Constipated? It’s Probably Playing a Part in Your Hormonal Acne

If you’re dealing with hormonal acne, you're probably blaming your hormones...but the truth is, your gut may be the issue! Here’s a look at the connection between acne and constipation, and why tackling acne gut-first is so effective.

Constipated? It’s Probably Playing a Part in Your Hormonal Acne

If you’re dealing with hormonal acne, you're probably blaming your hormones...but the truth is, your gut may be the issue! Here’s a look at the connection between acne and constipation, and why tackling acne gut-first is so effective.

What is Constipation?

From a western medical perspective, constipation is defined by evacuating the bowels less than three times per week. But, if you’re eating three times a day (or more!), is it really enough?

From a functional medicine perspective, it’s not. You could even be going Number 2 daily, and still be constipated if you are not fully evacuating your bowels. From a functional standpoint, the goal is 1-3 complete BMs, daily. They should be easy to pass and torpedo like, not too hard or too soft. 

If your stool is hard and lumpy or pebble-like, or you're straining when going to the bathroom or don’t feel like you are completely evacuating the bowels, these are all possible signs of constipation.

An imbalance in the gut microbiome can be a contributor to constipation – we’ll discuss this in more detail below. However, there are other factors that may be to blame, including not eating enough fiber-rich food, dehydration, and physical inactivity.

The Link Between Hormonal Acne and Constipation

Observation and research has shown a link between constipation and breakouts for over 100 years. In fact, the two dermatologists who set the foundation for what we now call the gut-skin axis back in the 1920s, believed that constipation was an ‘important factor’ and even ‘the rule’ rather than the exception when it comes to acne

An older study reported constipation as a clinical complaint in 40% of acne patients

In one more recent study of over 13,000 adolescents, researchers found that acne patients were more likely to experience constipation and other gastrointestinal symptoms than those with clear skin.

Why Does Constipation Contribute to Acne Breakouts? 

If you’re simultaneously dealing with constipation and hormonal acne, let’s talk about what may be going on in your body. 

Hormonal acne is caused by hormonal imbalance… so you may immediately jump to conclusions, and blame your hormones for your breakouts. But, you need to ask WHY have the hormones become unbalanced?

For many people, the answer lies in the gut: both in what we eat (or don’t eat) AND the health of our gut microbiome. 

When it comes to hormonal acne, eating too much of certain types of foods OR not eating enough of other foods, can contribute to hormonal imbalance and breakouts. But, perhaps more surprisingly, the health of your gut microbiome and how frequently and well you poo does too. 

Excessive androgens (especially testosterone) is believed to be one of the main causes of hormonal breakouts, although the balance of estrogen and progesterone also plays a role. An imbalance in hormones can trigger excess sebum production, inflammation, and clogged pores, resulting in blemishes.

So where does constipation come into the picture? It all has to do with the way the body deals with excess hormones. The liver breaks down excess hormones, which are then transported to the intestines to be eliminated from the body via our stool. 

When we’re constipated, those excess hormones remain in our system, and can get reabsorbed back into the bloodstream, contributing to hormonal imbalances. That’s why gut health is so important - research shows that gut dysbiosis - a lack of good bacteria and too much bad bacteria - contributes to constipation

So give your hormones a break! It’s the gut microbiome you want to address first. A first step in clearing breakouts is to support a healthy gut microbiome with probiotics, and make sure you are eliminating fully and daily. From a functional medicine perspective, eliminating 1-3 times a day, with well-formed stool, is ideal.

How to Improve Constipation

Constipation can often be improved with a few lifestyle tweaks. Here are our top tips for reducing constipation – and as a result, improving both gut health and acne. Of course, if you suffer with chronic constipation, it's a good idea to consult your healthcare provider.

Focus on Fiber

Fiber is essential for good digestion. Dietary fiber softens stool and increases its size, helping it move more quickly and easily through your system. Research has confirmed that many people with chronic constipation are able to find relief by increasing their intake of fiber.

Fruit and vegetables are loaded with fiber, with some of the best options being raspberries, apples, pears, avocados, broccoli, and brussels sprouts. Other great fiber-rich foods to work into your diet include any type of beans or lentils, such as chickpeas, kidney beans, or black beans.

It's important to start slowly with fiber - especially if you're not used to eating it. Too much too soon - or without drinking an adequate amount of water with it - can lead to bloating and gas. Especially if your gut is lacking the good bacteria needed to properly digest these foods.

Try adding in just a few grams of fiber a day, and building up over time as your body gets used to it. Also, keep in mind, cooked veggies are easier to digest than raw, so opt for soups or hot preparations over salads, at least to start with.  

Stay on Top of Your Water Intake

Drinking enough fluids each day will help keep things moving. If there isn’t enough water in your body during the digestion process, the large intestine will have to pull fluids from the food you’ve eaten, which can result in harder, more challenging to pass stools. By drinking plenty of water each day, you’ll ensure your body has the fluids it needs to keep the stools softer. 

If water is not your thing, try adding in more herbal teas, soups, broths, or even juicy fruit such as cucumber or melon to your diet. 

Take Probiotics Targeting Gut & Skin Health

Glow Biome is a nutritionist-formulated, dermatologist-approved probiotic formulated specifically for acne-prone skin. Built on the science of the gut-skin connection, it has been clinically tested and shown to support clearer, less oily, more hydrated skin from the inside out, in as little as 6-12 weeks. (Check out clinical results, here). 

It works by first supporting gut health, which in turn supports skin health. Glow Biome contains the strain Bifidobacterium animalis subspecies lactis, which has been shown to improve regularity and stool consistency in multiple studies. Paired with 5 other strains that target both gut and skin health, Glow Biome is your skin’s new BFF. 

Add More Movement to Your Daily Routine

It’s equally as important to work movement into your everyday regimen – both for your overall health and to improve constipation. While the exact explanation as to why is still unclear, research has shown that exercise can activate gut motility (AKA the movement of food through the digestive system), and as a result treat constipation. 

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