Tuesday, 27 August 2013

What does your poo (stool) tell about your health?

This sounds like a “dirty” topic.  But as a naturopath, I always ask about bowel movement and stool consistency.  Your poo tells a lot about your health.

First there is the type of poo.  Watch the video to see what I say about pebbles and watery mush.

If you are constipated, you will find it hard to pass the stool, you may strain or feel some pain.  Always look at your stool, to observe the colour, the texture and the smell.  I’m not saying that it should smell good, but it should not be highly offensive.  It should smell quite “benign”.  Highly offensive, bad odour could indicate that there is a malabsorption disorder.  Rotting food at body temperature not only gives a bad odour, it can also create a lot of gas.  Flatulence or passing of gas is a normal phenomenon, up to 14 times for men and up to 7 times for women. 

Offensive odour of stool can also indicate Celiacs or Crohn’s disease.  These inflammatory conditions in the gastrointestinal tract not only cause bad odour in the poo, the stool can be mushy and watery, and the person may complain of fatigue.

If you have not been eating beetroot or red beets, your poo should not be red.  Red poo other than eating beets or coloured foods, can indicate some form of bleeding in the bowels and needs to be checked out.  If it is higher in the gastrointestinal tract, it may be darker or even black. Never be complacent with red or black stool if you have more than one or two of them.

On the other hand, poo that lacks colour – i.e. white, grey or looks faded can indicate problems in the bile duct, liver, gallbladder or pancreas. 

A normal bowel movement should be at least once a day, brown coloured stool that is well formed like sausage but not hard, and should not have any offensive, bad odour.  After the movement, you should feel that the bowels have been “emptied out” and feel complete.  It should not feel like there is still stuff stuck within.

I sometimes see in clinic patients who have lost the ability to poo normally and are dependent on enemas or colonics to poo.  Whilst this is a relief, it can be a bandaid to a more serious problem.  Adults need 35g of fibre a day.  A lack of fibre is a major cause of constipation.  Rather than relying on stimulants like enemas or laxatives, it is important to make sure that fibre intake is sufficient.  Green Fibre Blend is a combination of soluble and insoluble fibre that can help increase fibre intake if you believe you are lacking fibre in your diet. A blend of soluble and insoluble fibre in Green Fibre Blend acts as a fibre adaptogen, i.e. if you have not eaten enough fibre, it bulks it up, on the other hand if you have loose stool, it helps to bind it.  Fruits and vegetables provide fibre to move the bowels and plant based nutrients (phytonutrients) that has many different benefits to our bodies.

A good probiotic can help to balance the good and bad bacteria in the bowels and can be a big help to constipation or diarrhea.  You should always investigate the real cause of your constipation or diarrhea.  I have to emphasize a good probiotic as there are many different types out there, and some do not have numbers for therapeutic benefits, or some have not been manufactured or handled properly and many of the probiotics are dead.

Emotional stress, busy time lines causing us to ignore the urge to defacate, excessive use of laxatives or dependency on enemas or colonics are common reasons why people can have problems moving their bowels.  Whilst recycling is a great virtue, recycling stored toxins in the bowels should be avoided at all times!

If bowel movements, the lack of or excessively moving your bowels bother you or you often suffer from gut pain or have discoloured stool, you should investigate the causes with your qualified health care professional and deal with the source of the problem, not putting a bandaid over it to mask the situation (the common bandaid used here is often a laxative or enema!)

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