Let’s chat about your bowel movements.

I know, I know, I know.

You don’t want to talk about your bowel movements but hear me out. They’re so important!

Our bowel movements hold valuable clues to our overall health. But these signs are often ignored because most of us are a bit uncomfortable talking about them – even to our healthcare providers. Let’s get over that right now.

First thing’s first: going only twice a week is not quite enough. If you have hormonal imbalances, one of the first things we do is get your bowels moving, because your hormones are detoxified through the intestine.

I want to really get to the bottom of your health issues (no pun intended), and sometimes that means talking about the “unmentionable” topics. So, if you have a concern, please don’t hesitate to bring it up. It’s my job to listen and figure out what’s going on.

Your Poop is a Reflection of Your Health

The appearance and smell of your poop is a direct reflection of your overall health as well as any inflammation your gut is experiencing, as your digestive system connects intricately with your nervous system and detox pathways. Don’t forget, everything is connected in your body, and your gut is the centre of everything. Changes in your bowel habits can indicate changes in other parts of your body – from excess stress, to liver problems, to cancer.

The good news is that we don’t have to go into great detail describing the various types of bowel movements and what they signify. There’s already a chart that shows various problems and what to look for called the Bristol Stool Chart  (http://cdn.intechopen.com/pdfs-wm/46082.pdf) after the hospital that developed it in 1997.

What The Bristol Stool Chart Looks At

  • Smell
  • Colour
  • Frequency
  • Ease
  • Completion
  • Red flags

What The Bristol Stool Chart Means for You

To summarize the Bristol Stool Chart, your stools should be a daily event that is well-formed medium brown and not too smelly. If you see blood or mucus, or if you feel that anything about your stool doesn’t seem ideal, you should talk to your family doctor to address or rule out any issues requiring medical help.

How to Improve Your Bowel Movements

If you’ve ruled out a medical condition, but still feel that things are not moving quite like they should be, a few simple steps can improve your bowel movements.Pay attention to your diet. 2. Choose medications carefully.  

1. Pay attention to your diet.

This one seems like a no-brainer, but hear me out. Fibre helps keeps things moving by adding some bulk to your stool – think seeds, whole grains, beans, fresh fruits and vegetables. And more vegetables. If you’re not used to a high-fibre diet, increase your intake slowly to avoid upsetting your stomach, and always make sure to up your water intake alongside it. In addition, make sure you’re eating enough healthy fats from sources such as avocados, nuts, and olive oil. All these things help you go.

Pay close attention to how particular foods affect your digestion. If you experience diarrhea or constipation, try keeping a diary of what you eat, and the symptoms you experience. We can help you set up an effective tracking system to monitor your diet if you need a little help with that. Or, we can test for food sensitivities. Your call.

2. Choose medications carefully.  

Many medications can cause constipation, so it is important to be aware and adjust your diet accordingly. Avoid laxative medications as much as possible, as your body quickly becomes dependent on them, and some evidence links their use to colorectal cancer. Talk with your integrative medical practitioner about natural solutions to constipation cause by medications if diet alone isn’t enough. There’s a lot we can do for you in this area.

3. Stay hydrated.

Aim for the proverbial eight cups of water a day, or a bit more. Whatever helps you It’s particularly important to get adequate water if you’ve recently increased your fibre intake. Not only are our stools 75 percent water, but the bowel muscles need plenty of hydration to work their best.

4. Increase your movement.

Exercise stimulates your digestion. Studies suggest that digestion is better if you exercise regularly and, if possible, at the same time of the day.

In fact, sitting for too long overall can lead to constipation regardless of other exercise, another argument for working at a standing desk for part of the day. And, on a similar note, pay attention to how your body moves. Pro tip: some yoga poses are designed to assist with digestion.

5. Develop a routine and don’t fight the urge.

If you feel like you gotta go, don’t ignore that feeling! Fighting the urge to poop can lead to constipation. Setting aside a specific time of the day can help you stay regular. I know it feels embarrassing to be the one in the work bathroom. I’ve been there. It’s not fun. Time to get over it for your own health’s sake. Stake out the perfect time to go where you will be least likely to be discovered in the bathroom if you need to.

6. Change positions.

As well, consider the way you sit on the toilet. Over the course of history, toilets themselves are a pretty recent invention. That means that we evolved pooping from a squatting position. Many people find that bringing their feet up onto a stool can help bring them into a squatting position which makes bowel movements easier. There are commercial products out there for this purpose.

7. Talk openly.

Don’t hesitate to come into the office and have an open talk if you have any concerns or questions about your bowel movements. Your stool can be a good indicator that your body has something going on that needs attention, and it’s always better to bring up a concern than to worry about it!

Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25223576

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/may/18/truth-about-poo-doing-it-wrong-giulia-enders-squatting

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15043514