Natural Living: What your poop tells you about your health
What’s in your toilet bowl gives you great insight into your health. It’s a window to your inner well-being. As a Chinese medical practitioner, we talk about poop all day long because it gives us so much information about the patient. We want to know about frequency, color, smell and texture, so the next time you go to the bathroom, look in the toilet and see what your poop is telling you.
The stool is about 75 percent water. The rest is a combination of fiber, live and dead bacteria, cells and mucus. The properties of your stool tells you a great deal about how happy and healthy your digestive tract is.
Constipation or missing your window to go to the bathroom can be detrimental to your body, as you have blood capillaries that are connected to your large intestine. When you’re not able to excrete it your body can reabsorb many of the toxins coming from the feces. Many factors can contribute to constipation, including stress, taking some medications and traveling.
Sinus infections, depression, hormonal issues, allergies and rashes can all be attributed to dysfunction of the large intestine along with many other health problems. Many people don’t connect these health issues with their gut.
There’s a major connection between your mind and your large intestine, in fact the large intestine houses more neurons than anywhere else in the body except the brain. This is why the large intestine has been touted as the second brain.
Stress absolutely affects our assimilation of food. When we’re stressed our cortisol levels increase, which decrease our digestive fire and hydrochloric acid (HCL), which help break down our proteins in our food and turn on vitamin B12. A deficiency of B12 can affect our nerves, energy levels, mood, heart and vision. Bloating usually indicates low HCL or weak digestive fire.
The lungs in Chinese medicine house the emotion grief, when suppressed gets stuck and filters down to its partner organ, the large intestine. From an emotional perspective, the large intestine is responsible for expressing toxic emotions, so when we don’t express those emotions we become constipated. In 2008 a study published in Neuroendocrinology Letters found when we feel depressed or anxious, we’re more likely to suffer from a “leaky” gut and constipation.
Here are common types of stools you might see in your toilet and what your body could be telling you:
Pencil thin poop — The body is so stressed the large intestine constricts and only allows for a thin bowel to come out. Try magnesium for this and decrease your stress.
Rabbit or pellet poop — Dehydration or lack of fat. Many people are trying to stay away from fat, but fat is essential to our brains, cells and hormones. Fat doesn’t make you fat; sugar makes you fat.
Loose poop — Or soft serve, as some like to call it, can be a factor of nerves or an allergic reaction to a certain food or foods. The most allergenic foods that would cause this are dairy or lactose intolerance, artificial sweeteners, fructose and gluten, but there are a host of others for certain individuals.
Undigested foods in the stool — There are many foods that don’t digest easily; corn is a common one. However, if your digestive fire is weak it doesn’t break down the foods.
Black, tarry stools or bright red stools — May indicate bleeding in the GI tract. Some medications, licorice and beets can cause black or reddish stools. Hemorrhoids can cause bright red blood in the stool. It’s best to be evaluated by your healthcare provider if you see this to rule out internal bleeding.
The following strategies will help you achieve a healthy bowel movement:
In the media, probiotics is a big thing. Many people turn toward yoghurt, however it’s not a therapeutic dose. People who eat mostly processed, packaged foods have a deficiency in good healthy bacteria, (fauna). Boost your intestinal flora by adding a dairy-free probiotic or fermented foods.
Remove all sources of gluten from your diet; consume two servings of fruits and seven servings of vegetables a day. Several servings of vegetables should come from fresh dark leafy greens. Avoid artificial sweeteners, excess sugar, MSG, excessive amounts of caffeine and processed foods. Increase your fiber intake, water intake and get plenty of exercise daily.
Pharmaceutical drugs such as pain killers can slow the bowel function and cause constipation; try to address the health issues or pain that leads you to takes these medications.
Place a step stool under your feet while on the toilet so you’re in a squatting position. This position, which most countries continue to use, straightens your rectum, relaxes your puborectalis muscle and encourages the complete emptying of the bowels without straining. It can also relieve constipation and hemorrhoids.
As you can see, looking at your poop can tell you a lot about your health and what changes you need to implement to lead a healthier and happier life.