We can spend hours (and hundreds of pounds) on trying to achieve perfect skin, gorgeous hair and strong, long nails, and with so many different products and supplements hailing to provide the latest research or the 'miracle' in a bottle it's hard not to be tempted. But what about paying this much attention to your gut to help you achieve the same results? And did you know that suffering from constipation can affect the way you look?
Why you should include your gut in your beauty regime
Everything you eat and drink is broken down, digested and absorbed by your gut, within the intestines, including all macro nutrients (carbohydrates, protein and fat) and micro nutrients (vitamins and minerals). Your body then uses these nutrients to fuel, support and maintain your body for every second of every day, including maintaining and supporting the health of your hair, skin and nails.
However, if you are eating the wrong foods, have an imbalance in your gut or are suffering from a gut-related symptom such as constipation, then this will have an outer effect on your beauty, causing things like spots, brittle nails and lank or thin hair.
How does constipation affect my skin?
Peristalsis within the intestines does not work as effectively when you suffer with constipation, which means that your stools are unable to move through the body for elimination. These stools are effectively ‘stuck’ because they have nowhere to go and the body is unable to break them down, which in turn causes acidity and inflammation that then begins to impact the rest of the body, including the health of your skin, hair and nails.
Constipation also means that the microflora (or balance of good bacteria) within the intestines is altered which also prevents your digestive system from working effectively to eliminate toxins, as discussed in the ‘Benefits of probiotics and prebiotics’.
By toxins or toxicity I am referring to the body being unable to naturally detoxify and rid itself of any old, stale food waste because constipation prevents you from having a regular bowel movement.
Your skin is also a major organ and one of its main jobs is to detox through sweating. So, if your digestive system is sluggish or blocked by constipation then your skin will start to show signs such as spots, dryness and pimples. This is because whilst your skin cannot eliminate your food waste, it can be an indicator that perhaps your body is struggling to detox effectively.
This all results in a sluggish digestive system, as well as poor absorption of those all-important nutrients I mentioned earlier, which are needed to keep you looking gorgeous.
There has also been some research into the link between constipation and acne, which is partly connected to your blood sugar levels. The American Dietetic Association has looked at how those who have a diet that is high in sugar and processed foods, and lacking in foods such as fruit and vegetables, are more likely to have fluctuating blood sugar levels which affects the hormone insulin.
Too much insulin then affects how our body regulates other hormones, one of which is androgen. In turn, too much androgen creates extra facial oil, which then blocks your pores in your skin and causes spots.
Another reason why a diet that is high in fibre is key because as well as helping prevent constipation, it also helps to keep your blood sugars and insulin levels normal, preventing spots.
Our bodies also have an in-built survival mechanism whereby they prioritise our brain, heart and muscles over any other parts of the body, so any nutrients that you do absorb will go to support the health and function of these major organs first, before then tackling the rest of your bodily parts including your hair, skin and nails. Therefore, if you have poor absorbency of nutrients as a result of things like constipation, or are eating the wrong foods (which have low nutrient status in the first place) then this will just compound the matter.
Top 3 beauty tips for your gut
Glowing skin and glossy hair is therefore more than skin deep, and your gut deserves to be included as part of your daily beauty routine.
1. Take a probiotic - ensure that you have plenty of good bacteria within your digestive system to support healthy digestion and absorption of all those vital nutrients. Either eating more probiotic foods or taking a regular probiotic supplement should be an essential part of any beauty regime, particularly if you have constipation.
2. Eat nutrient-rich foods - fruit and vegetables in particular are full of fabulous, beauty-boosting vitamins and minerals as well as fibre which is needed to help support your digestive system and is crucial if you suffer from constipation, as discussed in 'Fibre and constipation'. Cut out 'Foods that cause constipation' too, such as processed foods, junk foods, fried foods, sugary foods and fizzy drinks - they don't do anything for you other than provide calories.
3. Drink plenty of water - keep your body, including your hair, skin, nails and gut, hydrated. On the inside, your digestive system needs water to ensure that your stools can move smoothly through the intestines, you absorb all the nutrients from your food, and your body can detoxify naturally through urination. Externally, water will help to keep your skin plump, your hair shiny and your nails strong as being dehydrated dries everything out and will create a lack-lustre appearance. Read 'The importance of water' to find out more easy tips on how to drink more water.