JESS CAMPBELL

Nutritionist. Medical Student. Nigella Fangirl. Bookshelf elf. Tiramisu Connoisseur. Diet Non-conformist.

What does your poo say about you?

It’s an uncomfortable topic for many; but the happenings ‘down-below’ are not to be ignored!

Bowel health is important for several reasons – not only do we feel a bit sh*tty when things aren’t running well… it also turns out our gut is home to 80% of our serotonin (our feel good, anti-anxiety, “happy hormone”) meaning maintaining a healthy gut should be priority.

Changes in bowel movements can also be a sign of changes to our health – a great reason to get to know what is normal for you and to seek advice from your GP if things change.

“It’s important that you know what’s ‘normal’ for you, and if you notice any persistent changes it’s always best to seek medical advice.”

First things first…. lets talk about how often you do your number two’s. Many people wrongly believe you need to be moving your bowels daily to be considered healthy. As with all aspects of health, nutrition and wellness there is no one size fits all approach. 
 
What’s considered “regular”?
 

Pooping daily (up to a maximum of 3 times) and as few as 3 poo’s a week are all toilet timetables considered within a normal range. 

It’s important that you know how often is normal for you, and if you notice any persistent changes it’s always best to seek advice from your doctor.

 
Other signs or symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, feeling a lump in your tummy, blood in your stool or persisting changes in texture or colour (e.g black poo) – whilst common they are also worth exploring with your doctor.
 
What should “it” look like?
 

The perfect poo should be a formed brown stool, not too firm, not too loose and passed easily.

If you are pooping less than every 3 days (at the very least), or struggle and strain when passing a stool you are likely suffering constipation – which is most often caused by inadequate fibre and fluids.

 

What can you do to promote a regular healthy bowel movement?

Eat more fibre. I harp on about your green leafy vegetable intake all the time because they truly are natures super food and your bums best friend! Fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, beans, wholegrain breads and grains, bran, psyllium are all great sources of fibre. Fibre will increase the bulk in your intestine and reduce transit time (ie. how long it takes a poo to travel your intestine) which has been shown to reduce the risk of some types of cancers and other bowel disorders. High fibre diets have also been shown to maintain heart health and lower cholesterol levels.

Watch your meat portions. Excessive meat intake coupled with a highly processed diet won’t promote a healthy poo.

Drink more. Water is best. Other options include, tea, green tea, herbal tea. Flavour your water with lemon, mint, orange or other fruit slices. If you just can’t say no to fizzys opt for soda water with a squeeze of lemon juice. Enough fluid combined with plenty of fibre results in a larger food mass and the stretching effect it has on your gut helps food to be propelled down the intestine properly.

Reduce your stress – If you can’t reduce or eliminate your source of stress than make sure you’ve got strategies to cope with it. Have you tried diaphragmatic breathing yet? Its pretty amazing the effect proper breathing and oxygen in all the right places can have on your stress levels!

Please, don’t rely on laxatives. Improper use can make constipation worse.

If you have irritable bowel syndrome, celiacs, chron’s or ulcerative colitis you should work with a nutritionist or dietitian to eliminate or reduce your intake of certain foods. For some this may be gluten containing foods, dairy, or perhaps FODMAPs.

Check out the infographic below, re-post via Unity Point Health Clinics.

Things a bit rumbly, grumbly or gurgley down below?