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Peek before you flush

Posted in Personal Blog

Today I had to visit the GP to talk about stomach pains and digestive issues such as Chronic Constipation and Irritable Bowel Syndrome which got me thinking about poo. My maternal Grandmother had bowel cancer resulting in a large section of her bowel being removed and a colostomy being formed (who we named Rudolph).  
Ever since then I have been meticulous about checking my waste matter.  I have also suffered for years from intermittent diarrhoea and constipation, taken on and off laxatives before discovering Aloe Vera Gel drinks.  They taste pretty rank initially but surprisingly your taste buds soon adjust and it becomes almost, but not quite, a nice taste.  Since taking it myself and feeling the benefit of a more normal evacuation cycle I now have my youngest two daughters on it (as both have irritable bowel) and found it has helped them too.  From this discovery I joined the FLP company as an independent distributor which has perks in allowing me to buy all the products we use at cost price. However, we do still have bouts during periods of illness when it all goes off kilter again – but by monitoring it we can usually pre-empt any major blockages or problems.
You can tell so much about your health just by checking out your faecal matter.
 Okay, so here are some poo facts: –
  • Your poo should be a healthy shade of brown.  If it is a shade of green this could mean that you gastro~intestinal (G.I.) tract issue and should get it checked out at your GP.
  • Again, back to colour ~ varying shades of brown are normal, but if it has a greyish~whitish hue this could indicate bile duct blockage or liver disease.  Black stools could indicate internal bleeding somewhere in the G.I. tract, so again, if you have any of these pop across to your GP to get checked out.
  • If you have any blood around your anus or red poo don’t panic ~ if you have some small bleeding first take a look and see if you have any haemorrhoids (either internal or external) as straining or a constipated stool could cause these to bleed a little and it’s harmless, don’t worry ~ but once again, pop to your GP just to be safe as could be an indication of possible G.I. bleed, diverticulitis or colon cancer.  If it is haemorrhoids it does no harm to get them checked and have advice on how to care for them and whether an operation to remove them is applicable.  NOTE: don’t panic if you have eaten beetroot and then see a red purplish poo ~ that’s just colouring from the beetroot coming out in your poop!
  • Ghost poo ~ when you feel the urge to go, sit on the toilet, pushing and straining all to no avail.  This is a good indication that you are constipated.  Try eating more fibre in your diet and drink more water.
  • Is it a floater? Don’t worry, it is just an indicator that perhaps you ought to tweak your diet to make it a little healthier as it tends to be a sign of a poor diet.
  • But if your poo is a floater AND smelly (as in foul) and greasy this could indicate that there is fat in your poo and again a G.I. tract issue, usually the liver or colon and that your body is having trouble digesting fats.
  • The average person deposits approximately 450g or roughly a pound of poo per day.  So it doesn’t really matter how many times you go so long as it is routine for you, so once or three times a day or three times per week, if it’s your norm then that’s okay.
  • How should it look?  A healthy normal poo should be smooth, easy to pass without straining, and formed into a nice sausage shape.  If you have a loose or watery poo you could have a bacterial infection or allergy.  Hard poo could indicate lack of fluid and fibre in the diet.
  • Watch out for overly thin snake like poos as this could indicate that you have a contracted sphincter due to excessive straining, or a more serious colon blockage.
  • Remember: there is NO PERFECT POO, everyone’s poop is different, the shape, size and time of deposit of your poo depends on your diet, whether you have any infections or allergies, and stress.   All these above points are considerations should you have an abnormal poop for you.
Some fun facts about your poop!
  1. 75% of your bowel movement is made up of water.
  2. The remaining 25% is made up from fibre, both dead and live bacteria, other cells and mucous – there is also a gel like substance in it which is formed from soluble fibres from foods such as bean and nuts which form this gel when broken down during digestion.
  3. The reason why carrots, sweetcorn and similar foods appear almost intact in your poop is because they are harder for your body to digest.
  4. Beetroot colours poo red/purple, lots of leafy veggies can cause green poo & some medications white or clay coloured and black from iron supplements BUT the changes in colour could also be due to more serious matters, so if in doubt get your GP to check it out.
  5. The “perfect” if there could be one, poo would be log like and a continuous S shape.  The trick to getting this “perfect poo” is to eat plenty of fibre which bulks out the poo and acts like a glue to keep it together.  Be worried if it is thin and pencil like though as could be an indication of rectal cancer.
  6. Poo doesn’t smell sweet, no matter how healthy BUT a particularly pungent one could mean infection is present, so again, get it checked out.
  7. Digestion takes anything from 24 to 72 hours.
  8. Diarrhoea is the result of the poo passing too quickly through the large intestine (which is where most of the water is absorbed when passed through at the normal rate). Constipation occurs when it takes too long to pass through the large intestine and therefore too much water is absorbed making the stool hard and dry.
  9. Your poo should sink.  Floating poo should be investigated as could be indication of fatty stools and disease/allergies/intolerances.
  10. Parping/farting/bottom coughs/flatulence ~ whatever you call it is NORMAL and healthy.  It is caused by the bacteria breaking down the food in your large intestine and the gas is a by~product of this process.  Some of this gas is absorbed by the body into the bloodstream and passed into the lungs which is then exaled, the rest is passed as flatulence. It is normal to pass wind between 10 to 18 times a day.
  11. You can have a faecal transplant IT’S TRUE and THEY WORK!  Scientists have found that faecal transplants (where stools from a healthy person are placed into the colon of an infected one) help cure bouts of chronic diarrhoea for people suffering from illnesses such as C~Difficile bacteria infection.  They have also helped people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome too.
  12. Reading on the toilet isn’t a good idea, the longer you sit on there the longer you are putting pressure on your anal area and reducing blood flow which can cause haemorrhoids. 
If you struggle to get enough fibre in your diet a great tip (one we use) is to buy a bag of bran and sprinkle it on your cereal, in your smoothie, over your veggies ~ because it’s so fine you can’t taste it and it’s a great way to top up your fibre.  We also have sports bottles which we fill and keep topped up to make it easier to keep our fluid intake up.
So next time you take a visit to the toilet, take a look before you flush!
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