Tuesday, April 20, 2010

You and Your Poop

Yep, it’s time to talk about your poop.

Call it what you want – bowel movement, #2, (could go on and on here), if you’re uncomfortable with the word poop……uh…well, let’s just agree to get used to it for this occasion.

“WHY”, you may be asking, “Why must we discuss poo?”

Very simply, what you don’t digest well you don’t eliminate well and checking out what you leave behind can give you a glimpse of your overall health.

Beyond that, here are some compelling statistics. Colon cancer is the 2nd leading cause of cancer deaths and 50% of people over 60 have polyps (and 75% become cancerous). In the U.S., estimates are that we spend over $700 million on laxatives and over the counter remedies for constipation alone! Look at that amount of money, people….let’s cuddle up to your colons and get started.

So, just to review, let’s refresh ourselves of the large intestine’s purpose, which is to move food matter through the system, regularly, and help excrete it, regularly. At least once per day is considered healthy, and most references discuss moving approximately 12 inches total (could be all at once or in a few visits to the bathroom).

In addition, you should feel like you’ve fully evacuated.

Get that?

You should feel like everything has left your system.

Transit time is an important consideration – that’s the amount of time it takes food to move through your digestive tract (from mouth to anus). A healthy transit time is between 12-24 hours. The U.S. average transit time is 48-72 hours. UGH! Food spends too much time in the ‘processing plant’ which opens up the door for imbalance in gut bacteria, stagnation, constipation, etc.

So, what should you be looking for? Well, to start this process it’s best to become like a 2-3 year old child (or channel your own inner child). Start finishing your business in the bathroom and then turn around and inspect your production. This should be an exciting event, so feel free to whoop and holler, maybe even call your family over for a teaching moment.

Poop contains water, indigestible fiber, undigested food, sloughed off intestinal cells, living and dead bacteria, bile, and worn out red blood cells. A normal stool should be brown to light brown, formed but not hard or too soft, cylindrical but not flattened on any side, fairly bulky and full bodied but not compact, easy to pass, and it shouldn’t have an extremely foul smell. Each bowel movement should be in one piece, about the size and shape of a banana being tapered at the end. Sometimes this will not be discernable if the poop breaks up in the toilet.

If you need a frame of reference, you can always start with the Bristol Stool Scale,


Developed in 1997, this designates stool into 7 different forms or types. This form or type is dependent upon the amount of time spent in the colon. There are ideals and, of course, norms designated on this scale. This scale is useful to anyone who would like to determine the condition of their colon because it is a generic indicator; it is not an absolute diagnostic tool. You could print this out, frame it, and have it posted in a handy spot in the bathroom…just sayin’.

My personal favorite frame of reference is from
Eat, Move and Be Healthy by Paul Chek.

He created the “Poopie Line Up” and “Poopie Policeman”

The “Poopie Policeman” represents a healthy bowel movement.

For a bowel movement to qualify as a “Poopie Policeman”, it must:

• Be well shaped and consistent in contour
• Pass easily
• Be light brown in color
• Smell natural, almost earthy- not foul
• Float, not too much, yet doesn't require multiple attempts to flush

The “Poopie Line Up” is made of the Flasher, Diarrhella, Pellet Man, The Bodybuilder, Olympic Swimmer, and Mr. Sinker ‘n’ Stinker. Here are their basic descriptions:

See undigested food in stool; this may indicate a food intolerance or inflammatory disorder.

Desperate attempt at detoxification by body; should NOT fluctuate between constipation and diarrhea.

Pellet Man
Look like rabbit or sheep manure – may indicate altered peristalsis or dehydration.

The Bodybuilder
Larger in diameter, hard to pass – may be due to too many processed and dehydrated foods.

Olympic Swimmer
Lighter in color, high concentration of undigested fat, difficult to flush (thus the name); may be deficient in bile.

Mr. Sinker ‘n’ Stinker
Usually appears after being exposed to processed foods, toxic environment and/or medical drugs – especially after surgical procedures. Take steps to detox body.

Dr. Mehmet Oz almost gives a poetic twist to the discussion of poop, “"You want to hear what the stool, the poop, sounds like when it hits the water," Oz instructs. "If it sounds like a bombardier, you know, 'plop, plop, plop,' that's not right because it means you're constipated. It means the food is too hard by the time it comes out. It should hit the water like a diver from Acapulco hits the water."

Isn’t that a great visual? Makes me think of a restaurant in Denver, CO where cliff divers jump into the water while you’re eating……but that’s a different story.

What’s the story for today?

Start inspecting your poop, people.

Get comfortable with a little quick check, hopefully every day.

What to do if you have unhealthy poo? Keep your eye on my blog…we’ll be providing input in a series titled Your Magnificent 7.

“What is your Magnificent 7?” you may be asking.

Stay tuned.