As a guide, anything other than a consistent Type 3 or 4 can be an indicator that something’s up in there. While it may sound crude, your poo is one of the most immediate and direct feedback mechanisms you have for how healthy you are internally. Pay attention.
Stool frequency: bowel movements should be 1-2 x per day. Comfortable to pass, and ideally no toilet paper required.
Higher frequency bowel movements can indicate hyper-motility of the gut – meaning the body moves food through too quickly, not allowing adequate absorption of nutrients. This condition may be symptomatic of additional gut damage and adrenal stress, causing the bowels to evacuate.
Lower frequency indicates the body is having trouble moving food through the system. This can occur with the removal of ‘abrasive fibre’ from the diet (e.g. bread, pasta, and other gluten-containing foods.) A common misconception is that you should add an abrasive fibre supplement back into the diet (like psyillium husk or commercial products like metamucil.) Abrasive fibre works like a metal scourer through your insides, pushing and cleaning everything through. The problem with this is that it damages the GI tract, and can become addictive. The more work is done for your body via an abrasive fibre source, the less work it has to do to move food through the system. It gets lazy. So when we remove abrasive fibre, initially the gut has to try and remember how to do it’s job properly. Instead of an abrasive fibre supplement, you may want to look into why the gut is having issues moving food through properly, consider an appropriate gut healing protocol, or go for a non-abrasive fibre supplement like SuperFibre or SunFibre.
Food remnants in the bowl: do you often see the bits and pieces of stuff you ate last night, or even a couple of days ago end up in the toilet? Be wary. That means it’s not being digested by your body – it either doesn’t want it, or can’t actually break it down. In either case, ingesting an indigestible food is only going to irritate the lining of your gut and cause other foods to be malabsorbed. Take note of the specific foods that have this effect on you (hint: tomato skins, corn, too many nuts, even overload on greens can do it). It may not be that your inherently intolerant to a specific food, but it may mean you’ve simply overloaded on it or you have further gut damage preventing you from digesting it. Avoid those foods for a while, then re-test, one at a time later on.
Bloating, burping, wind and flatulence: do you experience any bloating or ‘airy’ feelings after meals? What about at other times of the day? Bloating, burping or wind in response to food generally represents an inability to break something down. When that happens, the undigested food moves through into the small, then large intestine where it putrefies and/or is attempted to be eaten by gut bacteria (mmm… yummy). These bacteria then produce by-products -effectively, bug poo, known as MUCs, or medically undesirable compounds. These are endotoxins, and must be processed and eradicated from the body via detoxification processes involving the liver and kidneys. An overload in indigestible foods leads to more bacteria, increased endotoxin, loading on the liver, often resulting in toxicity in the body. Build up of toxicity subsequently contributes to a whole boatload of hormonal imbalances down the chain.
Cramps: similar to above, stomach cramping can indicate an inability to breakdown a particular food. It can also indicate your body’s reaction to an irritant in the system.
Energy spikes or wake ups in the evening can represent an increase in immune activity, often in response to a food intolerance or irritation from earlier in the day (amongst other things). If you find yourself jazzed up in the evening, or having disturbed sleep, it may be a gut issue.