Although some people find bowel habits a source of embarrassment, what happens in your bathroom can provide you with a whole lot of insight into not only how well your digestive system is working, but also how to fix it. Concerned your poop isn’t up to scratch? Not sure what your poop is meant to look like? Before you flush, you might want to read this!
If your digestive system is not working properly, you are at greater risk of having a weakened immune system, suffering from malnutrition (even if you’re eating all the right foods) and even struggling with mood disorders such as depression. Better understanding your digestion is the first step you can take to optimise your overall health and even shift those unwanted kilos, eliminate headaches and skin conditions and manage auto-immune conditions.
How do you do this I hear you ask? Let’s take a look at the four most common types of poop and what they mean:
The Rabbit Poop
If you see hard lumps in the toilet, chances are you have a tendency towards constipation. The best thing to do in this case is increase your intake of clean, filtered water as well as up your intake of leafy greens and other vegetables.
Rabbit poop can also be a sign of poor gut bacteria and as such, you may require a boost in gut-friendly bacteria. You can read more about this here.
The Out-of-Shape Poop
While rabbit poop is more of a constipation issue, out of shape poop falls on the diarrhoea side of the spectrum. Unformed stool is often associated with a short transit time, which means the foods you are eating are moving too quickly within your digestive tract and hence, you are leaving little time for your body to assimilate the required nutrients. To help solidify the stool, cut your intake of processed foods (in particular ALL artificial sweeteners) and increase your intake of fibre (lots of fresh vegetables and leafy greens). If that’s not enough, chronic diarrhoea can be the result of an infection (from any kind of microbe like that of a parasite, fungi or bacteria), if this is the case, you will need to seek the help of a professional to restore full health.
Looking at your poo and seeing what you ate for dinner the night before? Either you have not chewed your food well enough or your digestive system is in need of support. The exception to this rule is the odd kernel of corn, flax seeds or piece of tomato skin that can be difficult to digest.
For many people seeing what you ate for dinner is indicative of low stomach acid. Low stomach acid can be caused by stress, antacid medications and an H. Pylori infections. It also appears that eating a vegetarian diet for a significant period of time can also lower your stomach acid levels.
Another cause of undigested food particles in your food is not chewing your food properly. Slow down and chew your food (there are no extra teeth in your stomach!).
To help restore your poop to it’s natural state, address your levels of stress, chew your food properly and opt for some natural remedies to help boost your stomach acid production such as lemon juice in warm water, apple cider vinegar, pineapple and paw paw. If you’ve addressed all of the above and you’re still struggling, additional support from various available digestive enzymes might be required.
The Floating Foul-Smelling Poop
Floating, foul smelling, skid mark leaving and/or pale in colour poop is a clear indication that you’re malabsorbing fats. The most common cause of this a dramatic increase in the intake of fats and is very common for those letting go of the low-fat dogma. Eating fat is not bad, it’s just the liver and the gall-bladder need a little bit of time to increase bile production. If your poop falls into this category, the best strategy is to cut back on your fat intake and begin to increase it slowly as you adjust. You would also want to boost the health of your liver and gall-bladder to help the process, hot water and lemon juice daily is a great place to start.
The Perfect Poop
The perfect poop should be the size and shape of a banana and be easy to pass. If your digestion is optimal you should be having at least 1 bowel movement per day, but up to 2-3 per day is ok. The colour should be a shade of mission brown.
For some people, implementing the above strategies may not be enough to optimise digestion. In that case, you might want to consider being tested for gastro-intestinal infections and food sensitivities. See your local naturopath or integrative specialist for more information.