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What Can Your Poo Tell You?

Every human body is different in so many ways, but one thing we all have in common is poop! Pooping is something every living creature on this planet must do in order to stay alive and healthy. The process of defecation means the discharge of feces from the body. Poop is the left-over waste in our system after all of the nutrients of our food have been absorbed (or so we hope). It’s vital for our health that we are properly eliminating these toxins, otherwise they get reabsorbed into our system. There’s a delicate balance that happens in our body based on fiber consumption, hydration, and muscle motility (determined by healthy brain function) that deter-mines how our bowel movements might appear and how often you’ll pass them.

What is a normal poo?

There are many sizes, shapes, and colors your stool can be and all of them tell us different things about our health. Consistency is key: whether you’re having one or two bowel movements every day, you still want to make sure they are healthy! The Bristol Stool Chart is a helpful reference point to guarantee your bowel movements are where they should be.

According to The Bristol Stool Chart, the seven types of stool are:

•Type 1: Separate hard lumps, like nuts (hard to pass

•Type 2: Sausage-shaped, but lumpy

•Type 3: Like a sausage but with cracks on its surface

•Type 4: Like a sausage or snake, smooth and soft

•Type 5: Soft blobs with clear cut edges (passed easily)

•Type 6: Fluffy pieces with ragged edges, a mushy stool

•Type 7: Watery, no solid pieces, entirely liquid

Types 1–2 indicate constipation, types 3–5 are considered to be ideal, normal poops (especially 4), and types 6–7 are considered abnormal and indicate diarrhea.

The color (and even smell!) of your stool can tell you things about it as well. Colors can range from a medium brown, black, green, red, or even yellow/gray. Here’s a list of what some of these might say about what’s going on inside your body:

  • Medium to dark brown: Normal!
  • Black: Can mean there is upper GI bleeding going on. If this continues for 2-3 poops, consult with your doctor.
  • Green: Can be a sign that your stool is moving too quickly through your digestive tract. Vegetables like spinach, kale, blueberries, or green supplement powders can show up in your stool without enough fiber to slow down the digestive process.
  • Red/Purple: Can be a result of eating deeply colored vegetables like beets, but if you haven’t eaten anything of this color, you should reach out to your doctor (could be as simple as a hemorrhoid or something else).
  • Yellow/Gray: Typically a sign of mucous, or bile, in the stool which can mean an issue with the liver or gallbladder.

What might be causing problems?

There are many reasons why you might not be eliminating properly! Constipation and diarrhea can result from stress, dehydration, lack of fiber, too much alcohol or caffeine, inflammation, or autoimmune disease. Dysbiosis is an “imbalance” in the gut microbial community and can mean that the bad bacteria in your digestive system has overgrown the good. This can cause bacterial over-growth, like SIBO, resulting in constipation, gas, bloating, food intolerances, and nutritional deficiencies.

Food sensitivities may be one of the most common, yet overlooked reasons for change in bowel movements. If you find your pattern flip flopping this could be IBS, but in reality there may be a chronic food sensitivity that you are unaware of! Foods like gluten and dairy are potentially inflammatory to your body and this may be causing either constipation (from bacterial overgrowth) or diarrhea (body needs to get it out fast!). At Dr. Autoimmune, we will help you determine any food sensitivities you may have so you can drop that inflammation and get this common leaky gut trigger removed. Without fully getting your diet dialed in to what you need, it may be impossible to have normal gut function.

Consistent bowel movements are a way to avoid dysbiosis and potential disease. Keep a look out for changes in your stool to help you stay aware of what’s going on inside your body. Fiber (vegetables, people!) and hydration might be two easy additions to your routine that could help you stay regular AND stay healthy! If you have tried all of the tricks and are still suffering, this is where functional medicine shines! Dr. Ian and our nutritionist are trained to pick up on these abnormal patterns and help you find the root cause of abnormal poo!

If you’d like to get started, fill out the form below and we’ll reach out shortly. We look forward to working with you to help you reach your health goals. We have a very comprehensive stool analysis that all of our clients complete because of just how important gut health is.

May the (good) poo be with you,

Ian Hollaman DC, MSc, IFMCP

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    where functional medicine shines! Dr. Ian and our nutritionist are trained to pick up on these ab-normal patterns and help you find the root cause of abnormal poo!May the (good) poo be with you,

    Caffeine Percolates Cortisol

    Caffeine is the most widely used psychoactive stimulant drug on the planet. It is addictive, so the body and brain begin to rely on the feeling that caffeine can provide. Although there are some benefits to drinking caffeine (most actually come from the polyphenols found in coffee beans or tea leaves), there are also negative side effects. When dealing with autoimmune disease, it’s likely the brain is already in a state of fight or flight and the effect caffeine has on the body will make that stress worse. Caffeine is known to increase the body’s levels of cortisol, “the stress hormone,” which can lead to other health consequences like anxiety, weight gain, depressed mood, lowered beneficial bacteria in the gut, and even diabetes.

    Why do we want to avoid excess stress hormones?

    In order to decrease inflammation in the body and reduce autoimmune symptoms, it’s vital to avoid stress as much as possible. Excess stress hormones can keep our body on high alert and our immune system active. High levels of cortisol can also affect our blood sugar. “Under stressful conditions, cortisol provides the body with glucose by tapping into protein stores via gluconeogenesis in the liver. This energy can help an individual fight or flee a stressor. However, elevated cortisol over the long term consistently produces glucose, leading to increased blood sugar levels,” (Today’s Dietician).  If you are consuming caffeine throughout the day, you may be elevating those stress hormones and impacting your immune system. 

    The Role of Cortisol & Sleep

    Cortisol is an essential hormone we need in order to live, have energy, stay alert, and stay motivated in our lives. Although we describe it as the “stress hormone,” it does have an important role in our body. When testing our hormones, cortisol levels should be at our highest in the morning and slowly lower throughout the day. When our body is stressed, those levels of cortisol are consistently high, which can cause a number of health issues. The gradual decrease in cortisol each day is what helps us feel relaxed in the evening in order to get proper sleep. Caffeine at any time of the day, for someone already dealing with chronic stress, can contribute to those high levels of cortisol in the evening making it very difficult to sleep.

    It’s important to get seven to nine hours of sleep in order for our body to properly detoxify and heal. High levels of cortisol can contribute to insomnia throughout the evening that keeps you from getting into deep levels of restorative sleep.  You need to ask yourself a few questions before buying that quad shot in the dark:

    1) Do you feel anxious, jittery or “jacked up” from consumption of caffeine? 

    2) Do you get lightheaded, especially coming from seated to standing after caffeine consumption?

    3) Do you notice fluctuations in blood sugar symptoms such as irritability, fatigue or craving of sugar with caffeine consumption? 

    These symptoms may be byproducts of caffeine consumption, or at the very least they may be from excessive consumption or consuming this chemical later in the day.   

    Products to help you transition to caffeine-free:

    • Rasa: Here at Dr. Autoimmune, we have an herbal adaptogenic beverage called Rasa that supplies that boost of energy you may need to get you going in the AM or PM without the stressful side effects. Adaptogens are herbs that protect you from stress rather than create more of it. Right now we are offering 15% off all Rasa products, so stop by our office to grab a bag before the promotion ends!
    • Headache Soother Tincture: Withdrawals are possible when quitting caffeine without slowly reducing it over time. If it’s important to quit quickly, there are tinctures we can provide to aid in symptoms like headaches or fatigue.
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