Yes, serious question! (C'mon, admit it, you're curious too whether your poop is normal or not right?)
Your poop can say a lot about your physical, and sometimes even your emotional, health. And if you are looking to lose weight and find yourself struggling even though you think you are doing EVERYTHING you should, the answer might be in your poop!
You may get constipation or have diarrhea when you eat something that "doesn't agree with you," or when you're super-nervous about something.
And what about fibre and water? If you’re not getting enough, it’ll probably show in your poop. You just need to know what to look for (don't worry, you get over the grossness of this eventually!)
What about those all-important gut microbes? Well if they're not in balance, this will probably show up in your poop too!
Did you know there is an “official” standard for poop? I mean a university-created chart! One that is used to help diagnose conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)? Well let me introduce you.....
Meet the Bristol Stool Scale
The Bristol Stool Scale was created at the prestigious University of Bristol in the UK back in 1997.
You can see the chart here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bristol_stool_scale
The scale breaks down type of poop into seven different categories ranging from type 1 which is very constipated, to type 7 which is diarrhea:
1 - Separate hard lumps (very constipated).
2 - Lumpy and sausage-like (slightly constipated).
3 - Sausage shaped with cracks in the surface (normal)
4 - Smooth, soft sausage (normal).
5 - Soft blobs with clear-cut edges (lacking fiber).
6 - Mushy consistency with ragged edges (inflammation).
7 - Liquid consistency with no solid pieces (inflammation).
Now it's not just the shape of your poo that matters. Frequency matters too!
Think about how often you go. At least once per day, up to 3 times per day is pretty good. Less than one, or more than three can mean there is something going wrong in either direction.
What about how hard you have to push when it's time to go? You want it to be as effortless as possible but if that's not the case, what does this mean?
And the colour? What is considered to be a healthy colour? Or an unhealthy colour?
Well, ideally It should be a nutty shade of brown which comes from the bile that you need to break down the fats that you eat.
And if it’s green or red, but you know you have ingested a significant amount of dark, green cruciferous vegetables or beetroot, then this is normal and no need to panic.
Now if you see an abnormal colour, like red or even black, that you can't explain based on what you ate or drank in the last day or two, you probably want to get that checked out.
So what is the next step once you realise your poo isn't looking very healthy?
Well, the first thing to consider is how imperfect it is, and how often it is like that. Once in a while, things aren't going to be perfect, and that's OK but if your poo looks abnormal more often than not, then better to be safe than sorry and seek help from a health professional.
Sometimes, you may already know the answer and it's an easy fix.
If you know you need to get more fibre or water, then try increasing that.
If you haven’t had enough probiotic foods, then try getting more of them.
If you’re super-stressed, then try deep breathing, meditating, or having a warm bath as this will help to ease constipation.
Oh, and don’t forget the most basic pieces of advice:
● First, eat a variety of nutrient-dense, minimally processed foods, including a lot of fruits & veggies (and their “fibrous” skins, wherever possible). The fibre in these is not only helpful for pushing food through your gut, but they also feed those millions of amazing helpful critters that live there (your friendly gut microbes.)
● The second piece of advice is to eat slowly, and mindfully, chewing thoroughly. This helps to get digestion off to a strong start.
● Practice stress management on a regular basis as stress will wreak havoc on the digestive system more than you realise. Deep breathing techniques, guided meditation, yoga, gratitude practices and warm, lavender oil baths are all great ways to take a load off both your mind and your gut.
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