Don’t ignore your poop

 In Opinion

I get to talk about many confidential topics in practice with patients. I’m constantly amazed and honoured at how patients open up about their stories and health. The one topic that almost always makes patients stall and squirm in their chairs is that of bowel movements. Many don’t know that term and I have to literally say “your poops!” After a laugh, most patients reply; “mine are normal.” But what is normal if this is a topic that we don’t openly discuss?! Below are my guidelines to track how healthy your poops are and if you need to possibly seek professional help.

Any pain or blood with bowel movements?

This is an important question for me to rule out more serious pathologies. Pain and blood are not normal. It can be common for various reasons such as hemorrhoids, but this indicates that something is not quite right.

Are you bowel movements one piece?

This helps determine the consistency and give indications to a patient’s processing and absorptive capabilities. One solid ‘S’ shape piece is the targeted norm. Loose pieces or hard pellets are not ideal and indicate that the digestive tract needs support.

How often are you going per day?

The norm is about one or two times per day but the ideal is three – one in one out policy for meals to bowel movements. If you are going more frequently than three times per day, there could be an IBS like process going on where you are not absorbing the maximum nutrients from your foods. If you are going less than once a day there could be issues with toxicity and leaky gut leading to inflammation.

When you go, do you fully void?

This is another important point to understand the digestive tract and how things are being processed. If you are having unsatisfying bowel movements, meaning unable to get everything out, this could indicate that your microbiome could use some support to help regular peristalsis and processing.

If you were outside of the ‘norm’ with any of these questions, you should inquire about working with an ND. We specialize in gut health to support a healthy microbiome. The gut is not only important for absorption and excretion but it has an incredibly vital connection to brain health, the immune system and inflammatory processes in the body, so don’t ignore what your poops are telling you!

Kate Hunter is a naturopathic doctor and owner of The Creemore Apothecary.

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