Colon Health - What is your bowel saying about your health?

Updated: May 11

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