So you may have found yourself wondering if your digestion issues are linked to your acne. Maybe you’ve even spent time googling, “can constipation cause acne?”. Today I’m sharing the link between your bowel movements and acne and what you can do about it!
This post is sponsored by Holy Crap Breakfast Cereal. Thank you for supporting companies that support The Pure Life.
First of all, what is constipation?
Have you ever wondered how many bowel movements should you have in a day? The general rule is 1-3 healthy bowel movements per day. You shouldn’t be straining for your bowel movements but you also shouldn’t be passing them too quickly either.
Constipation is essentially when stool moves too slowly through the digestive tract.
To read more about digestion and detoxification, check out this blog post.
What causes constipation?
Many things can be associated with or cause constipation, but here are some popular patterns I see with my clients:
- Stress: When our body is in stress-mode, aka “fight or flight” mode, our sympathetic nervous system is activated and digestion essentially “shuts off”. This is because our body thinks it needs to prioritize other processes and digestion becomes last priority.
- A poor diet: consuming too many refined and processed foods (yes, even those vegan mock meats you love could be affecting your digestion!) and not enough fibre-rich plant foods (like leafy greens, seeds and beans) could contribute to constipation.
- An imbalanced gut flora: Ever heard of the microbiome? Your bacteria balance is crucial for fighting acne. When we don’t consume enough probiotic-rich foods (or spend enough time in nature), our gut flora can become imbalanced. This could easily lead to constipation.
- Lack of exercise: Movement stimulates blood flow to the body, especially the digestive system organs, which helps move food along quicker. This process is known as peristalsis.
- Lack of hydration: Think you’re drinking enough water? Take a closer look! Are you drinking 2-3L of filtered water per day? We need water to actually move stool through our digestive system. The more hydrated you are, the easier you will poop! It’s simple science.
How does constipation cause acne?
This is a link I see within my nutrition coaching practice all the time. Women come to me with irregular bowels and they can’t seem to fight off their acne, despite trying “all the things”.
Here are two major ways constipation is linked to acne:
- When we don’t eliminate properly, toxins aren’t being eliminated properly. Toxins can recirculate throughout our body and trigger an inflammation response, which can lead to breakouts. We consume toxins unconsciously on the daily through the food we eat (pesticides), the air we breathe (pollution), the skincare products we use (always choose non-toxic!) and even from our furniture and the clothes we wear.
- The same thing goes for hormones. Ever wonder why your post-pill acne is raging?! Excess hormones from things like the Pill, xenoestrogens like plastic and chemicals or even from conventional animal proteins can all accumulate in the body if not eliminated properly. An unhealthy digestive system activates an overproduction of an enzyme called beta-glucuronidase which stimulates estrogen re-absorption.
How to minimize constipation to clear your acne:
- Change up your diet: Increasing fibre is a great way to support healthy bowel movements! Including more plant based foods in your diet can really help to get things moving along. My go-to recommendations for easing constipation are seeds (like chia, hemp, buckwheat, flax, sesame and pumpkin), leafy greens (like arugula, Spring mix, spinach), citrus fruits like oranges, lemons and limes, and if you’re really in a pickle then snack on some dried prunes to help get your bowels moving.
- Lemon in water: One of the simplest ways to kickstart digestion is sipping on lemon water before a meal. Add 1/2 lemon (juiced) to a glass of lukewarm water before a meal.
- Chew your food: This one is really important. How are you eating your meals? Is it at your desk, while you reply to emails? Is it while watching an episode of Lost? Try taking a few deep breaths before enjoying your meal, away from electronics and always chew your food properly. A great place to enjoy a meal is outside on a patio (if the weather permits) away from distractions, ideally in the sunshine for extra Vitamin D!
- Activate your circadian rhythm: an easy-to-implement way to support your digestive health and get those bowels moving is to go for a walk first thing in the morning. Not only are you activating your natural circadian rhythm by exposing yourself to natural light first thing in the morning, but walking before or after a meal can kickstart digestion and keep bowel movements more regular. Aim for 15-30 minutes around the block every morning!
- Clean out your closet: This is the best tip I ever received for constipation. Cleaning allows for physical and mental release. Sometimes when we hold stress, tension can accumulate not only in our mind but also in our physical body. A mindful act like cleaning can get us into the present moment, into a relaxed state, and almost acts as a sense of “natural cleansing”. If it sounds crazy to you, I urge you to try it first! It’s seriously incredible!
Have you struggled with constipation in the past? What worked for you? Let me know over on Instagram!