What goes in must come out. What happens in between? What does your poop have to tell you?
The human digestive system is a complex group of individual organs that work together to breakdown food, process nutrients, and eliminate waste from the body. When one part of the system fails to function properly, the whole system suffers. Individuals are often eager to share their recipes and food choices these days. However, it is just as often that talking about the waste we expel is a “hush-hush” topic. There is so much that your body can tell you if you pay close attention. The regularity, consistency, color, and even the smell of your bowel movements can do the same.
Poop. Bowel Movements. Stool. Feces. The notorious number 2. However, you call it, it is in fact the eliminated waste from our bodies. With a properly working digestive system, you should poop once a day or at the very least once every other day. If you find yourself going number 2 multiple times a day or with more than 2 days in between that particular bathroom trip, your digestive system may need a tune-up. The Bristol Stool Cart was established to help individuals recognize the difference between their current bowel habits and a normal functioning bowel. (see chart below)
Normal bowel function should be timely, efficient, and free of pain. If you are experiencing pain with any stage of digestion from acid reflux to stomach pain, intestinal pain, or discomfort with bowel movements, several things should be considered. One option that many of our patients will often need are digestive enzymes. The body uses various hormones and enzymes in conjunction with the circulatory system to properly break down food and then distribute both the nutrients and the waste throughout. When you are lacking the necessary digestive enzymes this process becomes disrupted.
Humans are omnivores, but regardless of our ability to chew and digest both meat and plant-based foods, meat can take a longer time to be properly broken down by the body’s digestive system. It is important to eat a clean, healthy diet to ensure the digestive system can do its job. Putting foods high in sugar and fats can also wreak havoc on your digestion.
So, what about the color? Feces comes in all shapes, sizes, and color, but what can it tell you?
Green may indicate your food was processed too quickly.
Yellow can tell you that your body is having trouble processing fats.
Black can be due to taking an iron supplement but can also indicate internal bleeding.
White suggests you have a bile obstruction.
Red may be probably if your diet had an abundance of berries or beets but if that wasn’t your recent food of choice, it may be the presence of blood.
Pooping regularly is important. If you are experiencing pain or straining to pass a bowel movement that is a clear indicator you are constipated. Drinking more clear fluids can often help. If you find yourself on the other end of the spectrum experiencing diarrhea or pooping too frequently, this may indicate a food intolerance or a number of other conditions such as a leaky gut or ulcerative colitis.
It is important to eat a diet rich in fiber, fruits, and vegetables. Drinking plenty of water is essential to keeping everything moving as well. Maintaining your probiotics and looking after your liver are also important factors to a properly functioning digestive system. Getting plenty of rest will help your body recharge and manage stress along with digestion. Do not forget to move. Your body as a whole and your bowel will thank you if you regularly exercise.
You should avoid alcohol and caffeine as these can cause dehydration and slow down the bowels. Harsh laxatives are never the answer to constipation. Instead, improve your diet and up your daily water intake. Sugar is a major disruptor to the digestive system as it can slow down digestion and destroy healthy bacteria in the gut.
Now that you know the good and bad, how is your system doing? Take a look at the Bristol Stool Chart and your diet to evaluate the health of your digestive system, then give Dr. Lisa a call to see how she can help you!