Most of us have read the book, we all do it, and yet we still have a hard time talking about it. This bodily process is required and so normal but yet we never talk about it.
‘Staying regular’ is a very important part of our health. This elimination is a vital process that keeps our gut and intestines healthy by releasing toxins and waste that our body doesn’t want. When we eat and drink there is an amazing sorting process completed by our stomach, liver, kidneys, intestines, and colon where they decide what part of our diet is best to stay and which we need to eliminate. Keeping this cycle regular and efficient is crucial to maintaining our health. Yet this problem is more common than not for many people.
So why is that? Why do so many struggle with this process everyday?
Our stress levels have a large role to play in this. When we are chronically stressed, our gut struggles to maintain regularity and elimination becomes either over abundant, or constipated. This struggle is all too familiar for many of us and understandably uncomfortable, so we tend to keep this information to ourselves. But I think it’s important to normalize this subject and discuss this issue with less embarrassment, perhaps creating a bit more understanding so that people realize irregularity is not something you have to live with.
Stool can tell a lot about someone’s health: from the schedule of elimination, consistency, odor, color, size, and shape. Our digestive tract has a specific shape and therefore elimination should follow this pattern. A normal stool should resemble the shape of a sausage with a smooth, walnut brown-matte finish, and preferably in the shape of a J. Overall, this shows a healthy, clean and functioning gut, intestinal tract, and happy colon that easily eliminates. Many Eastern doctors use a stool sample from their patient a lot like when you need one for your dog to be checked out. It's of the same importance for a human to have an understanding of what is coming out actually means for your health
When we have chronic stress, have a poor diet, consume alcohol or other substances and medications regularly, this can dramatically affect our gut’s ability to eliminate properly. Waste then typically comes out loose, with discomfort, and a foul odor. Did you know that healthy, regular stool should actually have little to no smell at all? This sounds silly but a functioning gut and intestinal tract works hard to properly sort and absorb nutrients from food, and when the wasted product comes out, it shouldn’t have a smell. When we eat a poor diet, especially coupled with stress, the system fails at being capable of the sorting process and the waste is smelly, uncomfortable, and imbalanced.
Apart from eliminating in a proper shape, a good sign of health in waste is the ease of wiping. When you wipe afterwords, the tissue should be clean, with little to no marks. This shows that the elimination was successful and complete. When we don’t allow our bodies to completely release, maybe when we’re in a rush, we end up with a lot to pick up after.
The successful process should leave the body feeling satisfied and effectively ‘cleaned out’.
There are many lifestyle recommendations you can adopt to help keep a happy gut and healthy elimination. First, we always want to start with diet. Processed foods, sodas and energy drinks are filled with sugars, sodium, and overall processed elements that the body has a hard time recognizing as nutrients. These products go straight through the system and bypass the absorption that healthy foods go through. They pass through us and the waste is uncomfortable and messy. Eating whole fruits, vegetables, a lot of whole wheat fibrous grains and heart healthy proteins help the body process and absorb what it needs. Elimination is then easy, smooth, and efficient. When going through a transition into gut healthy foods it’s always helpful to try a probiotic to balance the gut environment and help the body’s natural process. Probiotics are especially helpful when prescribed an antibiotic as they can be very disruptive to the gut. This causes elimination to be slow or too loose and uncomfortable. The probiotic keeps the gut from becoming distressed and injured. When it comes to prescription medications, many of them are very gut disrupting too. They cause an imbalance in that microbiome of the gut and it becomes more difficult to allow the natural process of sorting to occur. Of course, some of us may have little choice in the need for these medications so this is why probiotics can be really helpful. Probiotics can come from supplements or many whole food sources as well. Fermented foods like yogurt, kombucha, vinegar based products, etc are a great way to add this balance to your daily diet.
Inflammation from foods also imbalance the gut and can keep it in a chronically inflamed status. The processed foods and drinks are usually the biggest cause of this, along with stress. We can combat this by incorporating anti inflammatory foods into the diet. Spices like turmeric, ginger, garlic, act as a natural anti inflammatory and are easy to add to almost any savory dish. Water is also key at a healthy digestive tract. Hydration keeps all things moving and happy! The system can’t push toxins and waste out if it is not hydrated. I like to start my day with a glass of warm lemon water to get things moving. The warm water helps keep the system saturated and moving, while the lemon is an excellent detoxifier. The combination is a great way to begin the day because our bodies can tend to retain toxins while we’re sleeping. Morning time is a preferred elimination schedule so we rid of all toxins and waste from the day before.
Exercise plays a big role in our gut health too. Keeping a moving body is very important to keep all the gastric juices flowing and the organs' ability to properly function. Stagnation manifests in our stool; when we aren't moving, neither is our waste. Position can be a large factor to efficient elimination. Our ancestors did not have the commode and this sitting position we now use is not very natural to the gravity our bodies need. Trying a squatting position for a while before using the toilet can be beneficial. I have also read and tried the elevation option and this works! When sitting on the commode, elevate the feet so you have the knees bent and are sitting at a nice 90• angle. This helps the digestive tract be in an ideal angle to eliminate.
Most importantly, remember this process doesn’t need to be rushed. Be patient and respectful to your body’s natural process and allow some real time to sit, relax, and allow it to work. If it’s difficult to relax and allow for this time, reading a book or listening to a podcast is a helpful tool to relax the mind and the body. This has been very helpful for me.
Remember this is a NORMAL and important part of our everyday lives as humans. Normalize the conversation if you or someone you know is having a hard time with it and remember that irregularity and discomfort are not normal or fair to live with. Quality of life is the most precious, and this is a part of that!
So next time you’re on the John, relax, allow, and then check it out. Analyze your stool and maybe try working on modifying a few things to help make that healthy, j shaped, walnut smooth consistency so you have a happy gut!
This link is very helpful to see what different stool types mean for your body
RYT 200 HR Light On Yoga Fitness
Health and Wellness Advocate