive tracts are collectively shot in the U.S. and one reason is the prolific destruction of the microbiome from a variety of causes.  Too much alcohol, rounds of antibiotics, pesticides, herbicides and more all destroy valuable gut bacteria.  This causes problems.  Also, using too many antibiotic sources directly on the skin and in the mouth kill off valuable flora.  Think listerine is good?  Think again.  Thankfully science is catching up and probiotics / prebiotics are available in food and supplement form.  Fermented foods and vinegar containing foods help replenish the gut bacteria naturally.  And the best part?  You don't have to be exact in most cases.  Just eat the fermented foods.  Think of things like olives and pickles or pickled vegetables.  For this reason I recommend the Mediterranean diet because naturally it contains lots of healthy fats and fermented foods.  Yogurt can be good but if it is homogenized and pasteurized those probiotics may be as good as dead.  And of course there are supplements.


Probiotics should be a staple in everyone's diet because we cannot avoid all the toxins.  No matter how clean your diet is, you're still getting dirty water in hte soil, in the air, even in the magnetic frequencies we all are being bombarded with daily.


Collagen is one of the most abundant if not the most abundant amino acid in the body.  It is a very stretchy protein that helps to give the skin its elasticity.  Its in bones, teeth, tendons, and many other cells.  For this reason many turn to bone broth.  We've all heard about the bone broth diet.  Well, here's the main cause.  

You can get collagen in meat and fish, as well as soy based protein.  Also deep red vegetables and leafy green vegetables.  Again, most of the foods containing collagen are in general healthy.  It is ALL related.

Hopefully this gives some hope to those out there with pesky skin and digestive issues.  It doesn't have to be that way.  Even advanced skin conditions can be helped with proper dietary choices.  And don't forget about lots of water!

Ben Hetzel

Nutrition Specialist 

Health Coach

Benjamin Hetzel