Every living thing eats; so everyone poops. If we actually stop and take a look in the toilet bowl … our poop can be a very real indication of our overall health. It’s one of the few reminders we get about our health on a (hopefully) daily basis and yet, we don’t pay much attention to it. Not only that, but we also don’t like to talk about it. Your brain and the good bacteria in your gut communicate directly, influencing your mood, your immune system, and your inflammation.
If your poop isn’t healthy, your digestive tract is either moving too slow or too fast, which can lead to an increased risk of developing chronic health conditions like a neurological disease, autoimmune disease, and chronic inflammatory conditions. The rate your bowel movements move through the digestive tract also determines how many nutrients and water you absorb from your food.
Here Are 3 Ways To Tell If Your Poop Is Healthy:
1. How Often Do You Poop?
The research suggests you should poop every day. In fact, the range of “normal” is typically 1-3 times a day. Poop is waste and you need to get rid of it every single day to make sure that you’re properly removing toxins and other waste material that’s gotta go.
2. Are You Pushing Too Hard?
How easy is it for you to poop? It’s normal practice to grab a magazine or take our cell phone to the bathroom and read for a half hour, battling to win the poop fight. But the reality is that a “normal” poop shouldn’t take but a few minutes. If it consistently takes a long time to evacuate your bowels, consider making dietary changes. Increasing your water intake, eating more fiber, and incorporating exercise can help reduce constipation.
3. What’s the color and consistency of your poop?
Did you know there are different classifications or types of poop? Poop starts as a yellow-green color due to bile and the changes to brown as it moves through your intestines. Your poop color can also change based on medications, diet, and medical conditions. It’s important for you to look down and see what’s really going on.
Thankfully, the folks at the University of Bristol published a study in the Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology, gifting us with the Bristol Stool Chart.
Here it is in all its glory:
How Can You Improve Your Health & Your Poop?
1. Eat Real Food
The biggest mistake we see is people that claim to eat healthily, but in reality, their diet is full of sugar and low on veggies. Stick to eating real food. It’s one of the most important changes anyone with digestive problems can make.
2. Consume Probiotics
Our gut has a TON of bacteria, and a healthy gut flora is critical for healthy poop. Consume good “bugs” every single day. Start with fermented foods like sauerkraut, kombucha or water kefir and see how well you tolerate them. A high-quality probiotic is one supplement that can also boost the immune system in the gut and improve digestive health.
It turns out your poop habits are significantly affected by how active you are. A lack of physical activity can contribute to constipation because being sedentary can slow the digestive system, which means that stools are hard, difficult to pass or don’t pass often. Being under emotional stress can also trigger constipation. Since exercise is an effective way to alleviate stress, that can also cause an increase in bowel movements.
4. Drink Enough Water
Drink enough water! This is the most simple and most often missed step to good elimination. The actual amount will vary by person but drink enough water that your urine is lightly colored and doesn’t have a strong smell. Also, take into account how much tea or coffee you drink in a day as this could be working against your water count.
5. Use a Squatty Potty
A Squatty Potty is a device you put under your feet to elevate them and change your overall posture when you poop. Simply put, it’s more like squatting (which is how our body was designed to eliminate before modern toilets came along). If you or someone in the family regularly has bathroom issues, I highly suggest putting one in every bathroom.
6. Get A Massage
Yes, massage helps calm the body and the mind, which means that it kick starts the Parasympathetic Response. This slows down breathing and your circulation lowers your blood pressure and turns back on your digestion (the repetitive strokes of a massage on the lower torso also help stimulate the large intestine). Regular massage strengthens the walls of your colon and loosens fecal matter for constipation relief.
7. Know When To See A Doctor
Some changes in your stools shouldn’t be ignored and may indicate an underlying medical condition such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s, or Ulcerative Colitis. If you have an unusual change in your poop that lasts longer than a week is not a result of better eating and health care, consult your doctor.