Wednesday, March 7, 2012

What Goes IN, Must Come OUT!

Let's talk about poop, baby!
Let's talk about you and me!
Let's talk about all the good things and the bad things that may be!

Let's talk abouuuuut poop!

I am slightly off my rocker (keep your comments to yourselves)! But seriously, bear with me, gag on your morning coffee a little, and let's talk about the by-product of your beautiful gastrointestinal factory.

Did you know that your poop (or ca-ca, pooh, #2, turd, shit, little brown river pick your favorite term of endearment), can tell you an awful lot about your current state of health?

Yes, I'm asking you to pay attention to your fecal matter. What exactly IS it telling you?

We all know your bowel movement is NOT saying, “Hey chicka, what’s up today?!” Too often, we ignore our feces. (Unless we carry the XY chromosomes and brag about each and every masterpiece). Most of us consider our waste product as useless. Furthermore, our society demands that we keep our poo-poo hush-hush, especially if we are of the feminine side.

Let’s not engage in a full on conversation about the diversity of ca-ca….you know, all the various shapes, sizes, smells and colors of pooh. Let’s just highlight the importance of knowing a good pooh, from a bad pooh…..let’s learn to differentiate beyond the feeling of “poo-phoria” after a good release, the discomfort of rabbit pellets of constipation, or the even more feared “sharts”!

Here’s a fun fact about doo-doo: Did you know the average weight of stool excreted a day is just about a pound?!

We can focus on the most popular types of poo and what they mean for your health.

1. Rabbit pellets. Everyone has seen how a cute little bunny poops, right? Well, we are not rabbits and therefore, should not be crapping like them! You are constipated and you MUST. EAT. FIBER! Vegetables are a great source of fiber! High-fiber foods are the broomsticks that sweep out your intestines. Every meal should have vegetables to keep your colon clean! Load up on water as well to keep your turds hydrated and moving down along the tract!

2. “Oh, that was dinner poo”. You know this one, very reminiscent of a previously eaten meal – the one that makes you question whether you simply inhaled or actually chewed your food. Doesn’t corn instantly come to mind? Like the rabbit pellets above, had you actually eaten corn or celery (aka insoluble fiber), you would not have been constipated. Many forms of insoluble fiber pass right through you as your body lacks the enzymes required to digest certain plant cell walls. Insoluble fiber is important as it softens your stools and enables them to pass with ease. Soluble fiber, such as the famous BEANS (“Beans, beans, the magical fruit, the more you eat, the more you toot!”) and nuts help form a substance when combined with your stomach secretions – this gel like substance guides the waste from your body.

3. Shart. These are dangerous. Terrifyingly dangerous. Who hasn’t had the urge to fart? These farts are deceiving and when released, you get more than you bargained for. Just hope you are not in public when you shart. Normally, your solid poop is kept tucked neatly inside until you feel the urge to go to the toilet. However, occasionally, your lower colon stores liquid stool (aka diarrhea) and your need to fart accidently releases much more than you anticipated. You are not alone. I will not tell you about my one and only shart. I will not.

4. Rambo poo. We have all had a poo or two with the dreaded blood. Your heart drops as you fear a call to your doctor about your butt may be in store. Rest assured! There are many benign causes of blood in the toilet bowl, including hemorrhoids or perhaps you have wiped like Sylvester Stallone in frenzy. However, any black stool could mean blood higher up in your digestive tract and should be reported to your medical professional immediately. Any red blood that does not cease after a couple of poops should also be reported. Again, it would not hurt to increase your FIBER! (Sensing a trend?)

Like Skittles, poo can come in a rainbow of colors. Typically, poo is brown – a result of bacteria in our colon digesting bile. The rainbow variation comes from our various food intake, such as beets (nice reddish hue) or spinach (lovely Green Lantern affect). Yellow poo is indicative of fat in the stool and should be reported to your doctor. Black poo should also be reported, although consider if you are on iron pills or have taken Pepto-Bismol recently.

The moral of this story, truly is your poop is a critical messenger of your health. If you feed your body crap, then yes, crap will come out. Focus on increasing your high fiber foods over the next month or so and see what healthy works of art you will create in your own personal bowl! Some examples of high fiber foods are whole grains, vegetables (precisely, brussel sprouts, artichokes, peas, turnips), fruits (pears, figs, blueberries), legumes (black beans, lentils) and nuts (namely almonds and pistachios).

What is the perfect poo you ask? Well, a wise person once told me it was a “hairy floater”. After you stop laughing, it is perfect in the sense that it’s not too tightly compacted, and it’s not loose diarrhea. Its “hairy” as that is a sign of insoluble fiber that has just swept your innards clean. It floats because you are hydrated. It’s a healthy poo.

Happy Healthy Pooping to you!

(Certain factual tidbits can be contributed to “What’s Your Poo Telling You”, by Josh Richman and Anish Sheth, M.D., 2007).