[Note From Katie: Please welcome Jordan Reasoner from SCDLifestyle.com! I've gotten a lot of emails about digestive health, autoimmune disease and the gut connection, and he is much more qualified to help with this topic! Leave questions and comments for him in the comments below!]
“All living things eat, so Everyone Poops.” – Everyone Poops by Taro Gomi
Who hasn’t read that literary masterpiece to their kids at some point along the way? As parents, we spend the first 3-5 years of our children’s lives handling poop. Every. Single. Day. Poop.
Between diaper changes and snack time, it’s easy to forget about our own poop. And if your house is anything like mine, most bathroom breaks usually involve an unexpected toddler wandering in for the party. But if we actually stop and take a look in the toilet bowl… our poop can be a very real indication of our health.
Your poop is telling you something
We all poop. It’s one of the few reminders we get about our health on a (hopefully) daily basis and yet, we don’t pay much attention to it. Not only that, but we also don’t like to talk about it. In our culture, sometimes it’s easier to talk to people about sex than poop.
But the truth is: if you’re not pooping right… something could be terribly wrong inside your body.
Next, there’s good short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) in your colon, which have anti-inflammatory effects and increase insulin sensitivity (4).
Most of us spend the time and energy to consume healthy, non-GMO, organic food. But are we digesting it 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.
Think of your poop like the annoying chirping sound your smoke detector makes when the battery is low. It’s relentlessly letting you know the battery is low… and if you don’t do something about it, your house could burn down (with you and your family in it).
However if you’re pooping well… it could be an indication your body is relatively healthy and a good sign you’re winning when it comes to health.
Where does your poop stack up?
There’s four critical elements to a perfect poop. If you’ve ever had one… you know how amazing they are. But if you’re not sure, take this quiz and see where you stack up.
1. How often do you poop?
The research suggests you should poop every day. In fact, the range of “normal” is typically 1-3 times a day. Poop is waste and you need to get rid of it every single day to make sure that you’re properly removing toxins and other waste material that’s gotta go. Many people have a bowel movements every time they eat.
The bottom line: If you find yourself pooping 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. 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, so part of this quiz requires you to look down and see what’s really going on. Thankfully, the folks at the University of Bristol published a study in the Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology, gifting us with the Bristol Stool Chart (5).
Here it is in all its glory:
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… you’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 I’m talking about here… you’re not having ideal bowel movements.
Here’s a few helpful tips 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
The biggest mistake we see is people that claim to eat healthy, but they’re still consuming things like grains, soy, and table sugar. Stick to eating real 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, a diet like the Specific Carbohydrate Diet can help heal your gut and get control of your symptoms. 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. Start with foods like sauerkraut, kombucha or water kefir and see how well you tolerate them. A high quality probiotic is one supplement that can also 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. Or drink this coffee.
If you took this quiz and aren’t having “normal” poops right now, try these three changes for 30-days and see how you feel. The best part about poop is that you’ll keep doing it, so you have regular signs of whether or not things are improving.
Let us know in the comments, where does your poop stack up?
Bio: Jordan Reasoner is a health engineer, author, and consultant. Celiac Disease almost took his life in 2007, but he transformed his health using the Specific Carbohydrate Diet and started SCDLifestyle.com to help others naturally overcome digestive problems and enjoy perfect poops. Go say hi!