Are we seriously going to do a deeper dive into poop right now? You bet!
Your food takes a journey through your digestive tract and the bowel movement is it’s last stop. It is what’s left after your digestive system absorbs all the nutrients and fluid from your food and drinks. It’s an important piece of detoxification. Observing the shape, texture, size, smell, frequency, and even color of your poop can can help understand overall digestion and health. Over time you may uncover other chronic problems such as: IBS (Irritable bowel syndrome), Crohn’s disease, Colitis, Celiac disease, and even Colon Cancer.
My Personal Journey: I recently admitted that my gut health was more debilitating and anxiety provoking than even my chronic pain. I got very good at hiding my pain, but the one thing I couldn’t hide from others was me racing to the bathroom, my back and forth trips to the bathroom, my anxiety over making sure a bathroom was close by, and then there were times I didn’t eat anything at lunches with friends because I was afraid it would upset my stomach. It was grueling, embarrassing, and intrusive. I’ve also had friends pass away from Colon Cancer in their early 40s. They never addressed ongoing gut symptoms with their providers and the Cancer was found in it’s very late stage. So, if you see me standing on a soapbox talking about tracking your poop you understand why. My continued trainings with Dr. Terry Wahls has also helped me understand more of the science of the microbiome. She encourages all her patients track their poop! Sometimes food tracking can be overwhelming. You can always skip and see how your bowel movements are going.
The Bristol Stool Chart or Bristol Stool Scale is a way to talk about shapes and types of poop with your doctor. It’s also known as the Meyers Scale. Ken Heaton, MD, from the University of Bristol, developed the chart in 1997 with the help of 66 volunteers. They changed their diets, swallowed special marker pellets, and kept a diary about their bowel movements: weight, shape, and how often they went.
The chart is designed to help doctors measure the time it takes for food to pass through your body and leave as waste. The shape and form of your poop may also point your doctor toward a diagnosis of some digestive problems. The ideal stool is generally type 3 or 4, easy to pass without being too watery. If yours is type 1 or 2, you’re probably constipated. Types 5, 6, and 7 tend toward diarrhea.