We need to talk about poop.
Did you know that your poop holds a lot of information about your health and how your body is functioning? It is an indicator of health in a lot of ways.
We are not taught enough about how important our poops are and we certainly don’t talk about it enough (unless you work with me of course;)).
Our poop quality, quantity, frequency, form, shape, smell, color and feel tall us a lot about our health. Our poops and the health of our colon relate to our mental health, our immune health, our energy, hormones (both sex hormones and thyroid hormones), and more.
Poop is one of the 3 most important places to focus on when dealing with any and all health issues or goals. Weather you are dealing with cancer, sleep problems, mental health issues, autoimmune problems, energy needs, body aches, skin issues, menopause, headaches, etc – your poop needs to be addressed.
Want to know what the other 2 areas to address are no matter what your health issues or goals are? Poop, Sleep, and Blood Sugar. More on those to come.
For now, check out the Bristol Stool Chart here to help you begin to understand your poops. That’s right, every time you poop have a look. Record it even. Start noticing what impacts it. We are shooting for type 4.
So what are we looking for exactly?
- If there are any undigested food particles in it
- How easy is it to wipe? Is it greasy? Sticky?
- Does it feel like you fully evacuated it all?
- How does it smell?
We want to poop every day, have it come out easily, with form, no undigested food particles, it should break off pretty easily, wipe easily, and feel like you got everything out. It should feel good and not take much time at all.
If you are NOT having these poops regularly, it is time to get curious and see what your body is telling you.
Here are a few things your poop might be telling you (this is not meant to treat or diagnose or substitute one on one medical care but instead is meant to educate. Consult your physician with any medical questions or concerns)-
Color- Bilirubin is made from the breakdown of red blood cells and flows with bile, from the liver, to the gallbladder, and into the small intestine to be eliminated with your poop. It is what colors your poop brown! If your poop is cream colored it might mean you have a liver/gallbladder issue. Yellow poop might mean you have absorption problems. Green is usually okay and often happens when people introduce a greens powder. Black might mean you have blood up high in your small intestine while red might mean you have bleeding lower down in your large intestine. Sometimes supplements color our poop too.
Texture– Consult your bristol stool chart. We are aiming for soft poop but with a solid form, might even be C shaped. If it is rock or pebble shaped you are probably constipated and need to work on softening it up with liquids and fiber. If your poop does not have a shape you have diarrhea and might need to investigate inflammation, poor digestion, food sensitivities, fake sugar consumption (or sugar alcohols), or more. If your poop is fluffy, with small soft pieces you may have a hard time digesting fats.
Smell– Does your poop smell? The bacteria in our large intestine and what we feed it creates and changes the way our poop smells.
Float– This might mean there is gas trapped in your poop. Are you gassy too? You might need support with digestive enzymes or rebalancing your gut microbiome.
Food- If there is undigested food in your stool it might mean that you need to chew more, need more digestive enzymes, or more stomach acid. Start by chewing more and breathing before you eat. Seriously! It’s magic. I love using digestive bitters as well as a gentle way to boost digestive juices. No matter what you are eating if you are not digesting at and absorbing it you cannot use those nutrients as precursors to your other body systems.
Oily, or messy wiping, or sticking together (not a clean break)- This might mean you are having a hard time digesting fats. Some people need to consider some liver/gall bladder support, bitters, enzymes, or ox bile. Do you have your gallbladder? Track when this happens and what you might be eating that relates.
Transit Time and Frequency- How often are you pooping? This is really important. We want to poop 1-2 times a day every single day. After our liver detoxes substances such as hormones, toxins, etc they are sent out with our bile to our poop. We want them leaving our body in a timely manner. If you are not pooping 1-2 times and have slow moving bowels you might want to look into how your thyroid is functioning, food sensitivities, your microbiome diversity, and your water intake. If you are rushing to the bathroom in an emergency and having watery poops that is also something to get curious around. Do you have anxiety? Food sensitivities? Maybe lacking proper digestive juices? Get curious and track what you are eating and when you are pooping.
So start being curious about your poop. Our gut health and our microbiome influence all of our body systems including our mental health, immune health, hormone health, how we age, and more. Perfecting your poops might be your ticket to feeling your best!
Janel Ferrin Anderson FNLP, DNM, NC
Janel is a board certified nutritionist, a functional nutrition and lifestyle practitioner, and has a doctorate in natural medicine. Janel helps people understand their body and supports them by using food and lifestyle to optimize health.