The Healthy Skin Show 009: Rebuilding Your Gut Health w/ Summer Bock

What does gut health have to do with your skin? At first glance, it might not seem like much. One is on your inside, the other on the outside. But they’re both part of the same complex system that is your body and if you want healthy skin, then you need a healthy gut.


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My good friend Summer Bock  is a leading gut health expert who literally coined the term “gut rebuilding.” Being certified in integrative nutrition, she combines traditional herbal medicine with modern research and her background in microbiology so that she can help people around the world. Summer is the founder of the Better Belly Project and the CEO at Guts and Glory. She also makes a mean sauerkraut, something I’m personally too scared to attempt.

In this episode, we look at the ways that a healthy gut resembles a balanced ecosystem. When we disturb that ecosystem by doing things such as taking antibiotics, that has a ripple effect that plays out in the rest of your body, including the skin. We discuss how to reconnect and tune in to your body to focus on chronic issues that have been overlooked so you can take control of your health.

Have you noticed a connection between your skin and your gut’s health? Tell me about it in the comments!


In this episode

  • The ways in which your gut is a complex ecosystem, kind of like a rainforest
  • The role that antibiotics have in creating skin conditions
  • What a healthy poop is like and how it is a useful daily check-in on your health
  • The link between histamine imbalances and many intense symptoms and conditions



“I think you have to view your gut and your intestines as a rainforest. So if you have healthy, wonderful gut flora and gut ecosystem, then you have this whole entire rainforest living in there.” [3:15]

“I think that cleanses are misleading. I’ve watched my friends and even myself do cleanse after cleanse and you feel good when you’re doing it. Then you stop and everything comes back.” [12:44]

“You can see your skin. You can't see what’s going on in your gut. So we use the skin as a mirror to tell what’s going on inside.” [19:04]



Find Summer online

Follow Summer on Facebook

Better Belly Project

Guts and Glory

The Healthy Skin Show 009: Rebuilding Your Gut Health w/ Summer Bock

009: Rebuilding Your Gut Health w/ Summer Bock FULL TRANSCRIPT

Jennifer:              Hey everybody. It is so great to have you joining us again. I've got a fantastic friend of mine, somebody that I've known for a couple of years now and I have a ton of respect for because of all of the amazing information that she shares with people around the globe on basically your gut, gut healing, fermentation, all sorts of stuff that like, man, the fermentation stuff is not my wheelhouse. So I go to Summer for this stuff and I'm really lucky actually. I'm really grateful and you're really lucky that she's here to share what she knows with us cause we're going to talk about some stuff that when I thought about it, it made me laugh out loud cause it's so important but I love the way that she describes it. So my good friend, Summer Bock is a leading gut health expert who coined the term gut rebuilding.

Jennifer:              She integrates her traditional studies in urbalism with modern research and a background in microbiology. After resolving her own slew of health concerns naturally by focusing on the gut bio terrain, she started teaching others how to do the same. She is certified in integrative nutrition through Columbia university in a three time good food award winner for her, Sauerkraut recipes, something I am afraid still to make it my own kitchen. She is the founder of the better belly project and CEO at Guts And Glory an online business. It offers live coaching and natural solutions for digestive problems. Summer thank you for joining us.

Summer :            I am so excited to be here cause I, you know, you, you're really focusing on this work around skin health and it is such a strong connection to the gut. So I just am thrilled to be here.

Jennifer:              I know. And does that make you cringe when I just said I'm afraid to make sauerkraut in my kitchen? You're probably like, come on Jen.

Summer :            No, I I my thought was, well I'll get to you some day.

Jennifer:              Yes, everyone we are going to learn eventually. Summer's going to teach us how to make some sauerkraut. She is really an expert in all of this stuff and she has a really interesting understanding everybody of why the gut is tied to so many other pieces in the body. And one of the big things that clients come to me, they're like, Oh my gosh, I've had these skin rashes, whether it's eczema or dermatitis or rosacea, what have you. They don't realize that there is that direct connection to the gut and what's going on in the gut. Because we're like, well how are they connected? They're so far apart from one another. How does that make any sense? And they are number one, which you're going to find out. But I think this is the biggest piece of it is we have this, okay, so Summer you call it the human sewer situation, which made me laugh out loud when I read that. But I do understand where you're coming from with that. So can you share that with everybody? What exactly that is? Because this is tied directly into whether your skin is able to properly reform and rebuild or whether it's going to stay really unhappy.

Summer :            Well, I think you have to view your gut and your intestines as a rainforest. So if you have a healthy, wonderful gut flora gut ecosystem, then you have this whole entire rainforest living in there, right? I mean, that's the best analogy I have where there's all these plants and animals, there's tons of diversity, there's the flora, the fauna, and they are recycling anything in that environment. So like if you drop a banana peel in that rainforest, guess what happens? It gets recycled, it gets composted, it gets turned back into soil. And the basis for all of this is, is that soil inside of your gut, which is this, this ecosystem. So when you take antibiotics, you kill all of that. You strip it down and becomes essentially, you know, slash and burn rainforest. Now you covered in concrete, nothing can grow. And that's what most people are dealing with, right?

Summer :            So the healthy guys are gone and now everything's out of whack. It's out of balance. And similar to cities, you know, you look at the sludge and the grime and everything on those city streets, it's filled with nasty pathogenic bacteria. It's just really stinky and smelly and gross and rotting. That's the bad bacteria. And so the reason I call this the human sewer situation is because these bacteria, these pathogenic organisms, they start growing and they're eating everything that you eat and they're actually craving foods that you may not necessarily realize that you're eating just to feed them. They send messages to your nervous system, into your brain and say, Hey, how about some more, you know, a pizza and beer, please, and I would really love some like Skittles on top, whatever. So they're craving all this stuff. You're eating it, they're digesting it, and then they excrete toxic byproducts.

Summer :            Those toxic byproducts get absorbed in to your bloodstream. So your layer of your small intestines, one cell layer thick. Where as your skin is like, what, seven layers thick or something, and maybe more, but your one cell thick layer in your small intestine is just so small comparatively. And so these byproducts are going into your bloodstream and then they get circulated through to your liver. They're getting filtered out by your liver, but your liver can't keep up when you're in this situation. So then your body has to rely on the other channels of elimination to help excrete all these extra toxins. Well, and that's where the skin comes in, right? That's where your body's like, okay, I guess we get to start dumping from the skin. You know, and it's just a crazy cascade of events that happens all starting with taking antibiotics too many times. For most people that's, that's the biggest trigger.

Jennifer:              So if they look back in their history, and I always encourage people to do this, like look back and make some, make almost like a create a history for yourself in a sense. You know, of like what have you been exposed to? Antibiotics is always a big red flag for me cause I'm like, all right, cleared up, cleared the forest, so to speak. I really liked that idea that your gut is similar to a rain forest. So all these times that we're exposed to antibiotics and to be fair, I do not like to demonize any thing per se. I do think there's a time and a place for antibiotics because sometimes that's your only option for certain issues. However, I think we can all agree that modern medicine has overused to them unfortunately and over relied on them, especially when they don't exactly know what's wrong. And so now we've got the situation where you're looking at your history where you're like, Oh my gosh, I've been taking antibiotics since I was a kid for ear infections or I don't know, I was prone to UTI or any number of things right there. Like if you were looking at a client's information, would you say that's a red flag?

Summer :            Definitely. And you know, the more times somebody has taken antibiotics, the worse situation they're in as they get older and they come work with me. And like you said, I don't believe antibiotics are inherently bad. I think they actually have saved, you know, millions and millions of lives and I think they have a great purpose, but when you take them for a viral infection or you take them just to make yourself feel better when your cold is going to pass within five days anyway, you know, you're, you're messing with nature and I think you're going to really end up in this situation where it gets harder and harder to replenish the good bacteria. It gets harder and harder to regrow that rainforest back to its native state.

Jennifer:              Exactly. And those, those metabolites or toxins that are produced by the bacteria, I would say yeast would also be on that list. I find that a lot of times clients who've been exposed to a lot of antibiotics have too much yeast, a lot of times in their gut. But a lot of that stuff is just really hard for the body to deal with. And like you said, you end up craving things. So the idea is here, we've, you know, when I have clients do a gut protocol because that makes the most sense. They've got to be eliminating everything that like the toxins, the dead organisms, what have you, but, but I don't think people actually know what elimination means and that there are different channels of elimination. Can you talk a little bit about that cause you already mentioned it and I think that that would be helpful for someone to understand. It's not just as simple as, ‘Oh, I'm going to do a candida cleanse”, and call it a day. I don't think that's actually practical.

Summer :            Yeah, totally. And I mean, I think, you know, eliminating foods is important. When I think of channels of elimination, I think of the kidneys. I think of the lungs, the lymph system, the let's see, you have your colon, your, let's see, I have a little cheat sheet here. I feel like I'm missing some liver. Did I say them all? Kidney, liver, skin, lung, lymph, colon. Yeah, I think that's right. I might be missing one. Anyway. So the skin is one of these channels of elimination. Your liver is also a major channel of elimination. Your body is constantly using all of these channels as a way to excrete byproducts that are natural metabolites created, by your metabolism, but also the ones created by any of the organisms that live in your body. So you really have to work on cleaning things up that's coming into your system.

Summer :            Because when you're eating food, you're not really exactly eating food to feed you. You're actually eating food to feed the organisms that then are doing all of this work to break it down even further, and then create nutrients that are essential that you can't really get anywhere else. And then they're also protecting your immune system. And there's such a, they're actually considered an organ in your body. So you need to feed that. You need to feed that organ. And so I think it really connects to what you're saying about the foods that we eat. They have to feed these micro organisms well. So at first, when people are switching, how they eat away from the standard American diet, they need to switch away from eating these processed foods. You know, things that are high in trans fats or high fructose corn syrup, you know, any kind of artificial ingredients, these are terrible. Those feed pathogenic organisms, even non-organic foods that have pesticides and pesticide residues, these actually kill off the probiotics but don't really tend to harm a lot of the pathogenic bacteria.

Jennifer:              That's so disturbing.

Summer :            Oh it drives me nuts.

Jennifer:              It, there's a lot of disturbing things that have happened around our food. And I know that for somebody listening to this who's sort of at the beginning of their journey and realizing, Hey, my doctor has run out of options for me. So now I'm like, what else? What else is there? I think the first step is always starting to improve and clean out your diet. But I would say the other piece to this, and I have to say it cause we're talking about elimination and I'd love to get your take on this, is that you need to poop. Like, I don't know what other nicer way to put it, but like if you are not pooping, I personally think one to three times a day, but I'd like to get your take on it. You're going to have a hard time clearing things out in the intestinal track appropriately.

Summer :            You know I say one to three times a day and then I think your goal is what we call in my gut rebuilding program, the golden doodle. So, and it's not a, it's not a dog. You know the golden doodle is actually where when you go to the bathroom it's effortless. You should be done pooping within 30 seconds. You should not have to wipe like there should be nothing left, no residue left on that toilet paper. I call that a clean break, right? Like these are things that you have to be looking at and paying attention. I'm actually offended by those automatic flush toilets cause it doesn't give people a chance to just kind of like take a peak and notice how are things going for you today. You have a chance, one to three times a day to just check in on your health. How is your digestion, how are things functioning and relate that to how you feel and and constantly have this biofeedback.

Jennifer:              And so if you're not looking, you're missing a huge piece of the picture. Like I even will have clients track how often they, they go to the bathroom, right? So how often they poop as well as where it falls on the Bristol stool chart. Cause I want to know are you in diarrhea land or are you constipated? And it's really important to have this to find this. Even got like, I've had clients come to me and say, well I did this candida detox thing and I had diarrhea for like a week and it cleaned me out and detox my intestinal track and then everything came back worse. And I was like, well first of all, you shouldn't be having diarrhea. That's not a good thing. So I mean, in your book, if somebody came to you and said, Summer, I've had diarrhea after doing this cleanse like these cleanses for you know, a week or two weeks or whatever and I'm cleaned out. Would you say that that's a good thing?

Summer :            No, and that's why I developed my program is like, you know, I think that cleanses are misleading. I've watched my friends and even myself throughout the years do cleanse after cleanse and you feel good when you're doing it and then you stop and everything comes back. And I think that we have this, this idea that somehow there's this magic bullet and that's what we do with cleanses. We're like, okay, this is going to save me, this is going to cure me. It's going to make it all good. But I actually think you have to go through the process of gut rebuilding. You actually want to keep getting stronger and stronger. It's a sustainable process. It's a slower process. It's day by day. It's a lifestyle. It's what you make every decision based on. Right. And so I think with these cleanses, I have a cleanse, I support it. But I think if it's causing digestive distress, you're not doing it right for yourself.

Jennifer:              I agree with you. 100% and I think that's an important point to make. So everybody, if you're getting severe diarrhea, that's not detoxing, that might seem like it's cleansing you, but it's actually doing more harm than good. So, and just know to like, these things are important. The gut is important to have healthy skin. You can't really have one without the other. And we know this because there is this interesting relationship between something called histamine and something that happens in your gut at the sort of the gut level. So Summer, can you talk a little bit about what histamine is and how that might play a role at the gut level into skin issues?

Summer :            Histamine is part of your immune system. So most of us are familiar with histamine in terms of sneezing or allergies with watery eyes and a runny nose. But for other people, histamine can get out of and turn into hives. Rashes, like flushing, actual facial flushing, or full body flushing. Uh For some people histamine can be the trigger for, you know, random migraines or headaches. It can also cause like a really gurgly, rumbly empty stomach or like extreme hunger pains. Even when you know you've eaten and you're already full. Um There's many other symptoms associated with histamine, but really what it is, I mean there's two parts of it that you have to know. It's a part of our immune defense. So it's designed to tell our immune system, Hey, there are foreign invaders we need to like take care of it.

Summer :            It brings a lot of white blood cells and other fluids to the area and you actually have a ton of histamine receptors and histamine molecules in your stomach. So if you are eating food that somehow can trigger that histamine or your histamine response is out of whack, out of whack, or your immune response is in a hyperactive mode, you can actually be dumping a massive amount of histamine when you eat food. And this is a really common thing that I see with a lot of my clients. And so when that happens, now your histamine levels are going to higher and higher. You might end up with watery eyes after eating or you might end up with hives or flushing or just other general horrible symptoms. And a lot of people that can even translate into eczema or psoriasis because it's that connection between the immune system and your skin.

Summer :            Some people are more predisposed towards it being a skin issue and that's something that runs in my family. And the first time I ever got exposed to this, I had eczema when I was young. My mom had it my entire life and she was my first person that I ever worked with kind of casually. And we started working together and her eczema went away. And we were talking about somebody who has spent decades wearing cotton gloves at night after covering her hands and all kinds of like cortisone cream and these other, you know, products. And then she put on these cotton gloves because her hands were so splitting and bleeding and, and she works in the dirt. She's a horticulturist. So she was trying to plant all her plants and deal with eczema and we worked together and went away and she's never had it come back since.

Summer :            And it was all this connection to realizing that histamine for some people is a big deal. So there's a flip side to histamine, which I find very fascinating. It is created by certain bacteria. So not only does your body create it, some bacteria will actually create histamine as they're eating and fermenting some of the food in your intestines. So your, your levels of histamine can actually get higher just from having the wrong bacteria in there. And then we have other bacteria like lactobacillus plantarum, which is a histamine degrader. So they break down histamine. So there's this component in food called histidine. And histidine is the, is the molecule that is converted into histamine by the bacteria. So it's a fascinating process. And this is when I work with people who are dealing with skin issues like this, that's the first place I go with them. I'm like, we don't care about anything else. Let's just figure out how to address your histamine levels. And let's see if you are experiencing any other symptoms of having high histamine or histamine overdrive. Yeah.

Jennifer:              That's, that is amazing too. And I think it's important for people to know that there are bacteria that A produce this and B, those that can degrade it. Because one of the interesting things is when I find out that somebody has a lot of itching and they've got hives and all sorts of things, the first thing I want to know is what's your plasma histamine level? Like do you have a lot of histamine in your blood? And always it comes off through the like off the charts, it's so high. And I'm like, how come your doctor never looked at this? Like I'm not a doctor, but this is like a real no brainer to check in on this. So this is a big piece for people that are struggling and looking into that. So A, you can ask your doctor to run a plasma histamine on you and see how that's going.

Jennifer:              But B, this is another piece of it. It's, and some are, you're going to talk to us about this for a sec, is you can start to look inward and tune in and realize that some of the things that we have that we are experiencing where our health is not going right, especially in the skin world. We're so disconnected from the rest of our body that when you tune in and you take a step back and start listening to what's going on, sometimes you can begin to put pieces together that have been overlooked and you can start to take meaningful strides forward and start rebuilding your gut as you say. So you have a great gift for everybody that I would love for you to share with them. It's called the five day inner spy training. Can you just tell everybody about that quickly?

Summer :            Sure. The inner spy training is really learning how to spy on your guts and what's going on inside your body. We do everything from face mapping to talking a little bit more, how to diagnose your poop, what's happening there, and then what to do about it. Um I do talk about skin, you know, I mean that's a, it's a big component. You can see your skin, you can't see what's going on in your gut. So we use the skin actually as a mirror to help us tell what's happening inside. And then there's, you know, during this training you're going to learn what to do and how to move forward with this knowledge. I mean, honestly I think everybody has it, you know, when they look in the mirror every day or they just turn around real quick and look in the toilet every day you have this opportunity to tell where you're at and, and self-diagnose, you know, once you name it you have something that you can do about it. And I think that's the first really important step.

Summer :            It's true. And if you know you're, you have no problem diagnose it, like looking at your skin in the mirror everyday. Like, Oh gosh, I have more dots. Oh I got more bumps over here. I got rash over here. Like you've no problem doing that to your skin. Why are you not paying attention to your bowel movement? Which is really important because as you said, we can't look internally very easily and oftentimes people have gone and gotten scoped. They've had an endoscopy and colonoscopies and the doctor's like, Oh, you look good.

Summer :            Yeah, but that's like that's a naked colon, right? Like you've taken something to wipe everything out and they're forgetting that you have this ecosystem of organisms that is an organ and you just got rid of that whole organ for a moment with, you know, whatever kind of flush they use and they're missing that important fact. Those organisms are actually what's interacting there in your colon.

Jennifer:              Yeah. Well thank you so much for joining us. I hope we can have you come back sometime to talk with us more about the fermentation process because like I said, you are my go to person on that. I don't know anybody else that I would trust. I'm like so afraid to do it in my home, like to ferment foods. I don't know why, it's just, it's in my head. I just need somebody to walk me through it. And I know that other people would be interested in hearing that conversation. But in the meantime thank you so much for this gift. I will put the link everybody on the show notes for this podcast. Please go check Summer out. What she's doing is amazing and we do actually know each other in real life. So I am, you are literally meeting one of my good friends and Summer, thank you so much for joining us.

Summer :            Thanks for having me. I'm excited.

Jennifer Fugo, MS, CNS

Jennifer Fugo, MS, CNS is an integrative Clinical Nutritionist and the founder of Skinterrupt. She works with women who are fed up with chronic gut and skin rash issues discover the root causes and create a plan to get them back to a fuller, richer life.

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