Have you ever thought about what is your poo telling you? I know it might seem like a disgusting topic for some, but actually what ends up in the toilet bowl can be a pretty good indicator of not only your digestive health, but your overall health too. Now I am certainly not suggesting you have to look every time or dissect what comes out of your rear end, but just having an awareness of your bowel movements can put you more in touch with your health.
What has poo got to do with it?
So what are stools, to use the proper medical term? They are basically a combination of your body’s waste products, including water, fibre, bacteria, bile and cells which have been sloughed off your intestinal tract as it continually regenerates. So anything your body doesn’t need any more, is excreted in your stools. This also includes excess hormones, which are broken down by your liver and then excreted through your gut in your stools. That’s why if I’m working with anyone on hormone balance, such as oestrogen dominance which is common for someone with endometriosis for example, I’ll always want to make sure the bowel is moving regularly.
It’s surprising how many people just seem to accept unhealthy bowel movements, shrugging it off saying, “oh I have always been someone who goes twice a week” or “I have always had upset stomachs and raced to the loo in the morning.” Just because our bowel movements have always been erratic, doesn’t mean we can’t or shouldn’t do something about it. Most of us know to consult our GPs if our bowel movements suddenly change, thanks to recent media campaigns, however very often people live with chronic constipation, bloating or urgency to pass a stool.
What’s the perfect poo?
Every person is different, but a stool should be well formed – not sloppy or pellet like. Generally the size of a small banana is a good measure for an adult. It is healthy to pass a bowel movement daily, so that unwanted toxins and waste products can be passed out of the body. Most people tend to go to the toilet for a bowel movement once per day, however it is perfectly natural to pass a stool after every meal (although often we simply don’t have time for this in our modern lives!)
Stools do naturally have an offensive smell but it shouldn’t be too strong. You may notice undigested food in your stool, and this could be a sign of poor digestion. Mucus in or around your stools indicates an unhappy gut, and this could be due to inflammation, gluten intolerance or a gut infection. Herbs such as slippery elm may be soothing for the gut, or you could use some L-Glutamine, an amino acid which helps to support gut healing. If you notice blood in your stools or when you wipe, you should certainly speak to your GP to check its nothing more serious than haemorrhoids.
Stools should also be a deep brown colour. Again if they are very pale, dark or even greenish this could be a sign of poor digestion. Very dark blackish stools should be discussed with your GP, although you can have black stools if you are taking an iron supplement.
To float or to sink?
Another common poo topic. Ideally your stools should float. If you produce mostly sinkers, this could indicate a lack of fibre in your diet – try to include more vegetables, seeds and whole grains on a daily basis. If you have pebbly poo, similar to sheep droppings, then this can be a sign of constipation or a stressed bowel. Magnesium may be helpful, as this helps to relax the bowel – choose a magnesium oxide supplement, as this form of the mineral is poorly absorbed by the gut and helps to support the movement of stools along the intestines.
If your stools are particularly slimey and leave a trail on the toilet bowl, this could be a sign that you are not digesting fat very well. You may also notice a greenish khaki colour to your stools. Your gall bladder is very important for fat digestion, and you can give it a little help by drinking hot water with a slice of lemon every morning, as well as herbal teas such as dandelion. Some people also find that a digestive enzyme may help, but I always advise people to have a professional such as myself to check out your diet first and give you advice on what may the best product for you.
Have a look at your poo today and see what it’s trying to tell you… you may be surprised at what you see. If you’re worried about your digestive health or your bowel movements, then please do get in touch to book an appointment. Many of my clients find great relief very quickly, as you can see on my testimonials page.