Poop. It's not the most popular discussion point, and many can be self conscious about their poop odor and consistency. While I understand the embarrassing nature of the topic, I invite you to get familiar with your bowel movements and the effects of the foods, drinks and chemicals you use on them. Your poop is your digestive report card.
I remember the days when I would have 3-5 bowel movements before leaving for work in the morning. If I ate the wrong foods, or too much of anything, I would have to be near a bathroom. Of course, that was a time in my life where I was the most angry, stressed, and exhausted chronically.
I've mentioned in previous blogs the importance of proper digestion for mood, energy and focus. If those are all important to you, and you don't pay attention to your poop, then this article is for you!
In this blog, we'll dive into the details of bowel movements and why they're so important to gut health, and give you 5 tips on how to improve your movements.
Bowel movements, also known as stools or feces, are the waste products that are eliminated from the body through the rectum and anus. These waste products consist of undigested food, water, and other substances that the body cannot use.
The process of bowel movement begins when food is broken down in the stomach and small intestine. The nutrients from the food are absorbed by the body, while the waste products are sent to the large intestine or colon. The colon absorbs water and electrolytes from the waste products, which then form into solid feces. The feces are stored in the rectum until they are eliminated through the anus during a bowel movement.
Why are bowel movements important for gut health?
Bowel movements play a critical role in maintaining gut health. When the body is unable to eliminate waste products efficiently, it can lead to a buildup of toxins and harmful bacteria in the colon. This can cause inflammation and damage to the intestinal lining, leading to various digestive problems such as constipation, diarrhea, bloating, leaky gut, brain fog, low energy, poor mood and abdominal pain.
In addition to eliminating waste products, bowel movements also help to regulate the balance of beneficial bacteria in the gut. The gut microbiome is a collection of trillions of bacteria that live in the intestines. These bacteria play a crucial role in maintaining gut health, aiding in digestion, and supporting the immune system. A healthy bowel movement can help ensure that the gut microbiome remains balanced and functioning optimally.
What do healthy poops look like? You should be moving your poo at consistent times every day. They should be firm, floating, light brown and approx 10-14" of total poo eliminated daily. You shouldn't see bits of whole food like corn or nuts, if you do, this means you could have an intolerance or that you need to chew your food better, 1-2 movements daily is normal. While no poo smells good, an overly offensive odor, especially when combined with gas is a sure sign of distress from toxins, intolerances, overeating, or excess stress.
How to maintain healthy bowel habits?
Maintaining healthy bowel habits is essential for promoting gut health. Here are some tips to help you keep your bowel movements regular and healthy:
Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water can help keep stool soft and easy to pass.
Know how your body responds to what you put in it. Keep a poop journal, yes, that is a thing. Simply record the time of day of your poo, description, mood, energy, and foods you ate. If the problem persists, you can add stressors and chemicals you use like cleaners, makeup and RX or OTC drugs to the log. The more you can keep track of, the better, but don't overwhelm yourself right off the bat. Supplementation may be necessary.
Exercise regularly: Regular exercise can help promote bowel regularity by increasing blood flow to the intestines. Since exercise provides physiological stress to the body, be mindful to not overdo it. Work in some stretching, walking or yin yoga to your movement routine, we call these work in exercises at the CHEK Institute, as they are the remedy for excess working out. This will ensure that your parasympathetic nervous system is in balance, and that's the branch of our nervous system that is responsible for digestion.
Manage stress: Excess stress keeps us out of our parasympathetic nervous system, and greatly interferes with digestion. Get adequate sleep, go organic, and incorporating a deep diaphragmatic breathing practice daily will help your digestion immensely. Try doing 5 rounds of 5x5 box breathing before and after each meal, and stay off of social media and television. (5x5 box breath=5 count inhale+5 count hold+5 count exhale+another 5 count hold). A regular meditation practice is also highly recommended. Your personality is a large factor in this, but there isn't any personality that cannot find ways to reduce or eliminate excess stress in life. We can help you source and reverse any personality related stressors if you are in need of support.
Avoid processed foods: Processed foods and high-fat diets can slow down bowel movements, leading to constipation and other digestive problems. To combat physiological stress from processed foods, RX and OTC drugs, a household detox and body detox is highly recommended. Household detox would include tossing out all toxic household cleaners and medications possible, and replacing with organic or essential oils based products. A body cleanse would include an elimination diet like carnivore, or low fodmap, depending on whether or not you are the type that needs fiber in your diet. (the evidence is far from objective and clear on fiber. I have found it to be an individual consideration that comes with some experimentation)
In conclusion, bowel movements play a vital role in maintaining gut health. Understanding the importance of healthy bowel habits and taking steps to promote regular bowel movements can help prevent digestive problems and maintain overall health. Remember to listen to your body and seek medical attention if you experience any persistent changes in bowel habits.
Peace, Much Love, Live Well!