WHAT YOUR BOWEL MOVEMENTS REVEAL ABOUT YOUR HEALTH
5 BMs THAT REQUIRE MEDICAL ATTENTION
Unless you are aware of dietary changes or a medication that could produce the following types of stool, it’s advisable to seek medical attention if you observe the following changes in BMs.
1. Stool that is hard to pass, requires straining, or is accompanied by abdominal pain.
2. Black, tarry stool might indicate infection or GI bleeding, while bright red stool could indicate infection and/or bleeding in the GI tract or anus. Seek immediate medical attention.
3. White, pale, or grey stool could indicate problems with the liver, bile ducts, or pancreas.
4. Yellow stool could indicate serious infection or gallbladder problems.
5. Mucus in the stool can indicate inflammation, infection, or even cancer.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU GO?
How frequently you have a BM is important, too. And, what’s typical for you may be different for other people in your family. For most people, three weekly BMs are considered the norm. No matter how often you poop, you should not have to strain or experience pain while excreting. Additionally, be aware that the appearance and frequency of BMs will vary based on what’s in your diet, sleep and exercise patterns, hormonal changes, travel, stress, hydration level, medications or supplements you are taking, and exposure to toxins (from nicotine to industrial toxins).
HOW LOW SHOULD YOU GO?
There’s also evidence that the position you take to evacuate the bowels has health implications for the physical structures of the GI tract. So much so that some scientists indicate sitting to poop is a contributing factor in the development of colon and pelvic diseases. Before potty training, young children squat to poop in their diapers—they don’t sit. Yes, there’s a difference between squatting and sitting. The modern toilet places the thighs at a 90-degree angle to the abdomen, whereas squatting has a much deeper angle that gives more motility to the intestinal muscles and organs. Evacuating the bowels is much easier on the body in the squatting versus seated position. Toilet position should be a consideration for everyone over the age of five, but is especially important for the elderly, the disabled, and individuals with compromised mobility.
You can learn more about proper toilet position in this video:
- Mercola, J. “What You See in the Toilet Can Give You Valuable Insights into Your Health.” Accessed February 2015.
- Monastyrsky, K. “Gut Sense: What Exactly Are Normal Stools?” Accessed February 2015.
- Sikirov, D. “Comparison of Straining During Defecation in Three Positions: Results and Implications for Human Health.” Abstract. Digestive Diseases and Sciences 48, no. 7 (July 2003): 1201-5.
- Step and Go. “Step and Go Ergonomically Correct Toilet Position.” Accessed February 2015.
POWER UP YOUR GUT WITH FERMENTED FOODS
FERMENTED FOODS SHORT LIST
• Cultured Dairy: Yogurt and kefir
• Veggies: Beets, radishes, tomatoes, onions, garlic, kimchi, green beans, sauerkraut
• Condiments fermented at home: homemade ketchup, relish, salsa, chutney
• Other: organic Miso, tempeh, tofu, soy sauce
FERMENTED FOOD FACTS & TIPS
• All fermented foods must be kept cool to maintain the live cultures.
• Food labels must be marked “fermented.”
• Fermented and “pasteurized” do not go together. Pasteurization kills live cultures.
• Pickled is not the same as fermented (unless indicated on the label). Pickled foods are soaked in vinegar or brine.
• Choose organic, non-GMO items or locally farmed products
• Start with small servings of fermented foods, one to two times a day
• Toss fermented veggies into salads; enjoy as a snack or as a side dish
• Add a spoonful or two to your morning smoothie (e.g., beets, kefir)
- Chilton, S., J. Burton, and G. Reid. “Inclusion of Fermented Foods in Food Guides Around the World.” Abstract. Nutrients 7, no. 1 (January 2015): 390-404.
- The Huffington Post. Headlines On Fermented Food Trend.
- Mercola, J. “Fermented Foods: How to ‘Culture’ Your Way to Good Health.” Accessed February 2015.
- Rawlings, D. Fermented Foods for Health: Use the Power of Probiotic Foods to Improve Your Digestion, Strengthen Your Immunity, and Prevent Illness. Fair Winds Press: 2013.
- Schwenk, D. Cultured Food for Life: How to Make and Serve Delicious Probiotic Foods for Better Health and Wellness. Hay House, Inc.: 2013.
- Williams, D. “Fermented Foods that Boost Digestive Health.” Reviewed February 6, 2014.
1 daikon radish or a few red radishes, sliced into half moons
2 carrots, sliced into half moons
2 green tomatoes or tomatillos, chopped
1 medium onion (leeks, scallions, or shallots may be substituted, to taste)
6 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
2 medium-size chili peppers (jalapeno for mild heat, habanero for more kick), chopped
3 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
1 tablespoon any brand Himalayan pink salt
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. “Massage” the mixture with your hands, grabbing handfuls and squeezing repeatedly until vegetables are wilted and excess water is squeezed out. Spoon kimchi mixture into a quart-size jar with a wide mouth. Pack tightly, pressing hard until brine rises; the vegetables must be submerged to avoid mold forming. Loosely cover jar with a lid. Allow kimchi to ferment at room temperature for about a week. Each day, press the mixture down to keep vegetables submerged in the brine. The longer it ferments, the more sour it becomes. When kimchi has fermented to your taste, store in the refrigerator.
Probiotics are live microorganisms (in most cases, bacteria) that are similar to the beneficial microorganisms naturally found in your GI tract. The most common probiotic bacteria come from two groups, lactobacillus or bifidobacterium, although many other types of bacteria are also classified as probiotics.
SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE SHOWS THESE PROBIOTICS:
- Boost the immune system by enhancing the production of antibodies
- Support the synthesis of vitamins and other nutrients
- Relieve the effects of, and treat, intestinal illness (diarrhea, constipation, IBS)
- Prevent and treat vaginal yeast infections and urinary tract infections
- May reduce the risk of colon or bladder cancer
Two ways to boost healthy GI flora are to take a probiotic supplement or add probiotic-containing foods to your diet. Probiotic supplements come in liquid and capsule forms and many are sold refrigerated. Check with your doctor to be sure you select a product that meets your personal health needs. It is important to follow the storage instructions for your supplement—failure to do so could kill off the live, healthy bacteria it contains.
Probiotic-boosting foods include fermented foods and cultured dairy products. Be sure the food labels state “fermented” or, for dairy, “live and active bacterial cultures.”
- The Definitive Guide to Probiotics in Your Diet. Revised January 2017.
- Kiani, L. “Bugs in Our Gut: How Probiotics Keep Us Healthy.” Cambridge Scientific Abstracts: Discovery Guide (October 2006).
- Mayo Clinic. “Do I Need to Include Probiotics and Prebiotics in My Diet?” October 15, 2014.
TONIFYING THE COLON WITH TRIPHALA
As always, addressing the root cause of improper elimination is first and foremost. So, before starting on any substance or formula, discuss the best strategy for you with your doctor or qualified healthcare practitioner.
- Gowda, D.V., G. Muguli, P.R. Rangesh, and R.D. Deshpande. “Phytochemical and Pharmacological Actions of Triphala: Ayurvedic Formulation – A Review.” International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences Review & Research 15, no. 2 (July/August 2012).
- Mukherjee, P.K., et al. “Clinical Study of ‘Triphala’ – A Well Known Phytomedicine from India.” Iranian Journal of Pharmacology & Therapeutics 5, no. 1 (January 2006).
- Svoboda, R. Prakriti: Your Ayurvedic Constitution. Lotus Press: 1998.
- Tierra, M. “The Wonders of Triphala: Ayurvedic Formula for Internal Purification.” Accessed February 17, 2015.
While the use of enemas is ancient, this particular therapy dates back to the early 1900s and has a long history of clinical evidence from physicians who routinely saw the difference it made in their patients’ symptoms. It is also surrounded in controversy, as many alternative healers make wild and fantastical claims of its benefits.
Colon hydrotherapy is so gentle and effective that it is frequently used as an alternative to oral laxatives before a colonoscopy. In addition, this therapy is used to treat people who suffer from fecal incontinence, children with chronic constipation, and those diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Finally, it is used to relieve the multitude of physical and emotional symptoms that frequently accompany chronic constipation, poor elimination, and various bowel diseases such as IBS.
As with any health procedure, it is important to work with a trained and certified colon hydrotherapist. When this procedure is done by a trained professional with proper equipment, the rate of adverse reactions is extremely low. This is a helpful and scientifically supported therapy used by all different types of physicians around the world.
Find a certified therapist here.
- Christensen, P., and K. Krogh. “Transanal Irrigation for Disordered Defecation: A Systematic Review.” Abstract. Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology 45, no. 5 (May 2010). doi: 10.3109/00365520903583855.
- Mooventhan, A., and N.L. Nivethitha. “Scientific Evidence-based Effects of Hydrotherapy on Various Systems of the Body.” Abstract. North American Journal of Medical Sciences 6, no. 5 (May 2014):199-209. doi: 10.4103/1947-2714.132935.
- Pizzorno, J., and M. Murray, eds. Textbook of Natural Medicine. Seattle: John Bastyr College of Naturopathic Medicine: 1985.
Preziosi, G., et al. “Transanal Irrigation for Bowel Symptoms in Patients with Multiple Sclerosis.” Abstract. Diseases of the Colon and Rectum 55, no. 10 (October 2012).
- Richards, D.G., D.L. McMillin, E.A. Mein, and C.D. Nelson. “Colonic Irrigations: A Review of the Historical Controversy and the Potential for Adverse Effects.” Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 12, no. 4 (May 2006): 389-93.
The information offered by this newsletter is presented for educational purposes. Nothing contained within should be construed as nor is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. This information should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider. Always consult with your physician or other qualified health care provider before embarking on a new treatment, diet or fitness program. You should never disregard medical advice or delay in seeking it because of any information contained within this newsletter.
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