When we are consuming our food, we don’t often think about what is going on, at the other end. But what comes out, or in some cases, what doesn’t come out, tells us a lot about what is going on inside!
Ideally your poo would be a medium brown color, solid, fluffy and floaty. They would be easily passed, with movement happening once or twice a day. They look whole and properly formed and though may have a slight smell, won’t be overly pungent.
Upon inspection, if your poo contains anything you can clearly identify as food, it might be an indication that you have low stomach acid or you might have a food intolerance. There are exceptions to this; corn, for example, is not an easily digested food and so will often appear whole in your poo. As a result you are in fact absorbing minimal nutrients from this vegetable and so is not as awesome as you might have originally thought.
If you produce big, dark, pungent bricks the you are probably consuming too many process foods, environmental toxins (which include things like air fresheners, metals and/or personal care items, high in metal and toxins), artificial sweeteners, nicotine or consuming food that has been stored warm in plastic containers. Opt for organic fresh food over processed and try eliminating controllable environmental toxins, such as air-fresheners and chemical rich personal care items.
Poo that is extremely hard and heavy, pebble-like in appearance is often caused by stress, dehydration, lack of soluble fibre or an imbalance in gut flora. You can in fact improve this with relaxation exercises such as deep breathing; deep breathing helps aerate the poo and make it lighter and softer, making it easier to pass, as does drinking lots of water. Perform general relaxation techniques to help your muscles relax also helps. Aim at reducing your stress levels to reduce your Cortisol level; high Cortisol, though necessary in some circumstances, like avoiding a mugging, is in fact responsible for a number of health issues. So reducing stress to reduce Cortisol helps vastly. Probiotics in the form of supplements of food, such as fermented food, can also improve texture, smell and movement.
If consumes large quantity of protein from processed sources, such as protein shakes, protein bars etc, then you may notice that your poo is large, brown and lumpy. A simple solution here to replace processed protein sources with wholesome natural sources such as meat, fish, chicken and eggs.
If your poo is runny, or diarrhea like then this is a clear indication that there are digestive issues. Random occurrences indicate a possibility of an intolerance to a particular food, or that you might have consumed something high in a certain bacteria that has effected your good bacteria in your intestines. If however your poo is runny as a general rule, rather than the exception, then seek guidance from your health professional, as you are more than likely in need of gut repair and digestion assistance. Probiotics are awesome for assisting in gut repair, as are fermented food.
Poo that appears pale or greenish is often a result of consuming too many trans-fats, or processed fats, including, but not limited to, vegetable oil and canola oil. Another possibility is trouble with the gall bladder. If you are not consuming processed fats then you might find that your gallbladder is not working properly. The gallbladder is responsible for adding bile to the fat which helps it break down as part of the digestive process. If this sounds familiar, have your gall bladder checked as it might mean your liver is not functioning properly. Your liver and gall bladder work together as a team.
If you have pain or burning around the anus, this might be a result of eating spicy food. If you have not eaten spicy food, then it may be an indication of disease in your intestine or colon.
It takes about 18 hours from the time of consumption until your food is converted to poo. The longer it takes to pass, the harder and smellier it becomes. It will also create more gas, as gut flora will start feeding on it and you will start to feel cramps and pain as toxins pass into the blood stream. It is for this reason, it is not recommended that you ‘hold on’; if you need to go, go!
What are some simple strategies to help improve your output?
- Chew your food properly. The digestive process actually starts when you start to think about food. your saliva glands release extra saliva to help with chewing food and breaking it down, making it easier to swallow. The more you chew your food, and the more you indulge in taking your time to enjoy what you are eating, the more saliva that is secreted and therefore the better the beginning of the entire process.
- To help speed up slow bowel movements, eat your vegetables or fruit raw.
- If you need to slow your movements down, eat more wholesome natural sources protein and fat, such as fish, meat, chicken, eggs, avocados, coconut oil, organic butter, and raw nuts.
- Drink plenty of water. Consuming lots of water helps keep your poo light and fluffy, helping with flow.
- Vegetables like celery, flax seeds, kiwi (with the skin on), chia seeds, and sea vegetables are great for movement.
- If you are struggling with the quality of your output, have your stomach acid checked by your health professional. If you suffer gas or bloating, heartburn, indigestion, nausea or stomach ulcers, these can all be caused by an imbalance in your stomach acid. Often stomach acid is raised too high by spicy or salty food.
- Vegetables that help detox your liver include cauliflower, cabbage, cress, bok choy and broccoli, or otherwise known as cruciferous vegetables. Lemons are also awesome for detoxing your liver. Try having a warm glass of water with fresh lemon juiced squeezed into it every morning, for a natural liver detox.
- Reduce your intake of processed food, and sugar intake, to help maintain a good balance in gut flora. Eating garlic, oregano, thyme, and other antimicrobials, help reduce bad bacteria in the intestines and gut.
- Regular exercise helps bowel movement. Exercise has a large number of benefits when it comes to your poo. It reduces your stress and therefore reduces your cortisol level, the associated problem with which, we have already explored. it increases your Serotonin levels and therefore improves digestion. It increases your consumption of water, due to perspiration. It increases air flow, which helps movement and it speeds up your metabolism which aids in the digestive process.
- And finally, as discussed earlier, reduce your stress levels. Stress creates hormonal havoc which is chaos for digestion.
So next time you have movement, it pays to have a quick inspection of the bottom of the bowl, and see if there is anything your poo is trying to tell you about your food, and your life.