Saturday, December 1, 2012

Let's Talk about Pooping!

Warning, this post openly discusses poop. This may cause extreme giggling, discomfort or disgust. Read at your own risk.

Good, healthy defecation is a great keystone to optimal health. You don't need to know all the details, but when stuff sits in there, it isn't pretty. Yuck!

A good place to start that quandry is to giggle about it. I live with two young girls who REALLY enjoy giggling about poop, and I like to giggle about it with them. This may help you get comfortable with the idea of thinking about it. The second step is: Don't be afraid of poop. "Everybody Poops" after all. If you can, finding someone to talk about it with can be liberating and revealing. You can ask them how many times a day they poop, whether or not they get constipated... etc. Giggle about it together, if you want.

Think about how much you put in, and how much comes out the other end. This is a simple and straightforward way to spearhead the inner discussion of "Am I pooping enough?" Here are some more questions to start you off with: Am I a consistent pooper (is there a typical consistency/ time)? When do I most often poop? Is it difficult for me to poop (must I push)?  Does my poop often smell terrible? Do I poop at least once a day?

The best poop situation possible would be to poop at least once a day (after meals or in the morning are the most common), though two or three times is great too.. The feces should be well formed (not watery, not hard), it should come out with ease, and it shouldn't smell too bad.

Here are some tips to avoid/ remediate constipation:

1. Water
In my experience, drinking water is the single best way to prevent and treat constipation. Especially in the morning, when a good bowel movement is the most likely, drink a whole glass of water upon waking, long before you eat your first food. If possible, don't eat until you have your first bowel movement. Also, stay hydrated throughout the day.

2. Stress
For many technical reasons, and some basic reasons, it can be tough for stressed or tense people to poop. Some people swing the other way when they are stressed, too, but here we're talking about the plugged ones. On a basic level, tense muscles do not allow for easy passage of fecal bulk. On a more complex level, excretory capacity is reduced when stress hormones are out and about in the body. Escaping from life-threatening monster is not a good time for a good bowel movement, after all.

3. Emotional expression
Constipation often gets worse when emotions are being held in, not expressed, hidden or suppressed. For example, you're really angry at your souse or partner about something, but you don't have the confidence to share it. This can cause physical tenseness and anxiety, which can cause feces to be held in. You may find that after a good scream or cry, you are ready for action in the bathroom.

4. Food
A picture of food that doesn't like to escape your body: greasy, bready, white, rich, fatty, sticky, sugary, salty. For me, wheat foods are a big culprit in plugging the operation. The kinds of foods that would probably help unplug and keep things moving: fresh, watery, fibrous, crunchy, green, colorful, vibrant, unprocessed, wholesome. Specifically, fresh fruits and vegetables (green veggies, and raw or lightly cooked veggies), and whole grains and beans (brown rice, millet, quinoa, lentils, chickpeas, black beans).

5. Mechanical Laxatives
There are two types of natural laxatives: mechanical and chemical. Mechanical laxatives are more gentle, and more appropriate for every day use. while chemical laxatives induce muscle spasms or water concentrations changes, mechanical laxatives simply provide bulk which slides easily through inside passages and physically cleans and eliminates stuff caught in there.

6. Probiotics
I have found great results from taking probiotic supplements and probiotic foods. They can really get things moving, and increase your digestive capacity. I toot this horn a lot on this blog, for good reasons.

7. Yoga
The following squatting position (pictured below on left), in addition to being a great hip opener, is also good for facilitating a good poop.

If your heels don't reach the ground, put
something under them.
Additionally, lay on your back and bring your knee to your chest and across it, which keeping the other leg flat in the ground. Switch knees.

You could be this stoked too!
8. Squatting while Pooping
Rather than sitting (as we do in this culture), squatting is way more conducive to getting a good bowel movement in. It's how we were designed. This can be tough to figure out on a regular toilet, but building a platform or standing on your toilet seat with bare feet may work (for those more flexible.)


9. Herbal Laxatives
These should be used occasionally, when you really need it, as your body can get "Addicted". I don't think you want to lose our ability to poop naturally, so go easy on them.
   Yellow dock root
   Senna pods
   Cascara bark
You can get laxative herbal tea at your local health food store.

Good luck!