Lynda: Constipation contributes to acute and chronic dis-ease in the body, including the health of our skin. Aside from the bowel, constipation increases the workload of all our elimination organs such as the skin, lungs, lymphatic system and kidneys. As a result, these organs wear out and our repair, growth and ability to eliminate waste materials is compromised.
Constipation “clogs” the colon. This occurs primarily because there is a build up of mucous on the mucous membrane and bowel wall which means less space for poop to pass through. Cleansing the bowel and regulating bowel movements, gets rid of this old material. Waste material should not stay in the colon for a week. Think of leaving dirty dish water in a sink for a number of days. What would your overall health be like if you ate off the dishes washed in this water? A scary thought.
Before I connect the pimples on how constipation affects the skin, it’s important to understand what happens when we don’t poop regularly.
Recycled garbage makes us toxic
When the bowels are not evacuated regularly, waste material, hormones and potential toxins are reabsorbed by the body. This recycled garbage leads to toxic build-up in the bowel.
Bowel pockets otherwise known as “diverticula” of the colon may develop when too much pressure, “straining” is used to push poop out. There is often reduced muscle contraction in the walls of these pockets and it is also a place where food and contents collect to ferment and putrefy (rot). Rotting of food in the bowel encourages the growth of pathogens such as parasites, bacteria and fungus. Some strains of bacteria also produce their own toxins, one of them being the harmful lipopolysaccharides (LPS). This bacteria overgrowth and overall toxicity can lead to inflammation in the gut.
Inflammation and leaky gut
Toxins and inflammation in the intestines weaken the intestinal wall and can cause a “leaky gut”. As the name states the intestinal lining becomes “leaky” allowing undigested food, proteins, toxins, LPS, cholesterol and fats to pass through into the bloodstream and lymph. The immune system then cranks up inflammation in response. This toxicity and systemic inflammation goes on to affect the health of other organs.
Learn more about gut health here: 5 Simple Ways to Improve Your Gut Health
Gut bacteria imbalance
Toxicity and inflammation in the bowel causes dysbiosis. Dysbiosis generally means that there is an unhealthy balance in the gut bacteria. Our gut bacteria have an important role in food metabolism, appetite, hormone regulation, integrity of the gut lining, mood health and inflammation.
7 Skin facts
- Leaky gut – studies show that many people with skin conditions have a leaky gut because they are more reactive to lipopolysaccharide (LPS) endotoxins in the blood.
- Leaky skin – skin acts as a barrier to the environment and microbes. Stress and gut inflammation can affect the quality and protective function of this barrier. This leads to a decrease in antimicrobial compounds produced in the skin and an increase in skin infection and inflammation.
- Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) – an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine is more common in those with with rosacea and acne rosacea. Learn more about SIBO here.
- Inflammatory bowel disease – those with inflammatory bowel disease such as Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease commonly experience skin disorders. Learn more about these conditions here.
- Coeliac disease – many Coeliac sufferers experience skin conditions such as dermatitis herpetiformis and pigmentation problems (vitiligo).
- Gut dysbiosis – studies show that 54% of those with acne have gut dysbiosis. Altered gut flora stimulates the release of substance P, a neuropeptide produced in the gut, brain and skin. Substance P has a role in skin conditions. The health of your gut microbiome (flora) influences the production and fatty acid profile of sebum (oil secretion). Dysbiosis has also been seen in those with seborrheic dermatitis.
- Probiotics – are known to improve skin conditions which highlights the connection between gut and skin. They also decrease LPS, leaky gut, gut inflammation and oxidative stress which is elevated in those with acne.
As you can see, the skin is extremely affected by leaky gut, toxicity, gut bacterial overgrowth, gut inflammation and dysbiosis. Is it now fair to say that in order to have happy, healthy skin you must have a healthy gut and regular bowel movements? My vote is on yes.
Below is a snapshot of how you can relieve constipation:
- Eat fibre with every meal, learn more about the types of fibre here;
- Aim to drink about 1.5 litres of water daily;
- Add herbs and spices to your dishes. Certain herbs and spices nourish the organs of digestion and elimination, such as the liver, kidneys, stomach, and spleen. My favourites are cayenne, liquorice, coriander, fennel, ginger, and turmeric;
- Drink 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with water upon rising. ACV improves the production of stomach acid, which means a more effective breakdown and absorption of foods and better elimination of waste;
- Eat healthier natural fats. Good sources are coconut, olive, and macadamia oil; avocado; oily fish (sardines, mackerel, herring); butter; nuts; and seeds;
- Aim for a palm-sized portion per meal;
- Try magnesium bisglycinate. Magnesium is a muscle (intestinal-wall muscles included) and nervous-system relaxant;
- Do some daily breath-work. Without breath, there is tension, blockage, and resistance;
- Move the body. Movement improves metabolism, stimulates intestinal contractions, and tones the muscles in the core that help create healthy bowel movements and
- Squat. Squatting or using a squat platform allows for a more natural angle and pressure. It un-kinks the colon and allows for an easier passage for poop to leave.
Finally, while improving bowel regularity and gut health it’s important to soothe irritated skin with all natural, chemical-free topical creams. I recommend soothing baby moisturising cream with sunflower and calendula. It may have been created for babies but the formula suits all angry skins.