What goes up, must come down and what goes in, must come out. How many times have you actually looked at your poop after you get off of the toilet?
Chances are it’s not very often. We just hit the handle and never give it a second thought as it flushes away.
What if your poop could give you a window into your health? Would you be willing to take a look?
Our bowels are vital organs that assimilate our dietary nutrients. The bacteria that live in the colon determines how well we process the nutrients found in food, not to mention the many benefits to immunity and overall health.
Taking a good look at your poop can tell you if you are digesting your food properly, in addition to the current state of the flora and fauna living inside of your bowels. Your digestive system will give you signals as to what’s going on inside your gut before outside symptoms manifest.
Do you see undigested food in your poop? What color is it? Is it soft, hard or sticky? Is there oil floating in it, or blood? While these questions may sound a little gross, they are all telling you a story of the health of your digestive system. Taking a look is the first step in assessing what’s going on and how to fix it.
How Digestion Works
The food we eat is broken down in our stomachs by digestive enzymes and then pushed into our digestive tract where the nutrients are extracted and shuttled into our bloodstreams for energy. The leftover waste is pushed through our bowels and ends up in the toilet.
If you have undigested food in your poop, then you may have a deficiency either with your stomach acid, digestive enzyme production or bile. The walls of your bowels are also a possible source of the reason you are passing undigested food, the walls may be scared or damaged, resulting them being unable to assimilate your food properly.
If you can’t absorb your food, then you can’t produce energy and your body will begin to lose weight, exposing you to disease. There are trillions, yes, literally trillions of live bacteria in your gut, going about their business of breaking down your food and sending it to your bloodstream. (1)
With today’s modern diet so far removed from the hunter-gatherer diets of our ancestors, there are a great deal more intestinal disorders and deficiencies that arise due to eating a nutrient-deficient Westernized diet. Inflamed bowels cause diarrhea and constipation which are a result of bowel disease. Rectifying the state of your gut bacteria should be the first priority with regards to restoring balanced digestive health.
Probiotics for Better Gut Health
So now we know the importance of good gut health and happy gut bacteria. Now let’s look at a few benefits of increasing the amount of good bacteria in your digestive system.
Taking a good probiotic supplement (2) and eating foods that promote probiotic growth, such as rich yogurt and papaya, will increase metabolism and stabilize your blood sugar as you absorb more nutrients. The hormone leptin is responsible for appetite control and is sensitive to blood sugar levels. By keeping them low, you prevent hunger pangs.
Gut bacteria keeps everything working efficiently and effectively. Keeping them happy and healthy will also keep your metabolism running optimally. When gut flora is balanced and functioning smoothly, your immune system will be in a better position to prevent and heal from disease. (3)
With your immune strengthened, you will experience the roll-over effect of reduced reaction to allergic stimulus. Probiotics aid in the permeability of the intestinal wall, preventing pro-inflammatory agents from accessing the bloodstream.
Inflammation from a poor diet and weak gut bacteria can manifest in different forms all over the body, and skin disorders are no different. Eczema and psoriasis can be terribly irritating skin diseases that seem to have no cure, but using the right strains of probiotics have been shown to improve skin condition and provide relief.
Want to feel happier? Studies suggest that probiotics can elevate mood. Doctor’s cannot confirm the link between good mood and good bacteria but it may have something to do with the nervous systems link to the GI tract.
What the Color of Your Poop Tells You About Your Gut Health
The horror of looking at your poop to find it is a color other than what you expect can be quite nerve wrecking. Most of the time our poop’s color is usually because of something we ate in our diet. There are other instances where it could be warning you of a deeper health issue.
Here are some answers to why your poop turns a funny color.
Bile is created by your liver to assist in the digestive process when it is secreted from the liver it has a brown-greenish color. As it works its way through the digestive tract, it undergoes chemical changes that alter the pigment, giving it a brown color.
This is the color of baby poop and those people that do not consume gluten in their diets. The only reason to be concerned with this color is if smells exceptionally bad or feels greasy. This could be a sign that you aren’t digesting your food properly. If it happens too often, go to your doctor.
Green poop is common in people that eat a lot of fibrous, green leafy veggies in their diet. It’s nothing to be worried about. Iron supplements can also turn your poop a greenish hue and if you have ever had greenish diarrhea, that’s from the bile moving through your system to quickly, coloring it green.
Various medications and digestive aids can cause your poop to become white and clumpy. If you haven’t taken any of those recently, it could mean that your liver is not producing enough bile in your system, or that you have the genetic disease biliary atresia. It could also be a sign of hepatitis infection or disease in the gallbladder. Whatever the reason, you can bet it’s not good, so get to the doctor right away.
Red or Black Poop
We left this one for last because it’s the color you don’t want to see. You can see dark poop occur from reasons such as strong red or purple food dyes. Eating a bunch of blueberries or beetroot is a sure-fire way to turn your poop black or red. That’s nothing to be alarmed about, and should turn back to its original brown with your next movement.
If you haven’t had these foods on the menu and you turn up with black poop, it could be from bleeding in the upper part of the digestive tract that’s caused by ulcers or tumors. If the poop is very red, it could be from hemerobiids, or polyps forming in the lower intestines. (4)
Why Is Fiber So Important?
Eating a diet fortified with fiber boosts your health. Fibre is never fully digested by the system and it sweeps out the GI tract of waste that could build up and cause disease or infection.
Soluble fiber sources that are found in berries and certain watery vegetables like cucumbers, dissolve into a gel like substance when digested. This mass then slows the digestive process and cleans you out as it moves along with your body’s natural peristaltic function.
Insoluble fiber sources come from foods such as psyllium husk, beans, dark leafy greens and squash. All of these foods are never digested totally, they form a mass of insoluble and soluble fibre that assist the body in eliminating waste quickly and efficiently.
Fibre keeps things moving, upping your daily intake of fibrous fruits and vegetables helps your body with digestion and prevents disease.
7 Health Benefits of Dietary Fiber
- Fiber can fool the mind and the intestinal tract into thinking it’s full, so it’s a great supplement to include in your fat loss diet. It also makes for a good addition to a fasted cleanse like the ‘Master Cleanse’. Take three teaspoons of Metamucil powder, or one teaspoon of psyllium husk in some water every morning.
- Fiber assists the body with heart health and stroke prevention with every seven grams of extra fiber consumed daily, stroke risk decreases by 7 percent.
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is an uncomfortable, unpleasant disorder to suffer with. Using fiber regularly will provide some relief.
- Fiber helps your body with regulating blood sugar. This helps out your kidneys and gall bladder, reducing the risk to stone formation.
- The inflammation of polyps in your intestine is a condition known as diverticulitis. Using insoluble fiber daily can greatly reduce your risk to the disease.
- Fiber removes fungus from your gut that may attract yeast infections, candida and even manifest as skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.
- Lower risk of hemorrhoids showing up from a diet that’s low in fiber.
The Golden Ratio
So, how much fiber do you need in a day? For women, aim for 25 grams. For men, aim for 35-40 grams. Remember, fiber is practically calorie free. It’s just roughage that sweeps everything out the back door for you, so there’s no need to count it in your macros. (6)
Tips to Get You in the Bathroom Fast
Constipation isn’t healthy and it can be incredibly uncomfortable. The King himself, Elvis Presley, died on the toilet while straining from constipation.
Presley had taken a barium x-ray in the months leading up to his death. The fluid that was given to him for the x-ray never left his colon. Instead, it solidified into a clay-like mass that enlarged it to a point where it cost the King his life. (7)
This may be an outlandish story, but it serves to show the importance of a healthy digestive system, the best way to keep your gut healthy, teeming with good bacteria and assimilating food at maximum rates is to eat a healthy, clean diet that prevents inflammation in the bowels and body.
Some good ideas for foods that promote good intestinal and get health include:
- Monounsaturated fats
- Whole grains
- Dark leafy vegetables
- Dietary supplements like Metamucil that are high in soluble fiber
When You Have To Go
For those that need to have that moving movement before they leave the house, try to provoke the ‘gastrocolic reflex’. This is the signal to your body to evacuate the bowels as quickly as possible.
When you rise, drink a large glass of water. Go about brushing your teeth and then have a large cup of strong coffee. Chlorogenic and neochlorogenic acid are the culprits of this neat trick and it’s a must for anyone short on time that doesn’t enjoy pooping outside of their own home.
The Final Word
Your poop can tell you a lot about your health, but you need to pay attention to it first. Take this advice and have an informed inspection next time you get up from your morning ritual. You never know what you might find.