Best You Nutrition is a no judgement zone. You ate a pizza to yourself last night? Tell me. You drink pop every day? Let’s talk. You haven’t had a vegetable yet this week? I got you. In order for me to help my clients, I have to know what they are eating so we can find solutions to their health concerns and make each day healthier. And with this, at times, comes uncomfortable moments and conversations. So, let’s talk about your poop!

I specialize in digestive health, and with a toddler, and a big dog… poop is part of my life. I am really comfortable talking about it because it is such a key indicator to let us know what is happening inside our bodies. It takes some getting used to, but after a few weeks, my clients warm up and speak more openly about this, and other things that are happening with their bodies. I love this because it shows me that they feel comfortable with me, but more importantly, they are feeling more comfortable with their own body and understanding how it works.

One of the problems I find is that our doctor’s don’t talk to us about this topic. When was the last time your doctor asked you what your bowel movements were like during a regular check-up? If you’re like most people, never.

So, what IS normal when we talk about bowel movements? You should be having one to two poops per day, every day, that are easy to pass, well-formed and about 12 inches long. If this is not happening, we need to figure out why and fix the root cause of the issue.

Other than regular bowel movements there are other tell-tale signs that our digestive system needs a little bit of tender loving care. These are the top six health concerns I hear from clients all the time that can be directly tied to your gut health.

  1. Irregular bowel movements. As noted above, these should be happening one to two times per day, every day, and should be easy to pass, well-formed and about 12      inches long. If you are going more than two times per day, that too can be an issue. I have had clients who are going only one or two times per week, some going only one or two times a month, and some who are going six times a day. Because this has always been ‘their normal’ they don’t see it as a cause of concern. I’m telling you — it is. We need to regulate things by getting to the root of the issue.
  2. Energy ups and downs. When I hear that clients are getting eight hours of restful sleep every night but are still feeling exhausted, the first thing I think of is digestive issues. In order for our energy to be balanced, our gut health has to be in good shape.
  3. Always getting sick. 70% of our immune system is created in our digestive system. We need to have a strong immune system in order to fight off the common cold, flu, virus and eventually chronic disease. If your digestive system is not working as efficiently and effectively as possible, your immune system will weaken and you will get sick more often.
  4. If you have spoken to your doctor or a specialist about chronic constipation, and their advice to you has been to take a laxative without asking you about your nutrition at all, this is a major cause for concern. If you have had a scope or colonoscopy, and everything has come back clean and clear, the food that you are eating, or not eating, is causing your constipation. Eating more fiber is not going to solve the problem as the high-fiber foods will just get ‘stuck’ behind whatever is already ‘stuck’ in there constipating you! You need to get things moving, and relying on laxatives daily or weekly is not a solution. Determining what is constipating you, what foods are going to get your bowels moving, and keep you moving, is the real solution.
  5. Skin condition or flare ups. I see so often when people concentrate on healing their gut, their skin improves. When a client has a condition such as psoriasis or eczema, or chronic rashes or hives, when we focus on getting their digestive system on track, these skin conditions improve every single time. Understanding what foods cause skin flare ups, and what foods help reduce inflammation, is really important.
  6. Long-term antibiotics as a child or adult. Now let me be very clear – antibiotics can save your life. I am not suggesting that people not take antibiotics. That said, they are sometimes overprescribed. I can’t tell you how many adult women with major digestive issues in their 30’s, 40’s and 50’s, tell me that they were on antibiotics all the time as a kid. Or that they had to be on antibiotics for three months (or longer) in the last five years. The issue is that antibiotics kill ALL the bacteria in our bodies – the good and the bad. The bad make us sick, but the good keep us healthy! For every 10 days of antibiotics, it takes anywhere from 30 — 60 days for your good bacteria to re-populate. And if you are on them back to back…to back, it takes even longer. Without good bacteria in our digestive system, we are very prone to symptoms include gas, bloating, upset stomach, constipation, IBS, diarrhea and so much more. If this is you, it is really important to understand how to reinoculate your digestive system after antibiotics.

It is not all gloom and doom. Everything in our entire body is so inter-connected. Your digestive issues might come out as fatigue or hives, and you didn’t know it. But knowing is the first step to healing your body to a HEALthier version of you.