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Colon Health - What is your gut telling you?

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.



WHAT IS A HEALTHY POO ANYHOW?

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.


SO WHAT IS AN UNHEALTHY POO THEN??

Everything else.


Odorous bowel movements are not healthy bowel movements, even if the consistency is right. The smell speaks to the degree of rotting and fermenting that has gone on between when you swallowed it, and when it came out. An overgrowth of bad gut flora will contribute to the smell and messiness of your stool. So will the amount of digestive enzymes your produce (or lack thereof) in the stomach and small intestine, and how well you chew to prep your food for digestion.


A stool transit time that is too fast or too slow can also be a problem. We want the time it takes for food to move through the digestive process to the elimination point to be just right. If the the stool is sitting around too long due to slow transit time, it will dry out and lead to constipation or a bulky stool (see type 1 or 2 on the Bristol Stool Chart). If things move through too fast, you will have a stool that is frequent, urgent, sloppy, loose or liquid (see type 5 or 6 on the chart). The perfect stool is type 3-4, occurs effortlessly once or twice a day, does not smell, does not cause stress, passes efficiently, and is alled cleaned up and over in 1-3 wipes.


Your gut speaks to you every day (hopefully) - what is your poo is telling you? Stinky poo that is messy, mucousy, black, floaty, fatty, or sticky can not only increase the risk of colon disease and cancer, it can also contribute to inflammatory illnesses, pain, behavioural problems, headaches, bloating and a host of other systemic problems that ultimate make you feel crap.


THE BRISTOL STOOL CHART

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.


MESSAGES YOU MAY WANT TO LISTEN TO...

Some signs that you may want to pay attention to that the body needs help on the inside.

  • Constipation – type 1-2 stool, less than one movement every day, poo that is hard to pass

  • 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, leaking, diarrhoea – often occur when there is inflammation in the gut due to food allergies or sensitivities, or an inflammatory state of the gut mucosa.

  • Incontinence - fecal accidents, encopresis, accidents - needing to know where the loo is at all times

  • 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.

  • Wind, especially explosive noisy or stinky wind, and productive farts

  • Poo that takes a LONG time to get out, or gets stuck (noooo!). It should not be painful or time consuming poo. You want to think "I'll just go for a quick poo", and be back at your desk within 12 minutes.

  • Poo that makes a mess of the toilet (eyeroll)

  • Poo that won't flush (gah!)

  • Poo that is hard to clean up

  • Oily / floaty poo - this happens if you don't absorb fat very well

  • Pale poo - this happens when there is not enough bile, not a good thing for your digestive process and nutrition

  • Nausea, tummy aches, colicky pain - digesting and pooing should not hurt at all, it should be a silent process

  • Urgent poo after eating

  • Bloating and abdominal distension (no I'm not pregnant!)

  • Waking up at night to do a poo - this is not good, not good at all. Pay attention if this happens.

  • Black tarry stools - this can indicate intestinal bleeding higher up (also not good).

  • Haemorrhoids - usually a sign your poo has been too hard, and you haven't eaten enough vegetables or fiber over time (OR you've just had a baby, of course. Nothing like pushing out a watermelon sized human to upset your back passage.)

  • Diverticular pockets, diverticulitis - these outpocking pockets in the colon wall due to intra-lumen pressure from hard stools. These pockets can become infected with an overgrowth of bad bacteria and cause a lot of pain and inflammation. If you have been diagnosed with this, you need a gut program ASAP.

  • A medical diagnosis of a gut disorder - such as GORD, reflux, helicobacter, parasites, IBS, inflammatory bowel disease, Crhohn's, colitis, or any other diagnosable pain in the gut.

MICROBIOME

You are more bacteria than you are cells, and most of these bacteria hang out in your colon. If you eat crap (bread, pasta, sweets, processed foods ... the Standard Australian Diet) and you don't eat enough vegetables, or wash your hands before you eat, you will probably have an overgrowth of the kind of bacteria that do not help you to be in chipper health. An overgrowth of some of these bacteria, such as Strep, can even increase your propensity to anxiety, tics, OCD, repetitive behaviours, and a whole range of inflammatory and auto-immune problems.


PARASITES

Parasites like a gut that is overgrown with the bad stuff, dirty and full of undigested rubbish. If your gut is like a rubbish tip, you will be more likely to host some unwanted guests who will take the good stuff from you, and leave you with more rubbish to get rid of. If you have had salmonella or gastro and not felt better since, if you have chronic anaemia that won't respond to iron supplements, or if you have gut issues like those above that just won't get better, you might want to see what you are hosting in your colon.


FOOD SENSITIVITIES

If you aren't digesting foods well, or if your diet is based on foods that your body can't handle, you will be more like to make a rubbish dump of your gut and that can make you vulnerable to parasites, bacterial overgrowth, leaky gut, and immune activation. Taking out foods that stress your body, while focusing on natural foods that don't, is a smart start to getting well.


STOOL INCONTINENCE - A CASE STUDY (*name changed)

Lenore* had been suffering from fecal urgency, frequency and accidents for many years. She had become like a prisoner, needing to be near a toilet at all times. She couldn't socialise and would have to time her dashes to the supermarket to get home as quickly as possible. She could never guarantee she wouldn't leak or have an accident. It was extremely stressful and causing great damage to her confidence, self-esteem and ability to enjoy her life. She was also 18kg overweight and suffered terrible insomnia, headaches, mood swings, anxiety, reflux, joint pain and fatigue.


We started with some functional tests to check for parasites, dysbiosis and microbial issues in her gut. We also did food-sensitivity testing and discovered that most of the foods she was eating were causing her gastric distress. Her stool testing came back with three parasites and a great deal of gut-inflammation and damage. (Despite her multitude of visits to the GP and gastroenterologists she was never checked for parasites. Yep, true.)


Lenore moved through her program with intentional and motivated gusto.

  1. She removed the foods that showed up on her Food Sensitivity Testing.

  2. She took the phasic Naturopathic program at the prescribed times without fail.

  3. She ate A LOT more vegetables - but had to watch the ones that increased wind for a while because she also had SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth).

  4. She learnt to cook in a more holistic way.

  5. She called ahead if they were eating out with friends so that she would be able to avoid the foods she couldn't handle by pre-ordering a simple meal and reduce stress at the restaurant.

Within three weeks her bloating had gone, her energy improved and she started sleeping deeper and longer. Her exercise stamina improved along with her mental clarity and mood. She started to win at mahjong (!).


By three months her stools were firm and her bowel movements reduced to once or twice daily, and no longer urgent or messy. Her stools became firm, formed, easy to pass, and in the mornings reliably and routinely. She had no soiling episodes from the second week of her program, and by three months could go out in the day without worrying where the toilets were. She began socialising confidently again, and began going out on day trips with her husband.


Her program was finished at four months and she moved t maintenance. She didn't really want to stop, but at four months we retested her foods and a lot were tolerated now. Her body pain was gone, she no longer had headaches, her anxiety was gone, her brain was sharp and she felt great. (Her friends weren't happy though, she continued to thrash them at mahjong, becoming the reigning champion of the group.)


By the end of her program she had boundless energy, was sleeping through the night, was buoyant and jovial in mood, she was at her ideal weight, she felt empowered and confident. Her life was 100% better. To celebrate she booked a long awaited cruise with her husband and their friends.


She kept away from the foods that remained as triggers for her, but because she knew what foods didn't suit her body, she was able to manage it easily.


Happy Husband - Toward the end of her program I stopped by her house to drop her in a herbal tonic before she went away. Her husband came out of the house to tell me a heartfelt thank you. "I have my wife back" he said with tears in his eyes. (Husbands, partners and family members are usually the MOST grateful when a person puts the effort and energy in to getting themselves well. It's contagious too, in a good way. (wink))


HEALTH THE NATURAL WAY

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.


It doesn't matter what the problem is called, when you fix the gut, the body can fix itself.

The most common feedback from clients after a gut program 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 say they had no idea they were ‘toxic’ until they got to experience ‘clean’, often for the first time in their lives. They rarely go back to how they were living before, they know what the effects are.


THE STATE OF YOUR 'CENTRAL TUBE' IS THE DICTATOR OF HEALTH OR DISEASE

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. What you put in there and how you prepare it in your mouth is extremely important to what happens further down.


The body is always communicating. We just need to learn it's language and listen.

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