"Poop is a treasure trove of information about what is going on inside your body". It's also a major taboo topic for some women, not wanting to talk or share or hear about it. So naturally we included it and all it's uncomfortable-ness in our podcast lineup. A bowel movement should be happening at least once per day without any major event, symptoms or irregularity- and if these things are going on for you, all the more reason to listen to episode 11 to get a bit of insight into what is going on in your body.
We know some women who try to hide the fact that they poop from their spouse, partner, friends and family. And part of this is so understandable because it's a stinky thing that happens- there just shouldn't be shame wrapped up in pooping, although unfortunately there often is.
The magic frequency for pooping is one time a day. This amount allows you to eliminate waste on a regular basis and give your digestive track a rest. Pooping more than 3 times a day with runny stool means that some other issue is at play making your body want to evacuate so often. The magic duration pushing out a poop should take is one minute. That might seem like a really quick time and put a bit of pressure on you, but its true- well formed stool that finds it's way out efficiently should only take a minute to expel from your body. When it takes longer than that, it could be a sign of constipation- which is a sign of another underlying issue too. We will explain...
Something called the Bristol Stool Chart will provide some classification to your poop and what it means.
Type 1 is separate and hard lumps that look kind of like big rabbit turds. This is a sign of sever constipation. You may have had a lot of straining with this movement, or it may have been several days since your last poop. Definitely something you'll want to fix, and we get into that later.
Type 2 is lumpy and sausage like but still one solid form. This is a sign of mild constipation and can be normal from time to time when we are eating foods that are different for us, or get dehydrated. Sometimes stress can cause constipation as well.
Type 3 is a sausage shape with cracks on the surface and this is normal.
Type 4 is a smooth and soft sausage shape that looks more like a snake because it's lacking cracks and this is also normal.
Type 5 is soft blobs with clear-cut edges and this can mean your diet is lacking fiber.
Type 6 is mushy in consistency with ragged edges and this means you have mild diarrhea.
Type 7 is liquid consistency with no solid pieces and this is a sign of severe diarrhea. Some women experience diarrhea with every bowel movement and this is a symptom of some kind of more serious digestive issue at play. We will share what to do about all this in a bit.
Let's talk about the color of your poop next. (isn't this fun? haha)... Brown or green colored stool is normal. Green sometimes means you have undigested plant matter in your poop but green poop all the time might be an indication that your food hasn't fully broken down properly before being expelled. Red could mean bleeding in your large intestines or rectum, which in small amounts is usually fine because your body can heal these little cuts or abrasions just fine. When the poop is black and sticky like tar, that would be an indicator that there was bleeding in the upper digestive tract and this would in fact be a concerning thing and a call into your primary care provider would be warranted. Light colored stool like white or tan could be a side effect from medications, poor nutrient absorption, too much fat in the diet or a plugged bile duct- so pay attention to these color stools.
Wonder if there is anything your poop is trying to tell you by being a sinker or a floater? The ideal is poop that sinks because floating slick and greasy poop could mean that you have some underlying autoimmune or gallbladder problems.
What does all this mean and what if your poops aren't ideal? Our very first thought is usually that the microbiome in your gut is off balance. So many factors of our modern lifestyle kill the good bacteria in our gut and we need this bacteria to have a healthy digestive system. Other symptoms of this unbalance are incomplete bowel movements, gluten intolerance, loose stool, undigested food in your stool, straining with constipation or having a bowel movement less than once per day. Some indicators that your underlying issue is a thyroid disorder could be sluggish bowels or infrequent movements. Stress is a big cause of the widely diagnosed Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
What causes so many things to go wrong so easily? Some theories include the herbicides (chemicals) residue on our non-organic foods, flame retardant on almost every commercial fabric, diets high in sugar, badly processed fats and vitamin deficiencies. If you have a lot of gas you may benefit from a B12 supplement. Adding fiber, foods high in vitamin a, iron and zinc can also help.
We recommend eating organic whenever possible, keeping a variety of nuts and seeds in your diet, experimenting with nutritional yeast and developing a taste and habit for fermented foods.
Constipation is on the rise due to our lifestyle diets high in sugar and low in fiber. A lack of regular movement and exercise seems to be a contributor as well. You can self-stimulate the bowel when you are struggling to poop by squeezing a releasing the anal sphincter muscle several times. Some of our other tips for working with constipation is to not put off the urge to go when it comes, poop right away. Squatting on the actual toilet seat or using a squatty potty stool when you go can help open up the rectum and provide a physiologically supportive way to empty the bowels. You can look up the I L U massage technique for stimulating your lower digestive tract, as well as increasing fiber, decreasing difficult to digest protein sources and drinking half your body weigh in ounces each day. We love magnesium citrate to move the occasional constipation along and recommend everyone take a probiotic each day. A couple other tried and true methods for getting stubborn stool moving are prune juice, dried prune fruit, flax seed, oatmeal and psyllium husk fiber.
Diarrhea on the other hand is usually a bit more cause for concern because outside of acute illness it can dehydrate and deplete your necessary minerals pretty quickly when chronic. You'll want to get to the root cause of why your body is wanting to evacuate so much so quickly. Your digestive system can get very irritated and inflamed from this digestive issue when it's ongoing. Some of the dietary causes can be reactions to soy, dairy, corn, nightshades and overeating nuts. Sometimes there depression, anxiety and acne related to these dietary intolerances as well so it's something to pay attention to closely. It might be helpful to eliminate these foods until you figure out what is causing the diarrhea- often adding to the problem but not directly causing it are grains, legumes, gluten and alcohol. It may be wise to put a pause on these foods for a bit also while you try to isolate the actual trigger.
Overall you want to notice what your poop is trying to tell you. When you feel that there is more than the rare weird poop, take note of what you are experiencing and noticing so that as you start to tackle what may be causing it you have a diary or journal to look back on for help on what may be working. Some general ideas for everyone is eating as clean of foods as possible, taking in probiotic foods each day, getting plenty of water and know when to get some extra expertise and help on board. We are 2 people who definitely won't mind you contacting us about your poop problems so feel free to reach out if you have questions or could use a little extra help troubleshooting.