There’s actually a reason I ask every client I see about their poop.
(Totally unrelated aside: my job is so glamourous, peeps.)
You might already know that your poop can reflect your physical – and sometimes even emotional – health.
You may get constipation or have diarrhea when you eat something that “doesn’t agree with you,” or when you’re super-nervous about something. Maybe you even find you need to go 3+ times in the 2 hours before your end-of-semester graded recital with staying in your program on the line. Maybe this accurately describes my own life in university with performance anxiety. Maybe that’s TMI. Maybe we’re moving on now…
And what about fiber and water? If you’re not getting enough, it’s very likely to show in your poop.
What about the all-important gut microbes? If they’re not happy, it’s also very likely to show in your poop.
Here’s a trivia question for you:
Did you know there is an “official” standard for poop? I mean a university-created chart! One that is used to help diagnose conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?
Meet the Bristol Stool Scale
The Bristol Stool Scale was created at the prestigious University of Bristol in the UK back in 1997.
You can see the chart here. And yes, I present a variation of the visual to my clients to help us figure out where they’re at. *Glamour.*
The scale breaks down types of poop into seven different categories ranging from type 1 which is very constipated, to type 7 which is diarrhea:
1 – Separate hard lumps (very constipated).
2 – Lumpy and sausage-like (slightly constipated).
3 – Sausage shaped with cracks in the surface (normal)
4 – Smooth, soft sausage (normal).
5 – Soft blobs with clear-cut edges (lacking fiber).
6 – Mushy consistency with ragged edges (inflammation).
7 – Liquid consistency with no solid pieces (inflammation).
Other “poop” factors to consider
You probably guessed that the shapes described in the Bristol Stool Scale are not the only thing to consider for poop health.
Think about how often you go. At least once per day, up to 3 times per day is pretty darn good. Less than one, or more than three can mean there is something going on.
What about how hard you have to try to go? You want it to be as effortless as possible.
And the colour? It should be brown from the bile that you need to break down the fats you ingest.
And if it’s green after a day of massive veggie intake, or red after that large glass of beet juice, you’re just fine.
But if you see an abnormal colour, like red or even black that you can’t explain based on what you ate or drank in the last day or two (like those beets or maybe charcoal – which is popular in drinks and treats right now), you probably want to get that checked out.
What do you do when you have “imperfect” poo?
Well, the first things to consider: how imperfect is it, and how often is it like that? Like most things in life, poops aren’t always going to be perfect, and that’s okay. We can, however, strive toward that so-called shining example.
If you know you need to get more fiber or water, then try increasing that.
If you haven’t had enough probiotic foods, then try getting more of them. (Maybe even the recipe below!)
If you’re super-stressed, then try deep breathing, meditating, or having a warm bath. You can also check in with a few more of my favourite stress-busters here.
Oh, and don’t forget the two most basic pieces of nutrition advice for better poops:
- First, eat a variety of nutrient-dense, minimally processed foods, including a lot of fruits and veggies (and their “fibrous” skins, wherever possible). The fiber in these is not only helpful for pushing food through your gut, but they also feed those millions of amazing helpful critters that live there (your friendly gut microbes.)
- The second piece of advice is to eat slowly, and mindfully, chewing thoroughly.
These are good habits for anyone and everyone, even if you already regularly have textbook-perfect poop!
Of course, long-term issues might require a more thorough review with a qualified health care practitioner. Don’t suffer from poop issues for too long before seeking help.
Super-Simple Coconut Milk Yogourt
- 2 cans full-fat coconut milk
- 2 probiotic capsules
- Open the probiotic capsules and empty contents into the blender. Blend with coconut milk.
- Transfer to a sanitized glass jar (make sure the jar is not still hot – you don’t want those probiotics to die).
- Store it in a warm place for 24-48 hours. If it’s not thick enough for you, you can let it ferment for another 24 hours.
- Add your favourite yogourt toppings, and store the rest for up to a week in the fridge.
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: Fermenting food is not an exact science. If this doesn’t work out as you’d like it to, try different brands of coconut milk and/or probiotics.