You have to get over yourself to be a health coach, not only in terms of putting your own ideas aside for the good of the client but also so that you’re open to talking about topics that one wouldn’t ordinarily raise in company. One of the big ones is Poo. Or more importantly, what your Poo is telling you about your body.
The Greeks and Romans understood all these thousands of years ago – the colour, texture and frequency of your poo can tell you a whole lot about your health!
Is your Poo green or brown, watery or pebble-like, odourless or heavily scented (if indeed scented is the right word!) There's usually a relatively simple explanation for what's going on and a solution to making it a whole lot better.
First, what is "normal" poo and what does it look like?
While "normal" bowel movements can certainly vary, they should generally follow some basic criteria. Your individual stool (or your daily poo) can range in shape from what might look like droplets of bunny poo, which probably indicates constipation, to a thick pipe (ideal), to watery, which indicates either an infection, too little fibre, or some kind of food sensitivity or reaction.
Poo can also be a number of colours depending on what you’ve been eating (which you’ll know if you've ever eaten a rather generous helping of beetroot and suddenly noticed your pee and poo have taken on a pinkish hue!). Generally most people’s poo tends to come in a shade of brown, from light to dark. Each time you go it might be a little bit different. This is because your poo reflects what you have eaten lately so if you over indulge in highly coloured foods for instance it can affect the colour of your poo.
Your poo has to travel through approx 30ft of intestinal tract before reaching the end of its journey in your body. Ideally it should be a long thin sausage shape with smooth outer edges. Using the Bristol Stool chart (devised by Bristol University) you can see what the varying shaped poos that you may do on a daily basis indicate about your health and can identify problem areas when it comes to what lands in your loo. If you see what looks like blood in your poo then you should seek medical attention. Fresh red blood could be a sign of haemorrhoids, especially if combined with pain in passing the stool, but it’s best to always get checked out.
These stools are small hard, dry lumps like nuts or rabbit droppings. They can also be quite difficult to push out! This is often a sign of constipation and can be caused by not having enough fibre, or not drinking enough liquid. It can also be because you haven’t had enough exercise. Try to eat more fibre and increase your fruits and vegetables. I try to add 30 different, fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices to my diet each week. Give it a try, it’s amazing what a difference it makes to your digestion.
These stools are large, greasy stools. Stools like this often float and are difficult to flush away! These can often make your bottom itchy too. Again, you need to be drinking lots of liquid and making sure you eat healthily. If your stools never seem to flush then it’s worth getting checked out to be sure everything is okay.
When your poo smells really bad this can be a sign of poor digestion. It means that the food is sitting in your gut for too long. Increasing your exercise can help as can increasing the fruit, vegetables and fibre you eat and cutting out on junk food!
These stools leave skid marks down your toilet. This is because they have too much sticky mucous in them. This may mean you need more fibre in your diet. Stools that leave skid marks are quite common and eating more fibre should help.
Some poo is light or more yellow-ish in colour. Lots of people do the odd pale stool. But if you find that your poo is pale a lot of the time then you should get checked out by a doctor in case of gall bladder issues.
How often do you go?
Some people poo every day, some don’t. Some people poo more than twice a day.
It’s worth remembering how the large intestine works too as the way your large intestine woks may be slightly different the way mine works. Giulia Enders explains it really well in her book Gut. “The large intestine has three sections: the ascending, transverse and descending colon. When you go to the toilet, we usually empty the large section. By the next day it has filed up again, and the game starts over again.” If you take a laxative or have an upset tummy you may empty the entire large intestine, all 3 sections, meaning it may take 3 days to refill so don’t worry if you don’t go the next day or even the day after.
But if you can’t go, or you can’t stop going go and get checked out with your doctor. And if you think your poo looks wrong in any way or it hurts to go, again get checked out.
If I can help dispel any more myths about Poo or gut health please reach out to me. It’s one of my areas of research and something I’m passionate about educating people on.