What comes out of the long central tube in your body tells us much about the effectiveness of your digestive system. If stools aren’t easy, effortless, daily, clean and not odorous, then your body could be telling you something that you need to pay attention to.
Firstly, it helps to know what characterises a healthy bowel movement?
A healthy bowel movement is effortless and pretty clean, and people might be surprised to hear that a healthy bowel movement does not smell bad. Odorous stools are not healthy stools, even if the consistency is right. It is a statement of the degree of fermentation that is going on in the gut by the flora balance – and overgrowth of bad gut bacteria will be demonstrated by the smell and messiness of your stool. We want the transit time to be just right, so the stool isn’t sitting around long enough to dry out into type 1 or 2 on the Bristol Stool Chart, and we don’t want things moving through so fast that it comes out loose or liquid, type 5 or 6 on the chart. The perfect stool is type 3-4, is once or twice a day, and is done in an efficient time and cleaned up in 1-3 wipes.
If this is not you, or your child/ren, then it is wise to pay attention to what the body is calling for. A colon that is not healthy can have far reaching effects on health, and make for a body that can struggle with energy, clarity, sleep, immune resilience, brain function, memory recall, behavioural tendencies and mood stability. Gut problems are well known to be risk factors for anxiety and behavioural issues in children and teens.
What is an not so healthy bowel movement?
On the Bristol Stool Chart it is anything that is not a regular, low odor type 3-4. Furthermore, it is an indication that there are issues that need attention. Whether it be food sensitivities, low digestive secretions (stomach acid and pancreatic enzymes), parasites, imbalanced gut flora, candida overgrowth, inflammation, or problems with peristalsis, the way the stools moves through the colon, getting the bottom of the issue will help your health as a whole, and can improve the quality of your life once resolved.
Signals that the body needs help on the inside…
· Constipation – type 1-2 stool, less than one movement every day
· Irritable bowel syndrome – alternating constipation and diarrhoea, urgency, frequency, pain
· Bloating and abdominal distension
· Flatulence – large amounts of wind from the bowel is not normal, but if they are odourous, it is definitely not normal. Instead of moving through in a healthy way, the bowel is fermenting and rotting the food in the stool. Food sensitivities, digestive enzyme deficiency and an overgrowth of dysbiotic organisms are likely all at play.
· Stinky poo - odorous stools or flatulence. Bowel cancer is preceded by many years of very smelly bowel movements. It tends not to happen in people who don’t have stinky poo.
· Loose stools, urgency, frequency – often occur when there is inflammation in the gut due to food allergies or sensitivities, or an inflammatory state of the gut mucosa.
· Mucus in stool – this is a big alert that should be acted upon. Mucus in the stool speaks of severe inflammation in the colon and the body is trying to protect itself.
- Diverticulitis - pockets in the gut wall can harbor pathogenic bacteria which can overgrow and cause inflammation and pain, as well other risk factors.
· Encopresis – stool leaking, usually in school age children and even though it looks like diarrhoea, this is where the stool stretches the lower part of the bowel and causes the nerves to stop working, so the child doesn’t know when they need to go, and will soil their undies with a very stinky loose stool. Naturopathy helps with bowel recovery.
· Inflammatory bowel disease – Crohn's, Colitis, Ulcerative colitis – deep inflammation and ulceration of the gut wall caused by any number of factors. This increases the tendency to food sensitivities and needs to be addressed with Naturopathic medicines attuned to the presentation of the individual. This care works well alongside medical care, helping to support the functional aspects of the body’s essential digestive, assimilative, and elimination systems.
Two other areas to be mindful of in regard to doing a proper gut repair program is when a person has had an episode of gastro or parasites, and when a colonoscopy has been undertaken in the last few years. These three gut disruptive factors always need intentional gut repair and flora restoration to help the mucosal membrane, which is only one cell thick, to properly heal and rebuild, while supporting strong growth of beneficial flora, and suppressing opportunistic overgrowth of adverse microbes and organisms.
A strong, healthy, resilient gut biome and mucosal barrier helps to resist and protect against future gut infections and digestive problems, protecting against infectious relapses and pathogenic overgrowths, while supporting optimal uptake of nutrients, and proper elimination of wastes. Even if gastro-intestinal infections, parasites or colonoscopies were some years ago, it is never too late to actively undertake a program to restore this essential system and ensure any residual inflammatory effects are healed.
Naturopathy excels at gut health, an important part of personal Wellness Care, helping people to thrive and not just survive. With Naturopathic tools such as non-invasive food sensitivity testing, microbiome mapping, parasite testing, nutritional screening, and a vast array of possible gut restoration plan options, we can help give you the support your body most needs.
Personally, I do love doing gut work with people as the impact on health is always profound and rewarding. It is interesting to see how dramatically things can change for people when they have a healthy, clean colon, optimally functioning digestive system.
The most common feedback from clients after a gut prolgram tends to include comments about
- improved energy
- weight loss and body shape improvements
- fluid retention and puffiness clear
- bloating disappears
- low or no wind
- indigestion goes
- stools don't stink anymore
- skin clears
- eyes shine
- sleep becomes deeper and more restorative
- hormones balance out, PMS clears, menstrual pain reduces, menopausal flushing eases
- body pain reduces
- inflammation resolves more easily
- joint pain eases
- moods become more stable
- stamina and exercise performance improves
- auto-immune conditions calm down
- but most of all people report a massive improvement in brain function - with better memory recall, mental sharpness, and clarity of mind.
People tell me they didn’t know they were ‘toxic’ till they got to experience ‘clean’, often for the first time in their lives.
A healthy gut influences all aspects of health and wellbeing. It is the central system through which we absorb nutrients and energy, and it is our core waste management system – it makes a noticeable difference when it is working well.
One thing I have learnt over the last 20+ years as a Naturopathy, the body is always communicating. What is your bowel telling you?
Monica Williams (Naturopathy & Holistic Therapies)
Sessions in Tewantin Qld, Malvern Vic, and by videocall anywhere.