By Dawna Matthews
My father told my family that you can tell how healthy someone is by their poop or lack thereof. I always thought this was a weird statement to make but as I have grown older, I realize this is the case. Many family members as well as friends discuss experiencing tummy troubles as well as feelings of sluggishness, and being rundown and worn out. These can be signs of a poor digestive system.
We have all heard about the dramatic increase in digestive disorders, discomfort, and the various methods to promote a healthy digestive system (such as probiotics and fermented foods). If there are so many people having these issues, we need to start learning about the health of our body at the most basic of levels and take a look at our poop.
Proper elimination is key to the digestive process and necessary for overall health. The large intestine, also known as the colon, is the final organ through which the food we eat passes. The absorption of vitamins, water, and other nutrients occurs in the large intestine and the solid matter left from digested food then passes through the system. This solid matter, or waste, then exits the body after being in the colon for 12-24 hours. Since the colon governs our digestive system, it is important to keep it toned, cleansed and moving regularly to ensure proper elimination.
According to John Douillard, “Almost every traditional system of medicine as well as western medicine has a method of evaluating your health based on bowel movements.” By examining our poop before we flush, we can get a sense of what is working in the digestion and excretory systems of the body. If digestion is functioning normally, the stool should be well formed and resemble a ripe, soft banana and float in water. Additionally, you should have a regular bowel movement every morning or at least once a day. Some signs of improper digestion are varying consistencies and colors of the fecal matter and strong, unpleasant odor. This can indicate toxins are in the system as well as a digestive system not working the best it can.
By examining your own poop and knowing what is a normal and healthy bowel movement for you, you are empowering yourself to notice when something is irregular before it becomes an issue or leads to problems such as constipation or diarrhea and other illnesses. In order to build and maintain a healthy digestive system which will help you to digest food as well as absorb nutrients, there are a few tips to follow:
1. Stay hydrated — Drink lots of water in order to stay hydrated and prevent constipation. In the morning, it is especially important to start the day with water or a digestive tea such as ginger tea.
2. Slow down while eating — Chew food slowly. When you rush while eating, you are not allowing the digestion process to start by breaking down your food.
4. Increase fiber and fermented foods (also known as ‘flora’) — Fiber helps to sweep the intestines and get the toxins moving through the body. Probiotics and fermented foods such as kombucha, pickled foods and miso help break down food into nutrients and waste. Both fiber and flora work together to purify and rejuvenate the digestive system as well as to help the body absorb nutrients.
Proper elimination is vital to the health of our body. By understanding what our poop looks like, we can take responsibility for our health and help our digestive system maximize the nutritional power of each bite we take. Maybe once we get our digestive systems in healthy working order, we can talk about something else with our family and friends besides our tummy troubles.
For more information on healthy digestion or to take a “poop-quiz”: