poo

Poop. We all do it, hopefully daily, but we don’t usually like to talk about it.

But today we’re getting down and dirty and talking all about good ol’ number two. First, here’s a bit of a strange request.

I want you to get into the habit of observing your dump.

I know, a lot of us like to flush as soon as possible to spare ourselves the supposed horror we’ve just left behind but when you do that, you’re literally flushing valuable information down the drain.

How, you ask? Well, your poop tells all. It can provide a tremendous amount of insight into the function of your digestive system and the health of your body overall.

The practice of inspecting your poop is a great awareness tool that can allow you to reflect on your health and eating practices daily. But what should you be looking for? Here’s a handy dandy list.

  • One complete elimination in the morning
  • A brown color
  • A banana shape
  • Does not stick to the toilet
  • Easy to wipe – no mess
  • Minimal odor
  • Almost always the same regardless of foods eaten

Imbalanced Stool

  • Mucus in the stool (looks like cobwebs wrapping around poop)
  • Green or yellow stool (not from eating excess green veggies)
  • Black stool
  • Greasy or shiny stool
  • Clay-colored stool
  • Blood in the stool
  • Undigested food in the stool

What does the color of your poop mean?

Spoiler: Neon is bad.

As mentioned before, brown is what your stool should be. Some other colors you may see include red, green, yellow, white, and black.

All of these other colors (barring the consumption of foods or medications that would cause a temporary shift, such as beets) could be indicative of something going on in the body that needs to be addressed. Here are some possibilities:

  • Red could mean lower GI bleeding.
  • Green could mean Crohn’s Disease.
  • Yellow could mean gallbladder trouble or parasites.
  • White could indicate liver disease or pancreatic problem.
  • Black could mean upper GI bleeding.

Consult with your doctor if your stool is an unusual color for an extended time.

How often should you poop, anyway?

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WebMD says: “Depending on your diet, age, and daily activity, regularity can mean anything from three bowel movements a day to three each week.”

However,  there’s more to proper bowel function than just being regular. For example, you should be able to:

  • Pass a bowel motion within about a minute of sitting down on the toilet.
  • Pass a bowel motion without pain – ideally, you should not be straining on the toilet or struggling to pass a hard or dry stool.
  • Complete evacuation of your bowel; you should not have to go back to the bathroom soon after to pass more.

So how do you achieve the perfect poop?

  1. Chew your food! Shoot for 27 chews per bite. It should be a paste before you swallow.
  2. Eat until you are 80% full. Overeating is a massive burden on the digestive system.
  3. Remove all sources of gluten from your diet (the most common sources are wheat, barley, rye, spelt and other grains)
  4. Eat a diet that includes whole foods, rich in fresh, organic vegetables and fruits that provide healthy nutrients and fiber; most of your fiber should come from vegetables, not from grains
  5. Avoid artificial sweeteners, excess sugar (especially fructose), chemical additives, MSG, excessive amounts of caffeine, and processed foods, as they are all detrimental to your gastrointestinal (and immune) function
  6. Boost your intestinal flora by adding naturally fermented foods into your diet, such as sauerkraut, pickles, and kefir (if you tolerate dairy); add a probiotic supplement if you suspect you are not getting enough beneficial bacteria from your diet alone.