Are you eating the right foods? A single glance at your stool provides answers.
Are you staying up too late? Your poop may advise you about that as well.
Your stools are a window into your digestive tract, a tool for diagnosing many digestive conditions.
In fact, it offers a rich summary of your health and wellness, a report card. It delivers a wealth of information about:
We Are Fascinated with Poop Except...Parents are fascinated by their baby's poop. Parents know the baby's poop tells the story of the baby's health.
They ask, "How much did she poop? What does it look like? Why does it smell like that? How long has it been since her last one?"
It seems that poop is an engaging topic--as long as it belongs to someone else.
Most of us don't like talking about our own poop, or even looking at it. It can trigger an outburst of "Ewwww," and make us feel vulnerable and embarrassed.
We want to get rid of it quickly, to hide it, flush it down--much the same as when a dog covers his droppings with grass clippings.
However, poop (like urine, sweat, menstruation, and the breath) is one of the few substances that comes out of our bodies regularly. This makes it a dependable and valuable diagnostic tool.
In the 18-24 hours it resides in your guts, your stool is impacted by your physical and mental condition.
Its size, shape, texture, color, odor, quantity and quality tell you a lot about what's going on inside your body
How to Examine Your PoopThe first step is to start a poop journal.
After each bowel movement examine your poop, ask yourself these questions and make note of your answers:
Your Food & Your PoopYour bowel movements can serve as a barometer for the health of your diet. For this reason also record what you eat each day in your stool journal.
After a time, you will begin to see connections between your food intake and the quality of your poop. An Ayurveda practitioner can help you interpret the meaning of these connections.
Was last night's steak and potatoes a good choice?Meat can be heavy. If your stools are smelly, a weird color, sink, or have a gnarly shape after eating meat, next time add more aromatic spices to your meat, like rosemary. Or, find easier to digest proteins like fish, or egg-drop soup.
Why do I get diarrhea whenever I eat french fries?Oily food is digested by bile from the liver, which can irritate the lining of the intestines. If oily food gives you diarrhea, reduce the amount of oils in your diet.
It also helps to make note of where you are and what you're doing when you eat. At home, in a restaurant, while driving, at your desk? And how you were feeling at the time? Sad? Stressed? Anxious? Happy?
Lifestyle can also affect stools. If you tend towards constipation while traveling, that can indicate a holding pattern of tension and anxiety in the lower abdomen. Keep a poop journal for several weeks. The patterns that emerge will fascinate and inform you.
Poop, Enzyme Output, and Fat MetabolismDamage to your stomach, liver, gallbladder, and/or pancreas can cause enzyme insufficiency and weak digestion. It is associated with symptoms such as gas, bloating, toxin buildup and stinky poop.
Stinky poop is rotten, fermented poop that is toxic to your body. Your mood may be foul with all those toxins sitting around in your body!
Severe enzyme deficiency is associated with diarrhea.
A major cause of weak digestion is dehydration, which also causes enzyme insufficiency. When your body is dry you lack the fluids required to produce the enzymes needed to effectively digest your food.
When dehydrated, your body absorbs the water it needs from your stools. This causes stools to be dry, hard and difficult to pass - the opposite of diarrhea.
Poop and Metabolism. What's the Connection?Or how about your metabolic strength or "umph?" Your poop can help you with that as well.
Digestion requires about 10% of your daily metabolism to work correctly.
The direct connection between digestion and metabolism means the weaker your metabolism (or agni), the weaker your digestion.
Even mental health issues (mood swings, anxiety or depression) can promote weak digestion.
What Color are Your Stools?The time it takes your food to pass from your mouth to your anus (called bowel transit time) can impact the color of your stools.
Healthy poop is a cinnamon brown color. If it is yellow or green, you may have eliminated it so fast the bacteria in your gut didn't have time to break down your bile.
Green poop can also be a sign you recently ate a lot of green, leafy vegetables like kale or a spring salad mix.
And if you just ate some beets you will likely see red in your poop - it's not blood but the beet.
Light colored poop, including gray, light brown or cardboard colored stools, on the other hand, may be a sign of bile deficiency, an indication of poor fat digestion.
How Much & How Often Do You Poop?Even the frequency and quantity of your poop can give you info about your health and well-being.
The average human poops about one pound of feces in a day. South Asians, who have a high fiber diet featuring beans and lentils, pass about three times what Americans do.
And while an extremely large poop can feel satisfying, if it is soft it means you aren't absorbing the nutrients and fluids from your stool.
Ideally you should poop daily and at close to the same time of day.
If not, food will accumulate in your gut and start fermenting there. Your bowels are a warm, moist environment at 98.6 degrees, an ideal environment for bacteria to flourish.
Unfortunately, your intestines are like sponges. If fermented food lingers in your gut, toxins build up and your intestines soak up this foul material.
What About Your Lifestyle?Each different type of poop has its own special meaning.
Did you ever notice what your poop looks like after a late night out with friends, or during times when you are sick, or stressed?
During these periods of strain poop can be stinkier, slimier, or oddly shaped.
As you become more observant, you'll begin to notice that just as your poop reflects your overall health and diet, it also reflects your lifestyle choices.
The Ideal, Healthy PoopHealthy choices produce a floating, earthy-smelling stool. The ideal healthy stool will be banana shaped with a smooth surface and a cinnamon brown color.
If you are stressed and/or stretched too thin, your poop will show up in less than ideal form.
Sometimes changes in your stool can be serious and life threatening.
For example, thin stools indicate inflammation in your digestive tract. Blood in the stool or increased bowel movement frequency can be signs of cancer, especially when they are not related to diet change.
Make it a HabitStool analysis is a valuable tool for health and happiness.
Ayurveda recommends that you examine your poop daily for clues about whether you are making the best food and lifestyle choices.
If you notice changes, you can make adjustments accordingly. More info is available on the Joyful Belly site. And for best results, consult an Ayurvedic practitioner for help.
When your floating, banana shaped, cinnamon colored stool returns, you'll know you're on the right track.
However, if your poop shows worrying signs, consult your doctor as soon as possible. Early intervention can help prevent serious illness.
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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.
DIGESTIVEHerbs that encourage healthy digestion.
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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