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Poop, There It Is

Poop, a natural product of our body’s digestive and detoxification systems, and yet still so taboo to talk about, even though everyone does it! It’s not polite conversation unless you’re in health care, a parent of a young one or a long-distance runner (when you run together for 3-4 hours you talk about everything). Even camping among friends, we used to say we were going for a Business Meeting (BM). Not that we need to know the details about each other’s schedules, but we shouldn’t be afraid to discuss what normal is or issues we’re having. Others have been through the same thing so why not learn from them? Besides, your poop can tell you so much about your health!

If this topic makes you squeamish or uncomfortable, stop reading and go eat some fibre.

So how many bowel movements a day is normal? This is different for everyone and will depend on your diet. I recently read a book written in the early 1900s that talked about the most dreaded condition, constipation. The author said that having only one bowel movement every 1-2 weeks was perfectly fine. His theory was that if you were eating healthy then most of your food would be absorbed with nothing left to eliminate. However, that would mean you’re not eating any insoluble fibre and that you’d be accumulating toxins. On the other hand, vegans/vegetarians might go three times a day because of all the fibre in their diet. Today’s “normal” is between three times a day to three times a week. Even if you have fewer bowel movements it might be normal for you, but you should discuss this with a doctor to be sure.

Other things that will affect your frequency include water and fibre intake, exercise, and medications.

What about colour? Any shade of brown is normal, and the colour could very well be affected by your diet (green, red). However, if its black you should see your doctor. Same if it’s red and you haven’t eaten red food. Yellow means you’ve been eating too much fat, or you may have a malabsorption disorder. Pale or white – see your doctor.

And what about floaters? That’s usually a sign of excess gas caused by beans and is normal.

Nobody’s stool smells like roses but if it’s extra stinky, see your doctor. You may have an infection, a food intolerance, or other condition.

Finally, let’s talk consistency. Well, not really. I’m going to draw the line here because you might be eating. But I will tell you there’s a Bristol Stool Chart you can refer to if you want to have a look. Types 1 and 2 indicate constipation, 3 and 4 are normal, 5 means you’re lacking fibre and 6 and 7 indicate diarrhea.

You should also see your doctor if you have severe abdominal pain and indigestion, blood in your stool, or if diarrhea lasts more than a few days.

How can you keep your digestive system happy? Eating whole foods helps you get the vitamins, minerals and fibre you need. Drink plenty of water and get regular exercise. If you want to go the extra mile, do a detox diet at least once a year. And if you’re over 50, be sure to see your doctor regularly for colon cancer screening.

And that’s the scoop on poop!

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