Yes, Fiber Is Good for Your Gut—but Did You Know It’s Amazing for Your Skin, Too?

Photo: Getty Images/AaronAmat
I have always associated fiber with pooping. Out of all the diet essentials that we're supposed to get, fiber's undoubtedly the least sexy, regardless of how healthy it is... mainly because of its reputation for keeping you on the toilet.

Hot take, though: Fiber's sexier than you ever realized—because it's a secret beauty booster. Right alongside its abilities to promote your gut health, lower "bad" cholesterol, and keep you regular is its potential to beautify your hair, skin, and nails.

"Fiber alleviates bloating, it helps with weight management, because it keeps you full for longer, it helps with energy, and it helps with amazing hair, skin, and nails," says Lo Bosworth, founder and CEO of Love Wellness, a women's personal care product line (which just launched its very own fiber product called Sparkle Fiber). "Nobody talks about this."

She's right—while people incorporate all the collagen and vitamin C they can for the sake of good skin, fiber remains a nutrient that about 95 percent of people don't get enough of in their diet (the FDA recommends about 25 grams a day). But fun fact: your collagen and vitamin C might not be doing the most for your body if you're skimping on fiber.

"Fiber increases the absorption of essential nutrients and antioxidants," says Lisa Richards, CNC, nutritionist and author of The Candida Diet"Certain nutrients like lutein, lycopene, and vitamin C are needed for collagen production, and eating enough fiber enables your digestive system to absorb these nutrients more easily. Antioxidants are equally important and are known to reduce and prevent aging due to oxidative stress."

Here's a crash-course on fiber and gut health from our resident dietitian, Tracy Lockwood-Beckerman: 

Fiber's impact on your gut health also may have the added perk of giving you a more glowing complexion. "Poor gut health can lead to increased inflammation, which contributes to skin problems like dryness and acne," says Richards. "Maintaining a healthy gut is one of the best ways to achieve healthy looking skin."

How, exactly? It all comes down to prebiotic fiber—the kind found in foods like bananas, artichokes, onions, garlic, and whole grains. "These ferment in the gut and support the microbiota, thus promoting health and well-being, and emerging research suggests that prebiotic fibers can have a positive impact on the skin microbiota," says Susan Piergeorge, MS, RDN, registered dietitian and nutrition education manager for Rainbow Light. "While there's not a direct correlation to skin, hair, and nail health, consuming a diet rich in fibers from sources such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds will provide nutrients that support overall health and wellness."

If all of this is enough to convince you to try more fiber, experts generally recommend getting it from whole foods sources first before reaching for a supplement. Beans, legumes, leafy green vegetables, and whole grains are easy wins on the fiber front. Lower-carb options (if that's your thing) include chia seeds, cauliflower, and raspberries. Oh, and avocados have a ton of fiber in them, too. And increase your fiber intake slowly rather than all at once—your digestive system will thank you for it.

So yes, fiber might still have an old lady-ish reputation. But now that I know its potential for my skin, I'm convinced it needs a rebranding as a beauty essential. Time to find this nutrient a new PR manager, stat.

For an even more beautifying diet, nosh on these foods that are good for skin health, according to nutritionists. And this is the best way to take collagen for your strongest skin ever. 

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