Is my poop normal? I get asked this all the time, seriously I do.
You already know that your poop can reflect your physical, and sometimes even emotional, health right? I’ve talked about this in a previous post here.
You might find that you get constipation or have diarrhea when you eat something that “doesn’t agree with you,” or when you’re super-nervous about something, or worse still, when your travelling!
And what about fibre and water? If you’re not getting enough, it’ll probably show in your poop.
What about the all-important gut microbes? If they’re not happy, that will likely show in your poop too.
And, if your not pooping EVERY DAY your hormones and toxins will start to recirculate instead of being flushed out of your system, leading to toxic build up – yuck!
So here’s a trivia question for you:
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)?
The Bristol Stool Scale was created at the prestigious University of Bristol in the UK back in 1997 (and being half British I’m quite proud of it strangely enough)
You can see the chart below by clicking on the link
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 fibre).
6 – Mushy consistency with ragged edges (inflammation).
7 – Liquid consistency with no solid pieces (inflammation).
Other “poop” factors to consider
You probably already guessed that the shapes described in the Bristol Stool Scale are not the only thing to consider for poop health.
Think about how often you go. At least once per day? up to 3 times per day? that’s pretty good. Less than one, or more than three can means there is something going on that shouldn’t be ignored.
What about how much effort it takes to go? You want it to be as effortless as possible, if your straining that can be a big issue.
And the colour? What colour “should” it be? It should be brown from the bile that you need to break down the fats you ingest.
If it’s green after a day of massive veggies, or red after that large glass of beet juice, you’re just fine.
But 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 sooner rather than later.
So what do you do when you have “imperfect” poo?
Well, the first thing to consider is how imperfect is it? and how often it is like that? Once in a while, things aren’t going to be perfect, and that’s OK.
If you know you need to get more fibre or water into your diet, then try increasing that, gradually if you have to.
If you haven’t had enough probiotic foods, then try getting more of them. Try adding kimchi or sauerkraut to your meals.
If you’re super-stressed, then try deep breathing, meditating, or having a warm bath with epsom salts to relax you.
Oh, and don’t forget the three most basic pieces of nutrition/holisitic 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 and don’t drink whilst your eating, particularly cold drinks. If your chewing your food properly you shouldn’t need to add in more liquid.
- Invest in a squatty potty (or similar) to elevate your knees. This allows the colon to fully open and eliminate the contents. Squatting relaxes the rectum, allowing the anorectal angle to straighten and the bowel to empty completely.
These are good habits for anyone and everyone, even when you have perfect poop!
Of course, long-term issues might require a more thorough review with a qualified health care practitioner. Don’t suffer from poop issues for too long before seeking help.
Recipe (dairy-free probiotic): Super-Simple Coconut Milk Yogurt
2 cans full-fat coconut milk
2 probiotic capsules (I suggest Natren’s Healthy Trinity or Healthy Start system),
- Empty the cans of coconut milk into a glass bowl. Open up the probiotic capsules and very carefully mix them into the coconut milk (good quality probiotics are very sensitive and need to be treated delicately when out of their capsules.
- Transfer to a sanitized glass jar (make sure it’s not still hot – you don’t want those probiotics to die).
- Store it in a warm place for 24-48 hours. If it’s not thick enough for you, you can let it ferment for another 24 hours.
- Add your favourite yogurt toppings, and store the rest for up to a week in the fridge.
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: Fermenting food is not an exact science. If this doesn’t work out as you’d like it to, try different brands of coconut milk and/or probiotics.