I want to talk about my favourite topic – poo! I understand a few of you may consider this to be a topic best left untouched, but if you want great health, you need great poo. There is a simple reason for this, poo tells the story of what’s been happening in the digestive system, and the digestive system is where health begins. Think about it, your digestive system digests your food, breaking down into smaller parts or nutrients, these include amino acids (proteins), fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. It then absorbs those nutrients to run your body. It also processes wastes and excretes it. If you are not digesting, absorbing or excreting properly this is going to have a huge impact on your health including your immune system, your nervous system, your energy levels, even your ability to lose weight. So getting your gut in tip-top shape is one of the first things you should do if you are wanting to achieve amazing health.
At The Wellness Room all practice members get asked a range of questions about their poo including how many times a day do they have a bowel movement? What colour is it? Is it formed or soft? How thick is it? Does it hurt? Is there undigested food in it? Do you see an oily film on the water afterwards? And the list goes on. The truth is the more you know about your poo the better, if you are one of those people who try their hardest to never look at it, it’s time you started looking.
So what can poo tell us? The results from a range of questions like this may indicate a digestive disorder such as irritable bowel syndrome, digestive insufficiency where you are not producing enough enzymes to adequately digest your food, a food intolerance, an overgrowth of bad bacteria or parasites in the gut, how hydrated you are, or simply what sort of food you had for dinner last night. The perfect poo can be hard to define, but in my opinion it looks something like this: you want to be going 1-3 times a day, there is a definite feeling that you need to go but it’s not an irresistible urge, once you sit down there is no conscious effort or straining needed, the stool glides out smoothly and comfortably, little toilet paper is needed and of course you should walk away with a pleasant feeling of relief. The Bristol Stool Chart is a good way to measure where you’re sitting, you ideally want to be aiming for a 4 or 5.
So now that you’ve started looking at your poo the most important thing that you can do is look for unexpected changes that last. If this happens, if there is blood in your stool or if you have black stools and you’re not taking iron supplements then it is best to get this checked out by your doctor. If your stools are just not quite where you want them and you want to achieve the gold standard poo and therefore improve your digestion, then the following tips may help:
1. Eat Your Fruit And Vegetables: We hear all the time that fibre is important for healthy bowels, this is not just for constipation but also for diarrhoea as it beefs up your stool. Most of us think of fibres being grains, which is correct, however this fibre can cause other problems. Eating fruit and vegetables every day will provide you with a great source of fibre as well as a heap of nutrients you don’t get from wheat cereals.
2. Drink Water: If you are dehydrated constipation is likely to follow.
3. Rest And Digest: Our digestive systems work best when we are resting, so take your time eating your food, relax during and after a meal.
4. If You Don’t Digest It, Don’t Eat It: I know it’s tempting, but reaching for that bowl of ice cream when you don’t digest lactose, or having just one bowl of curry even though it sends your bowels into a fit is not doing you any good. Instead find healthy alternatives to any intolerance you may have. Your poo will thank you.
5. Helpful Herbs: There are many herbs that can aid digestion, these range from bitter herbs that stimulate bile flow, to calming herbs to help when you’re digestive system is upset. A few of my favourite herbs for the digestive system include: peppermint for its calming properties; slippery elm for an inflamed and troubled digestive system; and dandelion for the liver and gall bladder.
For some people thorough work is needed on their digestive system. This is particularly true for anyone with long-standing digestive troubles and for those with parasitic infections. If you feel that your digestive system is effecting your health then you may need a more specialised plan to get your digestive system up and running again. Contact your natural health practitioner or The Wellness Room to discuss your options.