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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,

    Why should you ditch gluten?

    ‘Gluten’ is a word that most of us in this day and age are familiar with. Comedians love the subject, bakeries proudly offer gluten free options, and the label ‘gluten-free’ is greatly sought after. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. We all knew whole wheat products as being a part of the food pyramid and a staple of our diets, yet now we are being told to be wary of it- why is this?

    Celiac disease (CD) is an autoimmune condition in which the body attacks its own small intestine in the presence of gluten. Gluten’s protein structure (gliadin) is very similar to that of our small intestine’s enzymes (transglutaminase), so the immune system gets confused. The problem with this is that the small intestine is where our bodies absorb the majority of nutrients from food. The other problem is that the small intestine is where 70-80% of our immune system resides. With the small intestine damaged, the body begins to become nutrient deficient and inflamed. This results in a wide range of symptoms and long-term complications.

    Symptoms of celiac disease can involve gastrointestinal symptoms associated with malabsorption, including:

    • Diarrhea
    • Steatorrhea (oily stool)
    • Weight loss
    • Failure to thrive

    It can also involve non-gastrointestinal symptoms such as:

    • Iron deficiency
    • Aphthous stomatitis (canker sores)
    • Chronic fatigue
    • Short stature
    • Reduced bone density
    • Tingling/Numbness
    • Headaches
    • Brain fog / Mental clarity problems
    • Anxiety / Depression

    Sensitivities to gluten used to be considered relatively rare and were not a major concern until recent decades. Rates of these sensitivities have been steadily increasing during this time period. Celiac disease has increased in frequency by 7.5% per year over the last 30 or so years according to this 2020 meta-analysis. The regions studied were in Europe, North America, and Oceania. From this data, we know that the average annual rates of diagnosis are as follows: 7.8 per 100,000 men, 17.4 per 100,000 women, and 21.3 per 100,000 children. The majority of those affected by celiac disease are clearly women and children.

    One does not need to have celiac disease in order to be affected by gluten. While only 1% of the United States population has a diagnosis of CD, recent studies show that up to 6% of the population may be affected by non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS). Symptoms of NCGS can include:

    • Abdominal pain
    • Bloating
    • Altered bowel function
    • Fatigue
    • Headache
    • Joint or bone pain
    • Mood disorders
    • Skin manifestations such as rash or eczema
    • Leaky gut / Intestinal permeability

    Nailing down gluten as the culprit for these symptoms can be difficult. The symptoms can occur up to days after ingesting gluten, making it hard to make the connection between them. These symptoms may also be related to other gastrointestinal conditions. Do you experience any number of the symptoms discussed in this article? You may be sensitive to gluten or a related ingredient. Fill out the form at the bottom of this page so we can begin tackling your health goals together.

    The Celiac Disease Foundation estimates that 2.5 million Americans are living with undiagnosed celiac disease, leaving them vulnerable to developing long-term complications. Due to the genetic nature of the disease, those with a first-degree relative (parent or sibling)  living with celiac have a 1 in 10 risk of also developing it.

    So, why are the rates of gluten sensitivity rising so rapidly? There are a number of theories, and they are all regarding environmental factors. Given the rate of increase, this dramatic change in CD could not be caused by genetics, though it does require a genetic predisposition (HLA DQ 2/8). Environmental factors affect how our genes are expressed through a process called ‘epigenetics’. All autoimmune disorders have a genetic component, yet they are ultimately triggered through an environmental exposure of some sort. The rates of all autoimmune disorders have been increasing along with celiac.

    What is fascinating is that 60% of those who went on a GF diet for an entire year did not recover their gut health!  This should not come as a surprise because removing the trigger does not stop the inflammatory and autoimmune process.  This is why functional medicine shines!  Working with someone who can determine your other triggers and use diet and supplements to wind down the immune system is a step above just going gluten free.  If you have gone gluten free but you are still struggling there is hope!  Don’t give up. We have seen great transformations by taking your efforts one step further.  

    Do you want to assess your risk of developing Celiac and determine if you have a gluten sensitivity/wheat allergy? Contact our office by filling out the form at the bottom of this page.