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what your poops want to tell you by michelle cordeiro, cnp

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Quick poll: when you go to the bathroom do you wipe sitting down or standing up? 

It all started with Dan Harmon on a podcast talking about how he wipes his bum. Yep. Just so you know, Dan Harmon is a stander. He goes on to say that his friends all think it's super strange that he stands up, so naturally my roommates and I started discussing. Everyone in the house thought that his standing up routine was weird... 

Except for me. 

I was outed as a stander and was SUPER alone in it. So I started asking around and no matter what you think, the jury is out on this. I. AM. NOT. ALONE. Everyone I harassed for this personal info had such different (and STRONG) opinions on what was the right way to do the thing. I had created a shit storm (heh) of heated debates and I was loving it. 

I realized this is pretty in line with the fact that we just don't talk about our poops! We don't! So often talking with clients I'll find clues that lead to the root cause of an issue through something they take for granted. Something they wouldn't have mentioned if I hadn't asked because it never raised alarm bells to them. I mean really, who do we have to compare our poops to other than ourselves? 

Imagine a world where we knew what our poops were telling us? Where we talked (in beautiful detail) about the shape, size, colour and consistency of our number twos? I mean come onnn how fun would that be ;).

But don't worry, we're going to talk about it right now (no pictures, promise). 

HOW OFTEN 

Okay. In an ideal world, where everything was as it should be, we'd all be going three times a day (aka one meal in, one meal out). But this is hard to come by. Instead, ensuring that you have at least one decent (fully formed, easy to pass) poop a day is a good place to start. Two? Even better. Three? You're killing it. 

A simple way to test your 'transit time' (how long it takes for the food you eat to make it's way out of your body) is the beet test. YUM! Since beets turn your BM's (bowel movements) red, by tracking how long it takes to pass those beets can be a good sign of how long your transit time is. The shorter the better, though the ideal is around 18-24 hours since this is thought to be the average time it takes for your body to remove waste. A longer transit time could be a sign of constipation and might be something to think more about. 

SINK OR FLOAT

Is one right and one wrong? Technically no, but one thing floaters may be telling you is that there's a high fat content making up your BM's, a sign that you're not digesting fats as well as you could be. Bile (produced by your liver) is needed to break down and absorb fats, and fatty poops could mean that your liver isn't quite functioning as it should. Crazy, eh! One small clue from your poop could be a telling sign about a big-shot organ! SO IMPORTANT! 

Since there are other potential causes of this (some totally normal, such as excess gas in your GI tract from certain foods), working with a health practitioner to pinpoint the underlying cause is the best way to properly rule out any issues. 

So while as a general rule I would say you want your poops to sink, there are many reasons floaters are perfectly healthy too. This ONE sign isn't going to make or break your level of GI health, so look deeper at what's going on and (always always always) focus on how you're feeling. 

WHAT SHAPE

According to the Bristol Stool Chart (since I promised no pictures, you'll have to Google it), the ideal BM is long and either smooth or with cracks on the surface. So, there's that. 

Did you Google it? Are you going to buy one of the BSC mugs or novelty t-shirts? Because they make those... the internet is a weird place. 

You also want to look to your poop for signs of improper digestion, which might look like undigested food particles or stool that is small and hard to pass. If you're finding undigested bits, think first about going back to mindful eating and ensuring that you're chewing your meals down to a paste before swallowing. If you find you have trouble passing these small 'deer poops', it sounds like you may, again, be constipated. 

Rather than turning to laxatives, there are many lifestyle and dietary factors to look at. Laxatives have a place, but the overuse of them can lead to a bandaid fix on a long term problem, and could cause your bowels to become lazy and dependent over time. So use them wisely. Tune into your fibre intake, how mindfully you're eating, your exercise routine, diet and lifestyle to see where more sustainable changes can be made. 

SO WHAT TO DO? 

Need someone to talk to about what's going on with your number twos? I got you. I really think sharing these sometimes hard to talk about details with your health practitioner is extremely important. Whether it's me or someone else, finding a practitioner that you feel comfortable with is so so important to your optimal health. 

Because that's what we're after right? Health that isn't just getting us through the day but that allows us to thrive and feel really really good in our bodies. 

For this reason I offer free 15 minute meetups to chat, connect, ask questions and get feedback as to what's causing the funkiness in your gut. Often it's small changes that can reap big big results over time. 

Questions? As always, reach out!