When on a path towards a healthier lifestyle, many things need to be considered to ensure your body is working at its best. As a Holistic Nutritionist, I never thought talking about poop would be such an important part of my practice. But it has become a very telling tool towards your overall health.
Your poop can reflect your digestion, as well as physical, and sometimes even emotional, health.
You may get constipation or have diarrhea when you eat something that “doesn’t agree with you,” or when you’re super-nervous about something. If either of these are a regular occurrence, that where problems may lie. Chronic constipation may lead to auto-intoxication. Poop is waste. It needs to leave our bodies. Auto-intoxication is defined as a state of being poisoned by toxic substances produced within the body. If our system of elimination is impaired proteins putrefy and rot, carbohydrates ferment, and oils and fats turn rancid. The body may become poisoned by its own waste. In my practice, I am amazed to meet so many people who do not poop on the regular. Helping them achieve regular bowel movements is pivotal for them to achieve their best level of health and vitality.
On the flip side chronic diarrhea can also cause problems. If your transit time is too quick, it does not allow your body the opportunity to absorb nutrients. This will create deficiencies and can impair other body functions. Diarrhea will also upset the gut flora, our healthy bacteria. The fast, liquid bowel movements, flush out the bacteria necessary for nutrient absorption, immune health and is responsible for our neurotransmitters needed for cognitive function and mood stability.
Did you know there is an “official” standard for poop?
The Bristol Stool Scale was created at the prestigious University of Bristol in the UK back in 1997. This chart is used to help diagnose conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?
Meet the Bristol Stool Scale
The scale breaks down type of poop into seven different categories ranging from type 1 which is very constipated, to type 7 which is diarrhea:
1 – Separate hard lumps = very constipated.
2 – Lumpy and sausage-like = slightly constipated.
3 – Sausage shaped with cracks in the surface =normal
4 – Smooth, soft sausage = normal.
5 – Soft blobs with clear-cut edges = lacking fiber.
6 – Mushy consistency with ragged edges = inflammation
7 – Liquid consistency with no solid pieces = inflammation
Other “Poop” Factors to Consider
The shapes described in the Bristol Stool Scale are not the only thing to consider for poop health.
How often you go? At least once per day, and up to 3 times per day is pretty good. Less than one, or more than three can mean there is something going on.
What about how hard you have to try to go? Ideally, you want it to be as effortless as possible.
And the color? It should be brown from the bile that you need to break down the fats you ingest.
On occasion, if it’s green after a day of massive veggies, or red after that large glass of beet juice, you’re just fine.
But if you see an abnormal color, like red or even black, that you can’t explain based on what you ate or drank in the last day or two, you probably want to get that checked out.
What Do You Do When You Have “Imperfect” Poo?
Well, the first thing to consider is how imperfect it is, and how often it is like that? Once in a while, things aren’t going to be perfect, and that’s A-OK.
You may need to get more fiber or water. Fresh fruits and veggies are loaded with fiber as are whole grains and legumes such as lentils and beans.
Have you had enough probiotic foods, like yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi and Kombucha? Then try getting more of them.
If you’re super-stressed and recognize that affects your bowel movements, then try practicing some stress management techniques such as deep breathing, meditating, or having a warm bath.
The two most basic pieces of nutrition advice to improve your health and your poop:
- First, eat a variety of nutrient-dense, minimally processed foods, including a lot of fruits & veggies (and their “fibrous” skins, wherever possible). The fiber in these is not only helpful for pushing food through your gut, but they also feed those millions of amazing helpful bacteria that live there (your friendly gut microbes.)
- Second, eat slowly, and mindfully, chewing thoroughly. This is a simple tool to aide in optimal digestion. We have teeth for a reason. Take your time to breakdown your food completely before swallowing. There are also enzymes in our saliva that helps to break down our foods. Rushing through your meal will end up putting further stress on your digestive system and will have an impact on your bowel movements or lack thereof.
These are good habits for anyone and everyone, even when you have perfect poop!
Of course, long-term issues might require a more thorough review with a qualified health care practitioner. Don’t suffer from poop issues for too long before seeking help.
Understanding the ins and outs of how your body works is key towards managing your health. To continue the conversation,
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