The quantified self movement is starting to gain main-stream status. The use of fitbits, fuel bands and jaw bands is exploding, which clearly indicates that we love tracking our health. We want to be certain that all the energy, money and time we spend staying healthy is really paying off, right? Let’s put all of the technology aside for a moment and back up. There’s one simple tool that most people are ignoring today that can easily help you tell whether or not you are healthy. Yup, you guessed it! Poop.
If you aren’t having optimal poops, it means that one or more problems are present somewhere in your body.
The Digestive System Controls Your Health
Over 2,000 years ago, Hipporates said, “All disease begins in the gut,” and yet research has only really exploded on the gut and its relation to human health in the last 10 years.
Recent scientific breakthroughs are showing that your gut flora has the ability to communicate directly to your brain, thus affecting your moods, feeding your immune system information on how to act, and helping to control inflammation (1) (2) (3).
We also now know that healthy people have good production of short-chain fatty acids(SCFAs) in the colon. Some of these SCFAs, like butyrates, have anti-inflammatory effects, increase insulin sensitivity, and may help those with digestive disease (4).
Many people I talk with understand the importance of buying the best non-GMO, organic and locally sourced produce. But what they are ignoring is that simply eating high quality food isn’t enough. The body has to be able to break it down and then absorb the nutrients. And the most reliable indicator of your body’s ability to digest and absorb high quality food is your poop.
If you’re poop isn’t healthy, it means your digestion is too slow or too fast. Which means those foods aren’t being absorbed and you’ll be at risk of developing many types of chronic health conditions, including neurological diseases, autoimmune diseases and chronic inflammatory conditions.
Tracking the health of your poop on a daily basis is a great way to find out if your body is truly healthy.
4 Signs Your Poop is Healthy
Perfect digestion creates perfect poops. You probably know the feeling; it leaves an unmistakable grin on your face as you close the bathroom door. It’s important to know exactly what an ideal poop is so you can see how you stack up.
1: The Poop Should Look Like This
The quality of your poop is the most important factor in gauging your digestive health. We have countless ways of describing our poop to one another. Until we begin using the same scale, it’s almost like we’re trying to talk about snowflakes. So if you haven’t heard of this nifty poop scale I want to Introduce the Bristol Stool Chart.
As you can see, this chart makes it very easy for us to rate our poop, which then allows us to communicate with one other (most importantly medical practitioners). Looking at the picture above, anything from a 1 to a 3 on the chart is on the constipated side, while 6’s and 7’s are on the loose stool/diarrhea side of digestion.
The perfect number to shoot for is a 4, but 5′s are also very good.
2: You Should Poop Everyday
You wouldn’t appreciate it if the garbage man threw 90% of the trash back at your house while only taking 10% with him each week would you? The same can be said with your body. Poop is waste and it has to go. Getting rid of it at least once a day is a minimum. Having a bowel movement as often as every meal is, according to some experts, even better.
A general rule to remember is going one to three times a day is normal and healthy, while every other day or a few times a week isn’t good at all. This is constipation and will increase the toxin load within the body and can lead to increased risk of disease and physical problems such as hemorrhoids.
3: Pooping Should Be Fast, Fun and Easy
Do you get a smug smile on your face after a sweet number two? If so, it’s likely because the work you did was fast, easy and now you can’t hide your pride. Which is great because it shouldn’t feel like a workout in the bathroom (no sweating)! Pooping shouldn’t be thought of as a daily break either. The goal is to get in and out. Longer than 10 minutes is defiantly a problem.
A perfect poop is easy in every way possible. You get the urge, make your way to the bathroom, sit down and in a flash it’s over. There should be no pain, no pushing, no blood, no sweating and no wiping forever (nobody likes the poop of a thousand wipes).
If your experience in the bathroom isn’t fast and easy, then there is something wrong with your gut.
4: No Poop Left Behind
Don’t you hate it when your boss makes you re-do a project? No one likes to have to re-do a job they’ve already attempted and the same is true when it comes to pooping. A perfect poop is one that is complete. In other words, you feel like you got it all out.
There should be no need to return to the bathroom within a few minutes. The job should be completed properly the first time, otherwise you’re having an evacuation problem.
So the big question is: are you having perfect poops? Because if you’re not… it could be a sign of something bigger going on with your health.
For more information on meal plans, cooking tips, and best practices for the diet, please see the “SCD Lifestyle.”