Tag: skin/hair

How to Support Healthy Skin Bacteria

Last week, I introduced the concept of the skin biome: the vast communities of microbes living on and in our skin. For some, it was unsettling. Gut microbes are out of sight, out of mind. But skin microbes are on us. They’re crawling, reproducing, digesting, and secreting various fluids and lipids all over the surface of our bodies. In people who’ve been conditioned to use soap and water to remove every last trace of bacteria from our hands and skin, the idea that our hands, faces, arms, and torsos are teeming with microbes – and that it’s probably unwise to remove them all – is hard to swallow. We might even recoil at the thought. I mean, viruses and mites living on us? Really?

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What’s Living on Your Skin?

The average human body has about 1.2 square meters of skin. Scattered across and nestled in its myriad crevasses and canyons would lie trillions of bacteria, fungi, viruses, and mites. Before you shudder and reach for the bleach and a stiff scouring brush, remember the importance of cultivating and supporting the billions of bacteria living in your gut. Recall the vital roles they play (that we know about) in our health and realize that the skin microbiome isn’t any different. Although research is young, we are learning that the critters living on our skin, who number in the billions per centimeter of skin, are supposed to be there. And even though we don’t know exactly all they’re doing, we know this:

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A Primal Primer: Leaky Gut

After I mentioned it in last week’s 10 Principles of Primal Living (Finally) Getting Mainstream Media Coverage post, several readers emailed asking about leaky gut. What is it? How do I know if I have it? Why should I care if I have it? What do I do if I have it? And so on. Turns out many and maybe most people have but a vague idea of what leaky gut actually means.

Today, I’m going to fix that.

In most popular conceptions of human physiology, the gut exists primarily as a passive conduit along which food travels and breaks down for digestion and absorption. It’s where bacteria hang out and digestive enzymes go to work. It’s a “place,” an inert tunnel made of flesh and mucus. Lots of things happen there but the gut itself isn’t doing much.

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Are Your Skin Problems an Autoimmune Issue? – Answers, Solutions, plus a New Primal Book!

Today’s guest post is from my good friend Tara Grant, truly a budding superstar in the Primal/paleo/ancestral health movement. Tara started out as a success story (“Tons of Doctors and No Solution” – one of the most visited stories in our entire archive; and also on the pages of the The Primal Blueprint 21-Day Total Body Transformation), and has leveraged her Primal success (she went from 245 lbs to 159 lbs in around 18 months in ’09-’10) like few others: She’s a veteran PrimalCon presenter, has delivered numerous Primal Blueprint Transformation Seminars, and recently completed a remarkable book called The Hidden Plague, which details the painful and poorly understood skin condition of Hidradenitis supprativa (HS).

Tara has become an underground legend in the online autoimmune community for helping people solve frustrating skin conditions such as HS (and assorted other autoimmune issues) with a methodically designed diet-based protocol that identifies trigger foods and promotes natural healing of the digestive tract and immune system. Her post today might resonate with many of us who deal with mild to significant skin issues the traditional way (lotions, potions, creams, prescriptions) with less than stellar results. For example, I flipped a copy of her food restriction protocol to a friend of mine who’s suffered from psoriasis and been under medical care for 40 years…She reported immediate and dramatic improvements after following Tara’s protocol. Enjoy Tara’s post and learn more about the book below…

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25 Safer Alternatives to Common Cosmetics

These are chemicals you probably aren’t too excited about in common personal care products like shampoos, conditioners, deodorants, sunblocks, and makeups – you know, the stuff you’re covering yourself in everyday. Cosmetics manufacturers use these ingredients to improve their product’s ability to clean, moisturize, beautify, or improve an odor, but they often do lots of other bad stuff in the process. So the question is, do these products need these chemicals to work like we want them to, or are there alternative products that manage to use more natural and/or less harmful ingredients while still getting the job done? Indeed, there are, and today I’m going to share my findings with you.

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5 Chemicals in Cosmetics You Should Avoid

Have you ever wondered just what’s in all those products you slather, spray, spritz, apply, and rub onto your body? I mean, who hasn’t tried to kill time in the shower by hunkering down with a good shampoo bottle ingredient list? It’s a laundry list of unpronounceable words separated by dozens of hyphens. In short, it all appears to be a big bottle of chemicals. Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with a “chemical.” Most everything can be called a chemical; ever heard of dihydrogen monoxide? But not all chemicals are benign, particularly the manmade, industrial ones created to fulfill a specific purpose in a product. They likely do their intended job very, very well, but it’s difficult to impossible to account for any other effects a chemical might have on an organism.

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How to Take a Better Bath

The act of taking a bath doesn’t necessarily need gussying up. Simply submerging your body in hot water and rubbing yourself with an emulsifying agent will get you clean enough, with the potentially added benefits of wicking away stress and inducing relaxation. But in this age of high-tech shower heads and limited free time, the utilitarian shower has won out over the bath. You don’t have to wait for the tub to fill, you’re not stewing in your own juices, and the added pressure of the shower helps blast dirt, skin cells, and natural oils from your body. The bath just can’t compete with the shower for its cleaning prowess.

Who takes baths for cleanliness, though? Let’s face it: a bath is about relaxation. It’s about treating yourself, soothing sore muscles, catching up on a good book, and letting go and forgetting about the madness of what just transpired that day. It’s a mini-vacation. And there may even be some health benefits. Like anything with those qualities, it can probably be improved upon, or “hacked,” if you will. If we care about our health – and how much we enjoy the little things that make life worth living – we owe it to ourselves to take a better bath.

Here’s how to do it:

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Dear Mark: The Purpose of Body Hair and the Non-Essentiality of Dietary Cholesterol

In today’s edition of Dear Mark, I finally field a question that has been weighing heavily on the hearts and minds of the ancestral health community: body hair. I will tell you that there has been a lot of behind the scenes chatter between big names in the community about just how to tackle this question, and until now, no one has stepped up. To be frank, no one really knew what to say. No one wanted to commit. I certainly didn’t, but then I got this email from Natasha and I realized that something had to be done. The people couldn’t wait til the roundtable discussion on chest hair scheduled for the next PaleoFX or Loren Cordain’s keynote speech at AHS 13 on the evolutionary purpose of arm hair. They needed to know why body hair exists, and they needed to know now. After that, I cover the less exciting topic of the non-essentiality of dietary cholesterol. In other words, if we can make it, why do we need to eat it? I go over why that question misses the entire point, and more.

Let’s go:

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Dear Mark: Adding a Workout to an Active Life and Topical Wound Ointments

We’ve got a nice pair of questions for today’s Dear Mark. In the first, a young woman who’s perhaps the most intuitively active person I’ve ever heard about asks whether or not she should incorporate a dedicated, formal workout to her schedule of skiing, playing with dogs, hiking, manipulating heavy bags of dog food (in a physical sense, not an emotional sense), yoga, and rafting. You guys might be able to guess the gist of my response, but read on to find out what I say. In the second, a guy asks about topical ointments that promote wound healing. As a response, I discuss the standard over the counter ointments (antibiotic ointments, petroleum jelly-based ointments) as well as the more “natural” alternatives like honey, coconut oil, and garlic.

Let’s go.

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Dear Mark: Flexibility vs. Mobility, Orange Skin, and Radioactive Matcha

I’m going to keep today’s question and answer session rather brief. I’ll be covering three topics: flexibility and mobility; carotenoderma, or the orange-ing of the skin following ingestion of carotenoid-containing foods; and whether matcha green tea from Japan poses any threat due to radioactive contamination. For the first, I discuss whether it’s flexibility or mobility we want. Second, I explore whether getting orange skin from eating lots of carrots, sweet potatoes, and squash is something to worry about. And finally, I talk about drinking matcha from Japan in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear event.

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