Are you ready to dive into a topic that many have shied away from? It’s the thing that we all do…but no one wants to talk about. Yup, we’re talkin’ about poop.
I didn’t choose this topic simply to make you squirm; it’s actually a really important thing to talk about. What you eat and how it comes out can say a lot about what’s happening inside your digestive system.
I’ve spent the last 10 years touring around and talkin’ to people about poop. I think I’ve heard about every possible type of poop there is and nothing really surprises me anymore…other than how squeamish people get.
Five years ago, I presented at TEDxKelowna and talked about the Gut/Brain Connection. It was inevitable that a talk about gut bacteria would also involve some mention of poop and bowel habits. Yes, I said diarrhea. And constipation. To me, no biggie.
After the dress rehearsal, one of the other speakers told me that I had made the people in the audience (which were just the other speakers) really uncomfortable during my talk. Really? I asked her what the problem was. Well, she felt that “diarrhea” was too “colourful” and I should remove it before the event the next day.
I’m a rebel at heart, so I said “diarrhea” at least twice (and it’s on YouTube for the world to see). I’m not going to let one person’s squeamishness stop me from talking about an important topic.
So, I’m asking you to get over any of your squeamishness and become a poop expert. Your body and your digestive system will thank you.
Why Look Down?
After you’ve done your business, take a look down. What do you see?
Is it formed? Or a giant splat? Or small little pebbles? Is it floating? Is there undigested food? Is it light brown? Dark brown? Or a different colour?
These observations can be really important and, sometimes, could save your life.
What to Tell Your Doctor About
You’ll want to have a poop conversation with your doctor if you see:
- Blood or what looks like coffee grounds;
- Pale, white, or clay-coloured stool;
- A major change in your bowel habits, continual diarrhea, or urgency;
- Pain or any new or weird feeling during a bowel movement; or
- Severe constipation.
What is Your Poop Telling You?
Here are a few things to look for when you take a look down and check out how your digestive system is doing.
Small pebbles or formed but pebbly – You’re constipated, and your body needs more water, healthy fat, or both.
A giant splat – This could indicate a need for more fibre (like chia seeds) or that you’ve eaten a food your body doesn’t love, and it moved it out of your body quickly.
Log shaped – You’ve just had an award-winning poop. Congratulations!
Floats – Many poop experts warn that floating poop might be a problem, but I don’t agree. Usually, a floating poop just means there’s some trapped air (gas) or some undigested fat.
Greenish brown – Usually, this is due to a high-green veggie diet. Like, lots of spinach, chard, or green supplements. If it’s extra greenish, it could mean your food passed through you too quickly.
Brownish red – You’ve eaten beets. The colour of beets is so intense that it stains your stool and can even turn your urine a brownish-purple colour. But, if the red is in drips and looks like blood, that could mean your rectum is bleeding (so see your doctor).
All colours of brown – Your poop is the perfect colour and your digestion is probably working properly. Darker brown might mean a bit of constipation.
Ingredients for Great Poop
To make your digestive system happy and create gold-star poops, you just need a few important ingredients.
- Eat lots of veggies – This is a great source of prebiotic fibre, the food your gut bacteria love. It also provides roughage and bulk to form your poop.
- Add a serving of fermented foods – Fermented foods are like adding fertilizer to your gut bacteria. It’s an ingredient for a strong inner ecosystem.
- Sprinkle in a probiotic supplement – If your poop habits need some help, add a human-strain, multi-strain probiotic supplement to your day. You should feel a difference in about a month if it’s the right one for your gut.
- Stay hydrated – If your body is dehydrated, it will keep your poop in your colon for a long time so it can suck as much water as possible out of it, leaving small dry poops. Drink more water so your body doesn’t have to work so hard!
- Slather on some healthy fat – Dietary fat lubricates your colon and makes your poop easier to pass. Not enough fat is a common cause of constipation in healthy eaters.
By paying just a little bit of attention to your poop before you flush, you’ll get some important inside information about what’s going on in your gut. And, if you want to try something fun, start a conversation about poop with your family or friends, and watch them squirm!