We’ve Got Some Sh*t to Talk to you About…Literally
If there’s one thing naturopath’s LOVE to talk about it’s bowel movements, aka poop, and here’s why:
The characteristics of our poop act like little (or big) hints from our body telling us what’s going on on the inside. According to the Bristol Stool Chart, our ideal poop should be about a 3 or 4 on the scale. This means a brown sausage-like structure with either a smooth or minorly cracked surface. Another sign of a healthy bowel is visiting the “throne” approximately 3 times a day to 3 times a week (this range of normal can depend on the person).
If you go Less –> Constipation is defined as having BMs less than 3 times per week, possibly with a hard consistency, and/or pain/straining on defecation. Just because you don’t experience physical symptoms doesn’t mean you are not technically constipated. Infrequent bowel movements alone are enough to be concerning. If you are not able to eliminate your body’s waste products, they are left to be reabsorbed. The longer between BMs, the longer your body can reabsorb those disgusting toxins and cause other problems. Yuck!
If you go More –> Chronic Diarrhea or it’s alternation with constipation can signify other pathological concerns such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome or Irritable Bowel Disease. On the opposite side of the spectrum, if you are going too much, your body doesn’t have time to absorb all the yummy nutrients you feed it. Leaving it malnourished and dehydrated :(
Other goodies -> Finding things like undigested food in your stool, blood, or mucous are also of concern and probably warrant a visit to your primary health care physician.
Use these tips to regulate your bowels:
Squat Position - When you squat, the hips flex thereby straightening the rectoanal canal. This creates a smoother passage way for your poop to exit. You can achieve a variation of this by placing your feet up on the toilet, but make sure to place them wider then your hips.
Drink water + Fiber - Meet your bowels new best friends. Fiber can act as a bulking agent in diarrhea and help to increase transit time in constipation. A whole foods diet including fruits, veggies, & nuts/seeds are a great way of getting additional fiber. Make sure to pair it with enough water to avoid too much bulking! Plus if your stools are on the dry side the extra water will help them smooth out.
Rest and digest - Many of us are constantly in a hurry but this works against our body’s parasympathetic nervous system; the system in charge of rest and digest. If we eat on the go our digestive system can’t turn on, leading to gastrointestinal dysfunction. So take a breath, chew, smell, and mindfully enjoy each bite.
Belly Rubs - If you are experiencing some acute abdominal discomfort it might help to give yourself a belly rub. Try going along the passage of your large intestine – massaging in a clockwise circle starting on the bottom right, moving up and across your whole abdomen and REPEAT! This will help your body to move things along when its being a bit slow. This is the most simple way to achieve this, so if you enjoy it there are more versions we can suggest for even better results! You’d be surprise at how well it works.
Now that you’re a little more informed I challenge you to a Poop-off. Track the frequency of your poop (there’s apps out there) and dare to look inside the bowl for one month. Don’t be afraid to share, it’s natural after all.
American Gastroenterological Association
Amarenco, G. (2014). Bristol Stool Chart : étude prospective et monocentrique de « l’introspection fécale » chez des sujets volontaires. Progrès En Urologie, 24(11), 708-713. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.purol.2014.06.008
Increasing Your Fibre Intake. (2016). Dietitians of Canada. Retrieved 25 April 2016, from http://www.dietitians.ca/Your-Health/Nutrition-A-Z/Fibre/Increasing-Your-Fibre-Intake.aspx
Sakakibara, R., Tsunoyama, K., Hosoi, H., Takahashi, O., Sugiyama, M., & Kishi, M. et al. (2010). Influence of Body Position on Defecation in Humans. LUTS: Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms, 2(1), 16-21. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1757-5672.2009.00057.x
Sleisenger, M., Fordtran, J., Feldman, M., & Scharschmidt, B. (1998). Sleisenger & Fordtran's gastrointestinal and liver disease. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders.