“All living things eat, so Everyone Poops.” – Everyone Poops by Taro Gomi
It seems a natural progression that we focused on increasing the fiber in our diet last week and are progressing natural elimination this week
Yes, we all poop. It’s one of the few reminders we get about our health on a (hopefully) daily basis and yet, we may not be paying much attention to it. But the truth is: if you’re not pooping right… something could be terribly wrong inside your body.
Recent research suggests that your brain and the good bacteria in your gut communicate directly, influencing your mood, your immune system, and your inflammation.
Also, there’s good short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) in your colon, which have anti-inflammatory effects and increase insulin sensitivity.
Hopefully we are doing a good job of consuming fresh, healthy, whole foods. But are we digesting them well? Are we breaking down and absorbing those nutrients well? The quality of your poop is a direct indication of how well you’re digesting your food.
If you’re poop isn’t healthy, your digestive tract is either moving too slow or too fast… which can lead to an increased risk of developing chronic health conditions like neurological disease, autoimmune disease and chronic inflammatory conditions.
Where Does Your Poop Stack Up?
There’s four critical elements to a perfect poop.
1. How often do you poop?
Research suggests you should poop every day. In fact, the range of “normal” is typically 1-3 times a day. Poop is waste and it’s best to get rid of it every single day. I once took a Vegetarian cooking class in which the instructor suggested we should poop after EVERY meal. While that may sound excessive my dog manages to do that!
The bottom line: If you find yourself pooping only a couple times a week… or going 5+ times a day, you’re at risk of health problems.
2. Are You Pushing Too Hard?
How easy is it for you to poop? It’s normal in our culture to take a newspaper or read a magazine for a half hour, battling to win the poop fight. But the reality is that a “normal” poop shouldn’t take but a few minutes. It should also be easy. This isn’t childbirth. Forceful pushing typically leads to hemorrhoids which are all too common today but not normal.
The bottom line: Normal poops strike a balance between not having to push or strain, but also not having so much urgency you barely can hold it. If you’re spending 10+ minutes on the toilet or running to make it just in time, you’re not having normal bowel movements.
3. Does Your Poop Look Like a Snake?
The most important part of a “normal” poop is the quality and the University of Bristol published a study in the Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology, gifting us with the Bristol Stool Chart (4).
Here it is for your inspection!
Start sizing up your recent BM’s with the knowledge that anything between a 1-3 is considered constipated, while 6’s and 7’s are considered diarrhea.
The bottom line: A “normal” poop is “like a sausage or a snake, smooth and soft." If your poops aren’t looking 4ish… they’re not normal.
4: Are you getting it all out?
For some people this is a non-issue… but part of a “normal” poop is having what’s so eloquently referred to as a “full evacuation.” Are you getting all your poop out in one swift motion? Do you have to keep coming back to finish the job? Or do you feel like there’s always something left behind lingering and making you feel uncomfortable?
The bottom line: A “normal” poop is a complete poop. If you never quite feel the relief of fully evacuating your bowels then you are missing the mark here.
How to Improve Your Poop
If your poop isn’t normal based on the quiz above, we know your digestive health isn’t what it should be. So here’s a few tips to improve your digestive health and get closer to perfect poops.
1. Eat Real Food
Fast food, highly processed and refined foods, fried foods etc. can gunk up the system. Stick to eating fresh, real, whole food. It’s one of the most important changes anyone with digestive problems can make.
If you’re someone who’s struggling with constipation or diarrhea. The most important thing you can do is listen to what your poop is telling you and continue to make changes to improve the food you’re eating.
2. Eat Good Bugs
Our gut has a TON of bacteria, and a healthy gut flora is critical for healthy poop. Consume good bugs every single day. Try small amounts of foods like yogurt. Kefir, sauerkraut and kimchee and see how well you tolerate them. A high quality probiotic supplement is another way to boost the immune system in the gut and improve digestive health.
3. Eat More Fat
Fat has a direct impact on peristalsis… the waves our bodies make to get rid of poop. Fat can be extremely helpful for people who are constipated. Increase your healthy fats from sources like coconut oil, animal fat, olive oil, and fermented cod liver oil.
4. Get enough fiber. Hopefully you spent some time focusing on that and have made permanent adjustments if needed in your daily diet.
Sufficient fiber in your diet makes stool bulkier and softer so it's easier to pass. You should gradually increase the amount of fiber in your diet until you're getting at least 20 to 35 grams of fiber daily.
5. Drink more water You should be drinking a minimum of 8 glasses of water a day. If you are still suffering from constipation try increasing it to 10.
6. Exercise regularly. Moving your body will keep your bowels moving. Aerobic exercise is key. While any type of movement will help, exercises that have a slight impact are best. Think running or rebounding. This type of exercise helps get things moving simply because of the force it puts on the intestines.
7. Get in Position- The squatting position for elimination is more natural and can help avoid colon disease, constipation, hemorrhoids, pelvic floor issues and similar ailments. Since you may not want to be squatting in your back yard garden try putting your feet on a stool while using the toilet to get your body in better position for elimination. Note: if you are brave enough for a video on the subject that some people find hilarious go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YbYWhdLO43Q
I know, I know maybe the weirdest weekly challenge we have had. And no I’m not going to give you 5 points for every day you have at least one snake shaped poop. But you should be having daily regular bowel movements that resemble #4 on the chart. You earn 5 bonus points for every day that you use some of the methods mentioned in this blog post toward achieving that goal. And please I don’t want any pictorial evidence of success. (And yes you can even work on this on the Sabbath)