Poop is not one of those topics most people chat about around the dinner table or at cocktail hour. So we don’t often know what a normal bowel movement is supposed to look like, how often you should be having them and why they’re a super important thing.
And when it comes to your skin, they’re vital.
Kind of a weird connection though, right? How’s what’s going on with good ol’ #2 impacting your acne? Let me break it down for you.
Your large intestine (aka the colon) uses poop to expel toxins, hormones, bacteria and yeast. Ideally, you should have one to three bowel movements every day. They should be easy to pass and one long, smooth, snake-like movement.
You’re constipated (even if you go every day) if there is any straining, separate hard lumps or if it’s hard to pass.
You have diarrhea if you have loose, watery or blob-like bowel movements.
There also shouldn’t be any undigested food, mucous, blood or intestinal cramping.
In my acne program, The Clear Skin Solution, I always refer my clients to the Bristol Stool Chart below. The ideal shape of your poop should be a type three or four.
Healthy bowel movements are actually the very first thing we work on with my clients because without them, getting rid of acne will be borderline impossible.
If poop sits for too long in the digestive tract, you start to recirculate toxins, hormones, bacteria and yeast that were supposed to be excreted.
This is bad news.
They end up back in the bloodstream, which heads to the liver to be “re-filtered.” But your liver is busy detoxifying and filtering new things…and then all this old stuff shows up.
This increases the toxic load on the liver, contributes to further hormonal imbalance and triggers inflammation in the body.
Higher levels of toxicity, hormones and inflammation are key contributors to acne.
The evidence of constipation now manifests on your face as breakouts.
Let’s say you’re on the other side of the spectrum with diarrhea.
Right off the bat, diarrhea means your food is passing way too quickly through your system and the body doesn’t have time to properly break down and absorb the nutrients you’re eating (or even the supplements you’re taking).
So you can be eating the healthiest diet in the world and not reaping the rewards if diarrhea is afoot. You become malnourished and your body doesn’t have access to the vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients needed to keep everything running in tip-top shape (including your skin).
Loose stools can also indicate a bacterial infection (like SIBO) or food intolerance that will contribute to or worsen breakouts.
So as you can see, healthy bowel movements are critical for clearing up your skin. We can’t do any type of detoxification or hormonal balancing until you’re pooping well. That’s because the toxins and hormones we’ll be working to flush and rebalance will just end up recirculating in the body causing more issues.
Now that you know how important healthy bowel movements are for clear skin, here are a few tips to start getting your bathroom trips to a more ideal place.
A fibre-rich diet helps increase good probiotics in the gut and allows for quicker transit time through the digestive tract. Fibre binds the waste together to assist in bulking the stool, diluting and helping to move it through the body quicker.
I encourage my clients in The Clear Skin Solution to aim for 40 grams of fibre per day. Fibre can be abundantly found in fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. If you choose to include grains like quinoa and wild rice in your diet, these would also offer up fibre. Just make sure you digest foods like quinoa and beans well before including them (i.e. no gas, bloating, indigestion or belching).
Here are some of my favourite high-fibre foods:
Drinking enough water is essential for healthy bowel movements and clear skin.
First up, water is needed for proper detoxification as it helps flush toxins from the body and supports liver and kidney function. Water is also eliminated from the skin as sweat, which can help the body get rid of heavy metals and toxins. If detoxification pathways are blocked, breakouts may occur because the body is trying to excrete toxins that other organs are having trouble dealing with.
Good ol’ H2O keeps the intestinal system healthy too as it promotes balanced gut bacteria and nourishes the mucosal lining of the intestines.
Your intestines move stool forward through involuntary muscle contractions called peristalsis. If it takes too long for stool to travel through, exercise can also help. Try swimming, walkin, yoga, pilates, squats and sit-ups to help you poop better.
Just as there are a lot of foods that promote healthy bowel movements, there are also a number of foods that can trigger constipation or diarrhea. If you want to poop better and have clear skin, cut out these irritating foods such as: