In the previous post, I touched on the different parts of our body’s cleansing system and talked about how our skin can be an indicator for what’s going on inside our bodies. This time, I’d like to continue elaborating on the idea that, as part of the excretory system, our skin can directly reflect an improperly functioning digestive system.
The Importance of Eating for Our Skin.
Our digestive system has the very important role of breaking down the foods that we eat and turning them into energy. The nourishment of our body and health rely upon this process of breaking down food into useful components : amino acids, simple sugars, fatty acids and glycerin. However, when our digestive system is not working properly, the result can be fatigue and fermentation and production of toxins, which then give rise to many diseases, including acne, eczema, psoriasis, and even unpleasant body odors.
There are many factors that can contribute to an improperly functioning digestive system, so it is important to consult with a physician for your really serious digestive issues. For the purposes of this article however, we will look at some of those factors that are linked with our lifestyle and diet.
The case for fiber
The digestive system works mechanically by moving food through different parts of the body. Meals that are high in fiber provide more indigestible bulk and are moved more efficiently through the intestines. You can use the example of squeezing a tube of toothpaste—it’s easier to squeeze the paste out when there’s a lot of it as opposed to a very small amount. In the same way, high-bulk fibrous foods take up more room in the intestine and are easily moved along. Fibrous foods promote regular bowel elimination, and reduces the instances of constipation and the amount of time that fecal matter sits in the intestines, thus limiting the potential for toxin absorption.
Can you guess which types of foods are high in fiber ? ……Why yes, good guess! Fruits and vegetables are great sources of fiber!! Well, actually, there are several good sources of fiber and we can place them into the following categories :
- Fresh and Dried Fruits
- Wholes Grains
- Beans and Legumes
- Nuts and Seeds
But the reason I highlight fresh fruits and vegetables is because they really give us the most bang for the buck. Not only are they rich in fiber, but they also provide us with a very wholesome source of energy and they contain a lot of the vitamins and nutrients that are essential in nourishing our skin and giving us that healthy glow.
What about whole grains ?
This is a question I’d like to address because recently I have been trying to reduce my consumption of wheat breads and other gluten containing foods.
There are many types of grains out there and some of them may be good for digestion while other types of grains can hamper the digestive process. The one thing we can conclude is that, in terms of nutrition, whole grains will always be better for us than processed grains. This is because whole grains still have their outer layers intact, which contain vitamins, minerals and proteins.
But in terms of digestion, there is a lot of evidence that gluten containing whole grains, such as rye, barley, and wheat, are not actually that great for the digestive system. Yes they are high in fiber but they also have gluten, a type of protein that is very difficult to digest. Gluten intolerance is not yet very well understood, but symptoms that have been linked to it include : diarrhea, gas, bloating, general gastro-intestinal discomfort, as well as a poor immune system, and chronic skin problems such as dermatitis and eczema.
This is not to say you need to be extreme and cut out grains entirely from your diet. But, you can get the same amount of fiber from eating more fruits and vegetables and also, they are definitely a better source of nutrition and energy for our bodies. For healthier grain options, however, try to go for brown or wild rice, quinoa, and amaranth. And if you are wary of gluten, you can do your research and find that there is a long list of grains out there that are gluten-free.
Other factors that contribute to poor digestion:
- Too much protein and fats
Excessive amounts of protein and fat in the diet can slow down digestion because the body has to work harder to digest them.
To digest properly, we need to drink plenty of water! Water is used to help produce mucus, which helps lubricate the lining of the intestines and makes it easier for food to pass along. An efficient digestive tract reduces the amount of time food spends in the intestine, decreases intestinal gas formation, and improves regularity of bowel movements. Also, water is just great for keeping the skin moisturized! Most people will say to drink at least 8 glasses of water, but you can actually get a lot of your water just by eating more fruits and vegetables.
- Eating too much, eating too fast
Your mother will tell you, chew… your…. food… slowly…. As I have already mentioned, digestion is a mechanical process of moving food along through different parts of our body. Digestion starts in the mouth by mashing food with the help of our teeth, saliva and digestive enzymes. Also, when we chew our food slowly, our stomach requires less food to feel full than if we were to eat hurriedly.
Reading Sources on the Digestive System: