Understand Your Poop

28 Jan

Poop. We all do it. Excreting out waste we don’t need. While it may be a “faux paw” to talk about poop, there’s a ton of value we can extract from our poop. In this post, we are going to talk about the importance of regular bowel movements and honoring digestion, the different types of poop, and how you can improve your digestion and poops.

Regular bowel movements and honoring digestion

Digestion starts in the mouth and ends when we excrete out the waste we don’t need. So, we need to talk about the start to better understand the finish. Throughout that process, our body extracts nutrients and minerals from the food we consume to properly fuel our system. At each stage of the digestive process, we pull more and more from the food until we are left with waste. From there, we excrete it out and feel 10 times better. In an ideal world, that process would happen multiple times per day where we would excrete out waste in a healthy fashion, more on what constitutes a “healthy fashion” later. Problems arise when the challenges of life and training overwhelm our system inhibiting our ability to digest optimally in addition to poor food hygiene. For example,

Lack of chewing when eating – prevents the enzymes in the mouth from fully breaking down the food. Allows large food particles to enter the gut that can become more difficult for the stomach to breakdown allowing parasites and fungi to transition into the small intestines where the alkaline environment of the small intestine can become a feeding ground for bad bacteria.

Too much stress, or sympathetic drive, around feeding time – In order for us to optimally digest and assimilate our food, we need to be in a parasympathetic state. When we are in a parasympathetic state, we are able to secrete the necessary enzymes for digestion throughout the G.I. tract. When we are too stimulated, we can inhibit proper enzymatic activity for digestion minimizing the utility of the foods we consume. When it comes time to eat, if we are still too stimulated: sweating, anxious, preoccupied with something, on the phone,  or watching intensive television (not an exhaustive list by any means) we will limit our body’s ability to properly prepare and digest the food we consume. We will also become unconscious of what we are doing, chewing less and poorly assimilating our food.

If we improperly digest our food, we won’t be able to extract and utilize the nutrients in the food causing us to have irregular bowel movements, which can lead to malnourishment, poor performance and lack of recovery. Optimal detoxing abilities, pooping being one of them, will ensure our system keeps inflammation at bay. Keeping inflammation at bay will maximize our ability to perform and recover. This is why honoring food hygiene is one key to great digestion, and poops.

Different types of poop

Now that we understand the beginning stages of poop formation and its importance, let’s talk about the different types of poops. I’ve included a picture of the Bristol Stool Chart (see below). A tool/chart I use with my clients to help educate them on what is healthy and what is not when it comes to their poop. We will start at the top and work down the line.

Type 1:

Appearance: Hard Lumps, more compacted, harder to get out, little nuts

Overarching issue: Constipation

Potential reasons: Stress, lack fiber, low HCL secretion, poor chewing

Type 2:

Appearance: Log shaped but lumpy

Overarching issue: Mild Constipation

Potential reasons: Stress, lack fiber, low HCL secretion, poor chewing

Type 3:

Appearance: Log shaped with some cracks on the surface

Overarching issue: Gold standard; soft and easy to pass

Potential reasons: On point, great chewing

Type 4:

Appearance: Smooth and snake like

Overarching issue: Normal but not gold standard

Potential reasons: Bit more fat in the diet, not enough bile secretion (too sympathetic), poor chewing

Type 5:

Appearance: small, little blobs, that are easy to pass

Overarching issue: Mild Diarrhea

Potential reasons: Low fiber, higher fat intake and not able to break it down appropriately (which can signal too stressed/sympathetic which will impact bile secretion, fat emulsifier), poor chewing

Type 6:

Appearance: Fluffy and mushy with ragged edges

Overarching issue: Mild Diarrhea

Potential reasons: Low fiber, stress, inability to properly digest and extract nutrients from your food, poor chewing

Type 7:

Appearance: Completely watery, no solid pieces

Overarching issue: Hardcore Diarrhea

Potential reasons: Can be a stress response, food intolerance, body trying to detox as quickly as possible, no nutrient extraction taking place here

*As a side note, great chewing can fix a lot of issues

Improving your poop and digestion

First things first, you need to identify where you sit on this scale with regards to the quality and consistency of your poops. Once you have a solid idea of where you are at, it’s time to figure out what pieces we need to address to fix it. Above, I included a few pieces under each category that could be a potential culprit of the problem.

Additionally, the more holistic things we can ALL benefit from to help improve our digestion and ensure our system is set up for success:

      1. Sitting down, relaxed, not overly stimulated when eating
      2. Give yourself time between training or any other extremely engaging activity before eating food
      3. Chewing, 30+ times per bite, taste the food, allow the enzymes in your mouth to break it down
      4. Put your fork down between bites
      5. Ensure adequate fiber and vegetable consumption on a daily basis
      6. Half your bodyweight in ounces of clean water per day
      7. Minimal processed food and sugar alcohols
      8. Supplemental support; highly individualized. There are tools we can use to help improve digestion, but the foundation must always be present: great food hygiene.

While talking about your poop can make you feel awkward, don’t shy away from it. There’s a ton of insight we can collect from our poop.

While talking about your poop can make you feel awkward, don’t shy away from it. There’s a ton of insight we can collect from our poop. To reiterate;

      • Identify what your bowel movements look like
      • How often do they happen
      • Look at your diet and food intake around the times you have a bowel movement (are there specific foods that instantly trigger a bowel movement? This can be a red flag and highlight a potential food intolerance)
      • Look at your food hygiene, are you tasting your food? Are you chewing your food?
      • Look at your daily water, vegetable, and fiber intake (are you getting enough?)
      • Lastly, look at your training. If your program is not tailored for you, it could be causing unnecessary stress and inflammation on your system that you can’t recover from. This will negatively impact your ability to digest and remove waste.

Start getting to know your poop and watch your performance soar.  

Not sure where to start? Contact us about working with a coach. 

CrossFit® is a registered trademark of CrossFit, Inc. Big Dawgs' uses of the CROSSFIT® mark are not endorsed by nor approved by CrossFit, Inc., and Big Dawgs is in no way affiliated with nor endorsed by CrossFit, Inc.

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