Everyone does it but no everyone is comfortable talking about it. Heck, mentioning it will sometimes risk you not getting invited to the next dinner party.
Ok, so poo may be a shitty topic to talk about but it is a very healthy thing to talk about. It tells us a lot about our health. In fact our bowel movements give us an A+ grade look into the state of our wellbeing.
What and how you eat affects your digestive system, and sometimes, your bowel movements can change simply because of changes in your diet. Other times, changes in bowel movements signify something more serious. What’s normal depends on each individual person, but there are some signs you can look for that mean something may be off.
“Sometimes, the colour of your poop can reflect what you eat. For example, eating a lot of green, leafy vegetables can turn your poop green. Also, food colouring can change the colour of your poop. In these cases, it’s OK if your poop isn’t quite so brown,” explained Nitin Ahuja, MD, MS, physician at Penn Gastroenterology Perelman. Although this is the case, other times, there may be something else going on that’s causing your poo to change colour.
We all may think we are healthy but it comes down to assessing your poo to make this claim. Healthy poo can be varied as everyone is unique obviously, however there are a few generalised rules to follow to see whether your health is optimal
The colour, shape, size, consistency, length and frequency all are important why assessing your poo.
The Colour (Insert Poo Emoji)
That oh so well known poo emoji is actually quite accurate with its colour scheme. Or healthy poo colour I should say. This brown is optimal and is achieve through bilirubin, a pigment compound formed from the breakdown of red blood cells in the body. Anything that differs drastically away from this colour sounds alarm bells.
However, our poo can change colour with certain foods we eat.
Red poo can often be caused from eating red coloured foods like beetroot however it could also be blood in the poo or haemorrhoids. So make sure you analyse red poo asap.
Black poo can also be caused from eating black foods like licorice, supplementing too much iron or bleeding in the upper intestinal tract.
Green poo can again be from eating green foods although it could mean you're passing poo to quickly and your nutrients are not being absorbed.
Similarly yellow poo can reflect malabsorption, too much fat in your diet or that you may have celiacs disease.
A little green tinge is A-OK however and is still healthy.
Our poo size was always something to brag about at school but its actually a serious topic. When your poo becomes hard to pass and falls out in small pellet type size then this is something of concern. Instead your poo should be a couple inches in length, comfortable and easy to pass. Relatively easy to pass is quite important folks. Straining yourself when trying to pass poo is uncomfortable and unhealthy.
When your poo varies from a sausage/log type shape then your body is trying to tell you something. I recently went surfing in Fiji and a older bloke who I was surfing with described the perfect shape of a poo. You heard it here first. Your poo must be able to slide out without discomfort and resemble a log. At the end of the log however the poo must narrow off with a point, as if to have been pinched off. This way, minimal poo is left on your anus and wiping effort is kept to a minimum.
Too firm and it hurts, too soft and its messy. Somewhere between firm and soft consistency is pretty much normal and healthy. If it sways one way or another, it could suggest some digestion or fibre issues in your bowel.
How often you poo is important as too little and there could be signs of constipation and chronic dehydration. Also, too often and you be experiencing bowel irritation and poor gut health.
You should be aiming to poo 1-3 times a day, any less and you could be showing signs of constipation and any more could be showing that you have an infection or something blocking your digestive tract.
Eat more fibre from vegetables if you're pooing too frequently as it slows down food passage through your intestines, which gives you more time to absorb precious nutrients.
But I Have Food in my Poo
A little bit of food in your poo is fine, but if your poo is mostly undigested food, something’s going on. It’s likely that you lack the good gut bacteria that break down fibres.
If this is the case for you try crushing up the food you're eating so the nutrients can be broken down easier. Also try and chew your food up to 15 times before you swallow. This way you're allowing your body to take full advantage of the nutrients in the food you just ate.
What is Constipation
Constipation is the passing of hard, dry bowel motions (stools) that may be infrequent or difficult to pass. The most common causes of constipation include a change in routine, not enough fibre in the daily diet, not enough fluids and lack of exercise. Constipation is defined as having less than three bowel movements per week.
How to Overcome Constipation
If you’re experiencing this clogged-up feeling, you can add more high fibre foods to your diet like beans, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Drinking lots of fluids, staying active, and managing stress can also all help to alleviate constipation.
Here are my top tips for great poo's:
I recommend staying away from laxatives because its very harsh for your gut lining and often makes you feel a little run down, as well as dehydrating you. Instead, opt for a natural laxative like prunes, dates, and dandelion tea.
Add magnesium to your supplement regime
Eat a plate full of salad greens/fruit at eat meal to loosen and add bulk to your poo.
Be sure you’re getting enough healthy, high-fat foods, like nuts and avocados too.
Im Not Constipated, Im Pooing Too Much
Over pooing is a serious issue and can be highlighting that you're doing something wrong.
Here are my top tips:
Eating fibre rich and leafy green vegetables will help bulk up your poo and be harder to pass as frequently.
Slowly reduce the amount of grains, gluten and alcohol you're consuming as they all can affect your stomach lining and impact the diversity of you gut bacteria. Especially alcohol.
Feed your gut biome with prebiotic-rich foods like sweet potato, carrots, and asparagus and experiment with fermented foods like kombucha, and sauerkraut.
Don't be afraid to bring up some good old fashion poo chat are your next dinner party. We are all in need of checking the toilet bowl. Who knows what you will find out about yourself.