Wellness

Why is No One Talking About Their Poop?

by Carissa Zadwarny

Categories
Wellness

Why is No One Talking About Their Poop?

Time to get up close and personal.

If you clicked on this article just based off the headline, you’re a real one. And your body thanks you. No but really though, health is wealth. And poop is like the cherry on top of the healthiest sundae your body could ever dream of having. Sorry for the poor comparison but I really had to drive it home here. I have a point, I promise. 

If you’re not talking about your poop, here’s your reminder to start. If you already are, well you should feel right at home already. Which is great because things are about to get super intimate. Ready?

Functional medicine dietician, Sarah Greenfield, RD CSSD, of Fearless Fig, Studio City considers herself a poop aficionado and advises that everyone should be taking the time to check out their bowels daily.

CZ

For starters, should we be looking at our poop, daily? If so, what should we be looking for?

SG

Yes! Looking at your poop daily can give you insights into your health. You don’t have to spend more than 15 seconds looking at your poop, you just want to take a quick look. Some of the most important things to look for are consistency, texture and color. You want your poop to be well formed and not break apart when you flush it, a well-formed poop is a great sign!  You don’t want it to be too formed and hard, that could indicate not enough water and fiber in your diet. You don’t want it to be too loose because that could indicate a bacterial imbalance or underlying food allergies or sensitivities. It’s important to look for undigested food in your poop, if you see food (other than corn or black quinoa) this could indicate you are under higher levels of stress and you may need some additional enzyme support. If your poop is floating it could mean two things, you are eating a very high fiber diet or you aren’t breaking down fat appropriately. Finally color. You want your poop to be some shade of brown. If it’s black, you might have some internal bleeding, if its yellow it could indicate your liver or gallbladder may need additional support.There might be occasional moments where you deviate from a healthy bowel movement, but as long as it is once or twice and not consistent, that is ok too!

CZ

What does a healthy bowel movement entail?

SG

A healthy bowel movement entails a feeling of complete elimination, it should move out of your body easily without straining or pushing, be well-formed and ideally have a minimal clean-up.
poop5

CZ

What does an unhealthy bowel movement entail?

SG

An unhealthy bowel movement is difficult to pass with lots of gas and straining. It can also be on the other end of the spectrum where it is watery and creates a sense of urgency where you feel like you might not make it to the bathroom. You may even be able to see undigested food particles in your poop.

CZ

How do you know if you’re “regular?”

SG

I define regular as having 1 daily, well-formed bowel movement that leaves you feeling completely emptied out. Some people will have more than one bowel movement during the day, which is great as well as long as it is well-formed.

“The more diverse your diet, the more diverse your gut.”

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poop4

CZ

Can your poop detect a problem inside your body?

SG

Your poop can give you a lot of insight into what is going on in your body. However, some people can have healthy poops and still have underlying imbalances, so it is good to have your routine physicals.

CZ

What are the potential dangers of prolonged unhealthy bowel movements?

SG

Unhealthy bowel movements can indicate an imbalance in the healthy bacteria in the microbiome. Over-time this can lead to a decrease in the production of probiotics or the compounds that healthy probiotics make. Short chain fatty acids, b-vitamins, hormones and Vitamin K are all made by probiotics in the gut’s microbiome and are important to overall health. Adequate short chain fatty acids can help decrease inflammation and have been linked with a decreased risk of colon cancer. They also feed other bacteria in the gut helping to keep it diverse. Your immune system is regulated by your gut, so when your digestion isn’t working properly it can impact overall immunity. It can also make allergies worse.

CZ

What kind of long and short term effect can irregular and unhealthy bowel movements have on the skin?

SG

Your digestion is a huge part of overall detoxification. If you aren’t pooping regularly your body is holding onto toxins that can damage the skin and certain hormones can actually get reactivated if you aren’t going frequently. This can impact the skin and cause breakouts. If your gut is irregular over a longer period of time this can indicate low-grade inflammation which eventually will show up on the skin. Things like eczema and psoriasis are external presentations of internal inflammation.

CZ

What are a few ways to improve your digestion at home?

SG

The more diverse your diet, the more diverse your gut. Aim to eat a variety of whole foods throughout the week. Eliminate foods that can cause inflammation like hydrogenated oils, refined sugar in high levels and refined carbohydrates. Some people do really well with dairy and gluten elimination too! Adding in some basic supplements can also help. I like digestive enzymes to help support digestion and macronutrient breakdown; prebiotics like hydrolyzed guar gum to feed native bacterial cultures in the gut and soil-based probiotics to help create space for healthy bacteria to grow and crowd out bad bacteria. Manage stress — this is critical to better digestive health. Breathing exercising, putting your legs up the wall to calm down, float tanks, meditation and even hypnosis can all help improve digestion.

CZ

When should you see a doctor?

SG

You should go to the doctor whenever you are feeling like something is not right. Bleeding, feeling light-head, diarrhea or constipation that lasts more than several days, nausea, itching, severe bloating and pain, are all good reasons to go to the doctor so they can rule out anything dangerous. Then you come to someone like me, a functional practitioner to help you rebuild your gut and get your digestion back on track!

CZ

What’s one thing you want everyone to know about gut health?

SG

Don’t let it defeat you or feel like this is just the way your body will always be. There is a way to heal your digestion and turn things around so you don’t have to suffer. You should always feel empowered in your body vs. defeated by it!

Interview courtesy of Sarah Greenfield (@fearlessfig)

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