Lets talk about poop!
Its something we don't tend to discuss openly and yet is is an absolutely essential function of our physiology that is required in order to eliminate toxins from our bodies that accumulate from the process of ingestion, digestion and metabolism.
Just like a vehicle that burns fuel and eliminates waste via its exhaust fumes. Our bodies eliminate the waste from our foods via several organs- the skin, our breath, our kidneys and our large intestines ( bowels)
If a vehicle fails to emit exhaust fumes, it breaks down. If the amazing machine called the human body fails to eliminate the waste from the fuel we call food then we too will start to "break down". Health and wellbeing will start to suffer.
As a nutritionist assessing my clients bowel habits is just one area of discussion that I may focus on to help them achieve optimal health. In this article I will focus mainly on the issues surrounding slow transit times (constipation) and in another article I will focus on issues with rapid transit times.
What Happens if you don't poop?
Depending on individual physiology your bowels ideally should be emptied daily or every other day. If this is a less than 3 times a week occurrence you may well be constipated. Pooping should be as easy as peeing with no straining. Its not necessarily how regular you are but how easy it is to poop when you do.
A slow and sluggish transit time through your bowel can lead to an accumulation of unwanted toxins with bloating and gas due to unhealthy bacterial build up, straining to eliminate the bowel can lead to haemorrhoids. Nausea, loss of appetite, headaches, lethargy, poor skin condition and a general feeling of discomfort and feeling unwell.
What may be the cause of your constipation?
There are many reasons why someone may be constipated,
Some drugs and medications especially pain killers and certain types of iron supplements can cause constipation.
A general lack of fluids and dehydration-
a lack of movement - Sedentary lifestyle
A diet high in fats and convenience foods
A diet low is soluble fibre
Disordered eating and eating disorders
Yo yo dieting and food restricting
Dysbiosis- an in balance of gut bacteria
These are some of the lifestyle factors. There could be other more serious issues and if you are concerned you should consult with your GP.
What is a healthy poo?
Heard of the Bristol stool chart? This is a chart devised to help determine a persons intestinal health. Devised in England by Stephen Lewis and Ken Heaton at the University Department of Medicine, Bristol Royal Infirmary in 1997. However since then there have been numerous alternatives and the one below is one of my favourites comparing the stool types to it to well known confectionary.!!! Thankyou to the genius (unknown) who devised this version.
Referring back to my title you can probably now equate that a healthy poop is a number 4. If its a 1, 2 or 3 you may be constipated, a 5, 6 or 7 shows rapid transit time which also requires intervention and may be helped with nutrition which I will discuss in a future blog.
What can you do to help achieve a perfect 4?
1) Drink more fluids. Water, herbal teas, as hydration can help the matter in the large bowel become softer and do be eliminated more easily
2) Increase the amount you move around- stagnation builds stagnation
3) Increase your intake of soluble fibre- fruits vegetables, soft fruits such as water melon, summer fruits, vegetables such as salads and baked potatoes. Also pulses such as beans and lentils. These help to absorb water as well as increase bulk in the large intestine. Plus they are a good source of food for beneficial bacteria acting as a pre biotic. So helping to improve the gut microbiome.
4) Take a daily supplement of probiotics- beneficial bacteria. Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are the key names to look for with at lease 10 billion live bacteria per capsule. Research is showing that a good amount of beneficial bacteria in your gut has a profound effect not only on your digestive health but also on your immune system and your psychological health.
5) Go when you need to go! Don't hold on if you feel the need to poop. Many people feel uncomfortable pooping at work but not going when your body tells you its time Is the one of the worst things you can do. Holding on keeps those toxins inside when they need to be eliminated.
6) Avoid laxatives . Like many medications they just treat the symptoms rather than the underlying cause!. Some can also cause the colon to become dependent on the stimulant effect and so in the long term reduce the peristalsis action of the colon which may have been the cause of the initial constipation in the first place! Instead of taking laxatives because you are constipated, try to discover the reason WHY you may be constipated and then look at ways in which you may be able to change your diet and lifestyle to help. Maybe trying some of the suggestions in this article or, speaking with a nutritionist. I offer a complimentary discovery call to discuss all your health concerns and how nutrition and functional medicine may be of help to you.
So, I've done it Iv written a blog about pooping!!!