Being the father of two little girls, I know I have my work cut out for me. I have come to accept that there are lessons that I can teach my children and there are others lessons they will simply have to learn through personal experience. One of the lessons I constantly remind them of is that regardless of anyone you meet, movie stars, political leaders, school teachers, superstar athletes, etc., we all have one thing in common; we all poop. Sure, this always gets a snicker out of them, but they quickly recognize that indeed, we are all the same. Considering that we are all adults here, I thought I would take a moment to expand upon this life lesson with all of you by pointing out something that you may not have considered to be an effective way to monitor your own health. Look at your poop.
Go ahead, get your childish ‘snicker’ out of the way. But trust me, when your bowels are misbehaving, it’s really not too funny. Beyond being the ‘butt’ of many jokes, our poop can tell us if our body is working to absorb nutrients, eliminate waste, and keep everything, well, moving. That might make you wonder, what’s abnormal? What looks/smells/feels off base? Are you ready to take a look in the toilet?
Since we all just celebrated Halloween, I thought I would use some items that are likely to be in abundance around your home right now. Perhaps after reading this, you may lose the temptation to indulge.
Below is a chart I created that is based off of an actual chart known as the “Bristol Stool Chart”. My images are much more fun than those found on these charts (Google it if you don’t believe me).
As you can see from the chart above, there are several different types of stools you should know about. Types 1 & 2 are what we know as constipation. Types 3 & 5 are within the norm. Type 6 & 7 have crossed over into the diarrhea realm (never fun). Type 4 is the sweet spot. So, how do we get our number “2” to be like number “4”? The Institute of medicine recommends that we take in 25 grams (men) and 38 grams (woman) of fiber per day. Most Americans get about 15 grams per day (I suppose that explains why there are so many irritable people out there). Many experts recommended bumping it up to 40 grams per day. Next, healthy poop is about 75% water. If your body senses that it is dehydrated, it will suck every last drop of water from your food, leaving you with, well, let’s just say we are in ‘Milk Dud’ territory! Even if you are taking in plenty of fiber, when you don’t stay hydrated, you’re looking at dealing with something resembling a ‘Payday’.
If either of these elements is shortchanged (too little water, not enough fiber) constipation can happen. Constipation is also a common side effect of high-protein diets, so don’t confuse “Paleo” with “meat-tastic” and don’t forget to load up on fruit, veggies and H2O!
On the other end of the spectrum we have the unwelcomed guest; diarrhea a.k.a. Type 7; the chocolate milkshake. This will typically occur when your body completely rejects what you are putting in. Things like fried fatty foods are normally not appreciated by your body. Dairy, fructose, and artificial sweeteners are typical triggers too. Viruses and illnesses can trigger this response as well as certain medications.
In the ‘end’ (sorry), you should be vigilant about what you are ingesting so that your body can maintain a regular pattern of movements. If your poops are fluctuating between ‘Milk Duds’ and ‘Milk Shake’s’, you may have a case of irritable bowel syndrome. Check with your doctor immediately if that is the case.
Of course things such as exercise and stress reduction will also help keep your body functioning optimally too, so don’t forget to incorporate these into your daily habits as well.
Well, I hope I have not completely ruined your appetite or the craving for the candy in your kids trick or treat bags. Until next month, stay safe. Have a Happy Halloween and try not to think of me every time you poop.