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What Your #2 is Telling You

The next time you have a bowel movement, check it out before you flush it down. Yes, really. The size, shape, consistency, and density of your poop can give you important information about your overall health.

Your gut is full (think 100 trillion!) of good bacteria. They help with digestion and play a large role in your immune system, so it’s important to keep them healthy and balanced. Your waste is one clue that will help you determine if you have a healthy gut. It’s so helpful, in fact, that practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine ask questions about their patients’ stools during every checkup.

Let’s look at what variations in your stools say about your health.

Buoyancy

Healthy poop is usually dense and sinks to the bottom of the bowl. But if your poop floats regularly, it may be a sign of malabsorption or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), especially if you’re also experiencing other symptoms such as unexplained weight loss, cramping, constipation, or bloating.

Color

Healthy poop is turned brown by the bile your liver makes to help with digestion. But if the color changes, take note.

Green? Maybe you ate a load of dark green veggies (that’s great!) or a lot of green food coloring (not so great).

Light gray or clay-colored? Could suggest your bile ducts aren’t functioning at their best.

Red? Possibly the result of a medication or red food dye, but it could also indicate bleeding in your large intestine or at your rectum from a fissure or hemorrhoid. Blood in a stool can also make it black, so if you experience this regularly, connect with your doctor.

Consistency

In an ideal world, your poop is sausage or snake-shaped, has the consistency of clay, and slides out easily.

Pellets or lumpy stools that are hard to pass indicate food is spending too long in your digestive tract. You need more water and probably more fiber.

Fluffy pieces with jagged edges can indicate that food is zipping through a bit too quick. Balance your electrolytes and see your doctor if it lasts more than a couple days.

Smell

Ok, no poop smells wonderful, but there may be times a particularly foul odor is a symptom of an infection, allergy, malabsorption, or other medical condition.

What to do next

To protect or strengthen your gut health, take a probiotic—especially if you need an antibiotic. Antibiotics kill the bad bacteria making you sick but also kill good bacteria in your gut. A probiotic will support the regrowth and maintenance of these critical microorganisms.

In addition, eat lots of dark, leafy green veggies and whole grain; reduce red meat, fried foods, and refined sugar.

It may feel awkward at first to examine your bowel movements, but give it a try, and don’t be afraid to bring up with your doctor anything that seems unusual.

Let’s get healthier, together,

Your friends at Santo Remedio

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