When I was a kid it would drive me nuts when my mom’d ask me the same question over and over.
Every day she’d ask me, “Have you been to number two, yet?”
It felt invasive, personal, embarrassing.
And I remember once I got so fed up that I turned round and told her indignantly, “I don’t know. I don’t keep a record. And I can’t remember because I have more important things to think about!”
Thing is, in the decades later, I know that poop is actually very important.
As Steve Wright, from SCD Lifestyle and a presenter at Real Food Con, states it is a subtle clue as to the overall state of our health. And constipation is a sign that things aren’t going as well as they should be…
Following are my take aways from his presentation.
His talk was very illuminating. I learned a lot about poop.
(You can listen to his presentation in its entirety along with transcripts, opportunity to view 28 other top quality presentations, and lots of other goodies by getting an all-access pass to Real Food Con. Make sure you do so soon, because the price doubles Monday, October 28th. There’s even a payment plan. )
1. There are four factors when evaluating your poop for health: a) how often do you go; b) the consistency of your stool; c) how easy it is to pass and; d) are you able to get it all out.
2. 1-3 times a day is ideal. Less than that means you’re constipated. If you regularly only go every third day or there is longer between your bowel movements, you should seek intervention.
3. Your stool should rate as a Type 4 or 5 on the Bristol Stool Chart. Steve described healthy poop as being like “a long, soft log or soft serve ice cream”. Quality is the most important variable when assessing stools. If you have this type but go less often than daily, you may not have constipation.
4. Stools should be easy to pass. This is often overlooked because in our culture, it is considered common and/or amusing for people to spend large amounts of time in the bathroom. You should be in an out in a couple of minutes. The process should be fast and painless.
5. You should leave the bathroom with a big smile on your face. “Total Evacuation” sounds like the title of a movie but it is important that you feel that you got it all out.
6. We are amused by pooping but it is a serious subject. Poor pooping can affect the quality of our lives, constipation or bowel issues can cause their own problems (hemorrhoids, anal fissures and diverticulitis) and lead to even more (inflammation, endotoxemia). Constipation is a more than a nuisance, it is a sign our bodies are not functioning properly.
7. Don’t rely on supplements or evacuation supports such as Metamucil and coffee enemas. Their efficacy fades over time and the body can come to depend on an outside support to complete a natural process.
8. Constipation is a problem with evacuation, not a lack of fiber. It is important to unblock the colon, to keep waste matter flowing through it via peristalsis – the muscular waves that move food and waste through the body and which is impaired with constipation.
9. Dietary intervention is the first resort to fixing constipation. Avoid grains, industrial seed oils and processed foods. Meat, veggies, fruits, starchy tubers, animal fats, small amounts of dairy, nuts, some legumes.
10. Actions to treat constipation with diet are simple and additive. Try them all to find what works for you.
11. The easiest and quickest way to resolve constipation is to up your daily fat intake. Eat an avocado every day, eat a higher fat cut of meat, take coconut oil in food.
12. The next most important action is to eat more vegetables. The fermentable substrates in veggies are what support the pooping process. The best vegetables for this are onions, garlic, mushrooms, carrots, berries, broccoli, pears, apples, bananas. Work them into every meal.
13. Increase carbohydrate levels to 75-150g a day. Low carb diets can cause constipation in some people. Try adding half a sweet potato to your dinner meal and observe the results. If you have small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), yeast or fungal overgrowth, adding carbs will cause your symptoms to worsen. This is a good clue and you should seek testing.
14. Adding salt to your diet can relieve constipation. Add half a teaspoon of sea salt to your meal in the morning and evening. Add it to water if you don’t want it on your food.
15. Eat more probiotic-rich food. These help with inflammation and help move the fermentable substrates in veggies move through the body. Find one that you can regularly add to your meals. Wright suggests buying real food sauerkraut, without vinegar. Start with a forkful and work up to a quarter cup a day.
16. Vitamin C flushes, prebiotics, prunes (studies show effectiveness) are useful interventions if diet isn’t enough.
17. Good bathroom habits are extremely important. Do not delay when you get the urge to go, avoid distracting yourself, leave the bathroom if you are not ready or done in two minutes, use a Squatty Potty to position your body so that you give your poop the optimal exit channel.
18. If constipation persists and diet changes don’t help it is likely you have deeper issues and you should look into advanced GI stool testing.
19. Hormonal issues can cause constipation problems. Low hormonal levels will slow everything down and both women and men should have their sex hormones levels checked. Thyroid and adrenal problems will cause sluggish digestion.
20. People who suffer from constipation often have overloaded detox pathways. This gives them a tendency to allergies and inflammation.
And there you have it. Remember, if you would like to watch the whole presentation and get the full value of Steve’s knowledge about the poop, you can do so by gaining an all-access pass to Real Food Con. Click here to do that.
Steve Wright is a health engineer, author and co-founder of SCD Lifestyle, a health consultancy established to help those experiencing digestive distress. In 2009 he reached breaking point when IBS took over his life, and the doctors didn’t know how to help. Since then, he has transformed his health and started working with Jordan Reasoner to help others naturally heal stomach problems.