Believe it or not, stool is one of the most important indicators of health!
Good health begins in the Gut! We know that 75-80% of your immunity starts in the GI tract and we know a healthy gut with normal function is imperative for a strong immune system and optimal utilization of nutrients from food.
So what is a normal??
….and remember, just because it is normal for you, does not make it healthy.
At minimum you should be having a bowel movement at least once per day. In an ideal situation you should be eliminating after every meal.
Each bowel movement should be approximately the size of a banana in length and width. With a full meal the stool should measure 8-12 inches in length and 1.5-2 inches in diameter. If the stool is long and narrow it can be indicative of clogged colon.
Healthy stool is the texture/consistency of a ripe banana. This means that it is easy to defecate (without straining) and it is formed, breaking easily as it enters the toilet. You shouldn’t be able to see remnants of yesterday’s food in your stool. If you are seeing pieces of food it means you aren’t chewing enough. A lot of digestion begins by mechanical breakdown of food in your mouth, without that initial step it becomes more difficult for the remained of your GI tract to do their jobs for adequate absorption.
The color should be dark brown, similar to the color of milk chocolate. Light/green colored stool could represent that your body is having trouble breaking down fats. Dark stools could be indicative of internal bleeding.
Your stool should smell similar to whatever yesterday’s meal was. If stools become foul smelling it indicates that it may be taking too long for the food to process, so it is beginning to rot within your system before it is eliminated.
It should take food between 12 and 18 hours from the time it enters your mouth until the time it is eliminated. Transit time plays a very important role in the health of your GI Tract because it allows food to pass and be absorbed correctly. If food lingers too long in the intestines or colon it can result it greater health concerns such as leaky gut syndrome and Candida overgrowth. You hear doctors and other health associations talk a lot about insoluble fiber because it’s job is to ensure a healthy transit time, to fully cleanse the intestines of waste products for elimination.
There are a couple of at home tests you can do to determine your transit time.
- Eat corn and record how long it takes until you see it at the other side
- Eat beets and record when you see similar coloring on the other side
- Eat chlorophyll and record when you see dark green coloring on the other side
Often times digging a little deeper into what the stool can tell us is a key component in cases of unexplained acne, gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation and IBS. A stool sample can tell us so much about what is going on inside the body. It will show us if there is a Bacteria, Candida, or Parasitic infection. It can show us if there is an antibody present for food allergies such as Gluten or Dairy. Stool can also help us determine if you are suffering from leaky gut syndrome. Leaky gut syndrome is a proposed condition of an altered or damaged bowel lining caused by increased permeability of the gut wall resulting from toxins, poor diet, parasites, infection, or medications. The leaky gut then allows substances such as toxins, microbes, undigested food, waste, or larger than normal macromolecules leak through an abnormally-permeable gut wall into the blood stream.
Symptoms of Leaky gut include:
- Gastrointestinal complaints: Abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, gas, indigestion, heartburn
- Neurological disturbances: Aggressive behavior, anxiety, confusion, fuzzy or foggy thinking (brain fog), mood swings, nervousness, poor memory
- Breathing troubles: Shortness of breath, asthma
- Other symptoms: Poor immunity, recurrent bladder infections, recurrent vaginal infections, skin rashes, bed-wetting, chronic joint pain, chronic muscle pain, fatigue
If you or a loved one has any of the above unexplained issues, it may be time to take a look at what’s going on inside the GI system!