Your poop tells an important story. Consider it a window into your digestive tract. It tells you if you're adequately hydrated, producing enough enzymes, about the bacteria you have in your gut, and most importantly, how well you are digesting your food and whether your food choices are good for your constitution. This important diagnostic tool should not be overlooked.
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We suggest keeping a poop journal to give your bowel movements the attention they deserve. With this practice, you'll soon develop great body awareness. By tracking changes in your bowel health and correlating them with food you've eaten, you'll become an expert at making healthy food choices for your unique body and digestion. To make this process as simple as possible, we've created a weekly poop chart which you can download here:
Bowel RoutineAre you eliminating daily or once every couple of days? Note time of your bowel movements as well. Ideally you have a bowel movement within an hour of waking - anything less is considered constipation in Ayurveda. If you don't defecate upon waking, you want to be mindful of the level of physical activity you engage in until you do relieve yourself. Otherwise, as stool sits it begins to rot. If you exercise before pooping and your heart rate goes up, you will absorb more toxins from your stool as blood circulates more strongly. Your intestines are like sponges and they'll soak up toxins as readily as they'll soak up nutrients with the increased blood flow.
If daily elimination doesn't happen naturally for you, you may be dehydrated, have low metabolism or intestinal atrophy. Dryness in the GI tract is a common cause of fecal backup. Making sure you're well hydrated - especially before a meal - and adding good quality oils to your food can nip this in the bud. For low metabolism and cold digestion, cook with warming spices like ginger and black pepper to heat up your GI. Joyful Belly's Warm and Nourish Vata Pacifying Spice Blend tops your food with the kick you need to digest well.
Regular mealtimes support regular elimination. Consider laxatives like triphala if your bowel lacks tone. Or, increase your dietary fiber intake to stimulate your bowels. Twisting yoga postures and forward folds can help move things along.
If you are eliminating too often it may be due to a fast metabolism, too much oil and spices in your cooking, or irritation of the bowels. With fewer oils in your diet, you'll produce less bile in your liver, a known laxative and bowel irritant. Reducing spices will also reduce irritation in your gut. Slow down your metabolism with nurturing, cooling, soothing foods like homemade tapioca pudding or cucumber blended in milk. Joyful Belly's Soothe Inflamed Intestines Tea can help your gut calm down. Reduce stress, anxiety, and overthinking.
After noting the date and time, you'll want to examine the hue of your poo. The color of stool is generally due to a combination of bile and bowel transit time. Bile comes from the breakdown or red blood cells and is used by the liver to help in fat digestion. It's the brown color of bile that gives stool its characteristic color. Cinnamon brown colored stools are normal and indicate the bowels are neither fast nor slow. When stool exits the bowels too quickly, the bile doesn't have time to change to a brown color. Yellow stool is usually soft and indicates medium fast bowel transit time. Yellow or gray stool may also indicate fatty stools from insufficient bile production. Fatty stool indicates a weakness in the liver or pancreas. If your bowel movement is green, you either ate a lot of green veggies or bowel transit time is very quick.
Dark brown or black stool hint at dryness in the GI. If you're passing coffee grinds, you may have an upper GI bleed. When bleeding happens in the upper GI, the body digests the blood as it moves downward which changes the appearance of the blood into dark brown granules resembling coffee grinds. Fresh blood on the stool means your colon is bleeding. This can be due to irritation, a hemorrhoid, Colitis, Crohn's or other conditions. Any internal bleeding can cause serious problems like anemia and should be addressed immediately.
SmellAn earthy smell is natural, but a foul odor indicates fermentation and toxicity. And the worse the smell, the worse the toxicity. Stinky gas tends to accompany foul smelling stools. You might also find you have bad breath and body odor along with your noxious dump as some of the toxins are likely to be absorbed into your body. Here you'll need to detox by eating kitchari for a few days and sipping warm herbal teas. Laxatives like triphala might help clean you out. Consult your Ayurvedic practitioner to see what the best approach is for you.
TextureNext on the list is texture. If your feces are sticky - meaning they stick to you and/or the toilet - they're likely toxic and could benefit from the above detox measures. Liquid stools result from unhappy intestines. They may be irritated and need to purge. You might have inflammation in your GI tract or you could have parasites. Muddy poop is acidic. It burns coming out and stinks. The message conveyed here is too much fermentation in the gut. Your bacterial balance may be off or you may be eating too much heavy, difficult to digest food. This scenario causes food to stagnate and rot in the intestines making it noxious rather than nutritious.
If your feces look like clay, this is another indication of bile deficiency. You may want to encourage bile flow with more bitter foods like dandelion greens and aloe vera gel. Or with sour taste like lemons and limes. Or, you may need to nourish the liver's strength to produce bile with our Liver Nourish Support Tonic.
If your poop has cracks on the surface or breaks apart, it's likely old and dry. Laxative herbs like triphala might help keep things fresh. Pellet poop is due to dryness - dryness can wreak a lot of havoc on digestion! Pellets are often difficult to pass and can cause you to strain while eliminating. Over the long term this can lead to complications like hemorrhoids or colon prolapse. Ease your excretion with more good quality oils in your diet, hydrating with warm water and possibly a stool to lift your feet into a squatting position.
A pencil thin poop means there's inflammation or swelling in the colon, and you'll want to get to the bottom of that. If your feces looks like a veggie burger, you're eating too much insoluble fiber. A smooth surfaced poop is the holy crap you're looking for. This BM gets a gold star.
QuantityVoluminous and/or frequent bowel movements may be the result of lots of veggies or insoluble fiber in your diet. If that's not the case, you might not be absorbing much nutrition from your food and you'll want to remedy that. You might opt for easy to digest foods like soups and stews as well as digestive herbs like ginger and black pepper.
If your poop sinks, it's likely toxic. A floating, smooth banana is the ideal BM. The fiber in your poop is what makes it float, toxins weigh it down. Fat also floats. If your stools have too much fat in them they will float.
FoodLastly, you'll want to guesstimate the original food contained in your stool. Are you looking at yesterday's breakfast, lunch or dinner? If you're seeing lots of undigested food in your stool, you're either not absorbing nutrients, you're eating too much insoluble fiber or you ate something that doesn't agree with you. Look for patterns in your poop. If every time you eat quinoa, it comes out looking like quinoa - your body probably doesn't like quinoa or it needs you to prepare it differently.
Now you have the tools to keep tabs on your poop. Fill in the chart above each day using the descriptive terms outlined in this article. When you see something unusual in your toilet, take a picture of it and save it for your next appointment with an Ayurvedic practitioner. Pay attention to any digestive upsets. Inspecting your poop empowers you to become a master of your own digestion - inviting vibrant health to your life.
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BROWSE SIMILAR ARTICLES BY TOPIC
CLEARClear refers to anything that cleanses or flushes out wastes, or that digests ama.
CONSTIPATIVEAn herb that binds stools / stops diarrhea. When used in excess, these herbs and foods can cause constipation.
GENERAL-LAXATIVEPromotes a bowel movement. General laxative is an umbrella term that refers to several different types of laxatives...
HIGH-FIBER-LAXATIVEA class of laxative that adds bulk and water to stools. The size of a stool stimulates peristalsis and the stool passes more easily through the colon. It is important to drink plenty of water when using high fiber laxatives, as they can be dehydrating.
STIMULANT-LAXATIVEStimulant laxatives induce bowel movements by stimulating peristaltic movement (the contraction of smooth muscle in the intestines). They are effective when used on a short-term basis. On a long-term basis, they can create dependency. Aka irritant laxativ
STOOL-SOFTENERAn herb that softens stool that is hard and difficult to pass. They are the safest and most gentle type of laxative. Some foods are even stool softeners, such as warm milk with ghee.
DOWNWARDDownward-moving (Adho Gati Marga) substances move food downward in the GI tract, settle the nervous system, and relax muscles.
About the AuthorJohn Immel, the founder of Joyful Belly, teaches people how to have a healthy diet and lifestyle with Ayurveda biocharacteristics. His approach to Ayurveda is clinical, yet exudes an ease which many find enjoyable and insightful. John also directs Joyful Belly's School of Ayurveda, offering professional clinical training in Ayurveda for over 15 years.
John's interest in Ayurveda and specialization in digestive tract pathology was inspired by a complex digestive disorder acquired from years of international travel, as well as public service work in South Asia. John's commitment to the detailed study of digestive disorders reflects his zeal to get down to the roots of the problem. His hope and belief in the capacity of each & every client to improve their quality of life is nothing short of a personal passion. John's creativity in the kitchen and delight in cooking for others comes from his family oriented upbringing. In addition to his certification in Ayurveda, John holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Harvard University.
John enjoys sharing Ayurveda within the context of his Catholic roots, and finds Ayurveda gives him an opportunity to participate in the healing mission of the Church. Jesus expressed God's love by feeding and healing the sick. That kindness is the fundamental ministry of Ayurveda as well. Outside of work, John enjoys spending time with his wife and 6 kids, and pursuing his love of theology, philosophy, and language.
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This article was very helpful to understand how to analyze the elimination