Five-point plan for the perfect poop
And now for everyoneís favourite subject Ö Well, over here at Natural HQ, the digestive detox is under way.
We have 50 people taking part in a clean sweep, so they are all busy drinking green juice and taking psyllium husk.
Thereís a lot more to it of course (and you should never supplement blindly), but I kept it as simple as I could. It takes significant effort to ditch the self-sabotaging habits from the Christmas season, but gosh itís worth doing.
Taking the time to detox from sugar, caffeine and excessive booze pays off in a major way when it comes to energy, weight and skin health ó and thereís some seriously good bathroom-related benefits too!
Donít pretend youíre not interested. Almost everyone is fascinated with this little subject, although apologies if you are reading this while eating your breakfast ...
When Iím teaching nutrition classes, thereís always one subject that gets everyoneís attention: perfect poop.
The holy grail of the constipated masses, the standard to which we all aspire and yet regularly fall short.
Heartburn, bloating, irritable bowel ó so many of us suffer from bathroom imperfection and it can make life a little bit miserable when we do.
Humans are pretty terrible propers. We have so many things that can and do go wrong and yet, how often do we see animals with the same afflictions? Constipated elephants or giraffes with diarrhoea? (Oh my god thatís a horrifying thought.) As a general rule. it doesnít happen because animals are eating the diet that nature intended.
Imagine giving a baby bunny Doritos for dinner or a Pop-Tart for breakfast, it seems wrong doesnít it? We know that, so why do we do it? Weíre animals too after all.
Somewhere along the line, we forgot that weíre not invincible. There must be something about putting a man on the moon or mapping out DNA that makes humans overlook this basic point ó that the food we eat provides the building blocks for our physical condition as well as our intellect. If we eat badly, then ultimately, weíll perform badly. And weíll poop badly too!
So what counts as pooping badly? Without going into the kind of detail that will make you spit out your coffee, letís clarify. Itís probably easier to discuss what counts as pooping well.
Medical opinion varies, but most health professionals will say that if youíre producing whatís normal for you without pain or bleeding, then youíre all good (regardless of timing or gaps between ďdeliveryĒ). From a nutritional therapy perspective, we would say that you need to be producing one ďbanana-shapedĒ poop at least once a day. That small point at the end? Thatís perfection right there. It indicates youíve efficiently eliminated. If itís a little blunt then you might have hurried yourself or experienced some kind of internal hold-up.
That banana needs to be easy to produce too. No leaving the bathroom with tears in your eyes or with a swagger in your step. Straining never led to anything good!
So, what do you do if youíre not pooping on the regular? Firstly, youíve got to clean up your act in an obvious way. Deep-fried, sugary, hyper-processed foods have no place in your diet. Take it easy on the caffeine and alcohol as well. Remember if it isnít good for an animal, then it probably isnít good for you. And then you can layer in these five steps below, too.
We took it to another level on the detox, but these will take you a long way. (Remember to talk to your doctor if you experience any sudden, lasting changes, or any pain or bleeding. Donít put your head in the sand, itís likely to be something straightforward; itís just always important to check!)
Five simple steps for a clean sweep
Letís not overlook the obvious. If youíre dehydrated your poop will be too. Six to eight big glasses is usually enough. Best spaced out and mainly in between meals. Sparkling water, Ultima Replenisher (Supermart), herbal teas and the occasional fresh green juice are also acceptable methods of hydrating.
Five-a-day has had a makeover. It was quite honestly a bare minimum. Ideally, you will aim a little higher than that and itís easier than you think. Berries with breakfast, carrots with hummus for a snack, a large salad at lunch (counts as two servings), fruit (with nuts) in the afternoon and then two green veg with dinner. Maybe a few more berries or kiwi afterwards, as long as your evening meal was light on carbs. That would get you to nine!
Fruit and vegetables are packed with gentle fibre that prevents constipation. They are also full of anti-ageing and immune-boosting antioxidants too. Hooray!
3, Oats, brown rice and quinoa
You might have heard that high-fibre cereals are good for relieving constipation, but I would give wheat-based versions a skip. These tend to be a little abrasive and can make constipation more likely to recur.
However, oats, brown rice and quinoa provide really great wholegrain goodness and they are gentle on the GI tract too. Aim to have at least one of these each day. If you have a sensitive stomach, I suggest you soak the quinoa (two hours) before you rinse it well and then cook it. This removes the enzyme inhibitors which can aggravate some people.
This is an incredibly simple breathing technique that helps to calm your nervous system. If you can, do it before you eat to minimise the kind of stress that interrupts digestion.
Close your eyes, do a big exhale and then: 1) breathe in for a count of four (through your nose), 2) hold for a count of seven and 3) exhale for a count of eight. Repeat this four times.
5, The Squatty Potty
Iíll post the video that explains this phenomenon to Facebook today. Basically, we didnít evolve to poop at a 90-degree angle! We evolved to poop squatting and our whole system is still designed that way.
Placing your feet on a step in front of the toilet helps to manoeuvre you into a squatting position while also retaining your dignity (kinda!). Thereís an actual invention, the Squatty Potty, which has been designed to fit around a toilet to do just that. Gorhamís and Masters have been spotted with them. Itís a hilarious idea, but ridiculously effective. Try it!
ē Catherine Burns is a fully qualified nutritional therapist trained by the Institute for Optimum Nutrition in the UK. For details: natural.bm, 236-7511 or, on Facebook, Natural Nutrition Bermuda