🚽Turn around and look down. Your poop can uncover so much about your health.🧻
Regardless of what GI symptoms you are experiencing, your poop really does have all the answers. 🪠Before you jump into expensive testing and analysis, it can be helpful to take note of what patterns and clues your stool is giving to you. 🔍If you don’t know where to start in addressing your GI symptoms, this episode will help you identify the possible causes of your symptoms by teaching you what your poop is telling you about your symptoms. In my latest podcast episode, I break down exactly what to look for so that you can relieve your GI symptoms for good.
It’s time to get personal and start answering the question “what does your poop look like?”
In this episode, I will cover:
- 💩What is a normal amount of bowel movements to have each day
- 💩What should your stool look like
- 💩What happens if you stray from “normal”
- 💩How to tell if you need further testing or evaluation
- [0:10]: Your stool and the story it tells about your digestive health
- [4:24]: Stool abnormalities and GI issues
- [8:51]: Bowel health and urgency
- [12:52]: Stool color, consistency, and other health issues
- [18:44]: How your bowel movements can reveal underlying health issues
After listening, if you find this episode has been helpful, share this episode on Instagram and tag me, and tell me your biggest takeaway!
Products mentioned in this episode:
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- “Everybody poops. And if you don’t poop, then we have more serious issues that we need to address.”
- “Your gut is a muscle. So just like any other muscle in the body, it can easily get out of shape.”
- “Your digestive tract is an open system from your mouth, all the way to the exit. And so there’s a lot of things that can be off, which I just broke down for you in this episode.”
Connect with Dr. Heather
- Purchase your copy of The Healthy, Happy Gut Cookbook: Simple, Non-Restrictive Recipes to Treat IBS, Bloating, Constipation and Other Digestive Issues the Natural Way by Dr. Heather Finley on Amazon and in Barnes and Noble
- Take the free quiz to identify the root causes of your bloating.
- Listen to our secret podcast “Fix Your Gut and Love Food Again.”
- Join the GutTogether membership program and start addressing your GI issues today!
Dr. Heather Finley
Dr. Heather Finley 0:01
You need to be able to digest sugars and starches and all the components of your food to prevent nutrient deficiencies and also prevent issues with bacterial imbalances down the road later on in your gut.
Dr. Heather Finley 0:16
Hey, welcome to the love your gut podcast. I’m your host, Dr. Heather Finley, I know what you’re thinking, how am I supposed to love my gut when all it does is hold me back. I thought the same thing before I found my own relief from my own gut health issues. I dedicated my life to getting to the bottom of my own gut issues, so I can help women just like you transform theirs. Now I’m here to guide you through your own gut health journey. We do this through identifying your root causes and making sustainable and transformational changes. As a result, you can unleash your true potential. My goal is to empower you with the information and tools you need to love your guts. So it loves you back right here on this podcast.
Dr. Heather Finley 1:02
Welcome back to the next episode of the love your gut Podcast. I’m so glad that you’re here. I was laughing earlier, as I was outlining this episode, I was actually at a coffee shop. And this man that was sitting next to me decided that it would be a good idea to strike up a conversation. And I don’t think he realized what he got himself into. He leaned over and asked what I was working on. And I told him I was outlining an episode about digestive health, and specifically, what your poop says about your GI symptoms. And the look he gave me was actually hilarious. I wish that I could have that as like the episode cover. It was so funny. But it ended up actually being a really great conversation. He was telling me about his wife who had digestive issues. And, you know, it’s just so funny when these things happen. Because, like I said, I don’t think people realize what they’re getting themselves into. And they asked me questions like that. So you know, if you ever see me at a coffee shop, and you want to ask me what I’m doing, it might be kind of entertaining. But today, we are going to dig in to what your poop says about your symptoms. Because really, your poop actually has all the answers. And I know this is such a weird topic. But I just want to normalize this for a second, everybody poops. And if you don’t poop, then we have more serious issues that we need to address. And so I really hope that this episode is helpful for you. The idea behind this episode is I want it to be a guide for you on what to do next about your symptoms, because that’s really the mission here at the love your gut podcast is learning how to understand your gut so that you can love your gut. And so, by the end of this episode, you will know potentially, what could be contributing to your symptoms, and what your poop is telling you about what to do next. So lots of really actionable tips that we are going to cover in today’s episode. So the first thing that I want to talk about is something called the Bristol stool scale. If you haven’t heard of this, the Bristol stool scale is a rating system for identifying your stool. And this is something you’ve probably seen if you’ve gone to a GI doctors office, or maybe you learned about this in health class. I know I certainly didn’t. But maybe they covered this in your health class in school. But this is a way of evaluating from one to seven, what your schools look like. And, yes, this this scale does tell us quite a bit of information. But I really want to take it a step further. So this is really only step one of many steps in the process of figuring out what your poop is actually saying about your symptoms. So normal stool on the Bristol stool scale is a type four. This is a soft, easy to pass stool, you’re not straining, there’s no urgency, it is a smooth, soft blog. Sorry, again, I know this is a very weird episode, but you’re literally going to learn so much. So just stay tuned. So we really want to type for type three also can be decently normal, you know, maybe you’re just a little dehydrated that day. But I want to talk about some deviations on the lower end and the higher end of this stool scale. So we’ll link a link to the Bristol stool scale if you have no idea what I’m talking about. We’ll link it in the show notes so you can look at where you are and start to actually pay attention to your stool and what it’s telling you about your symptoms. So if you are a one to three so one being like rabbit pebbles to being like a bumpy log, and three being kind of a cracked log. Then we are airing more on the side of constipation, most likely more on the side of dehydration and and just overall things moving slower and absorption issues. So the first thing I want to dig into is the fact that your gut is a muscle. So just like every other muscle in your body, it needs to be hydrated. And part of that hydration is actually minerals, we find a lot of our clients are very mineral depleted, which is why they’re taking super high doses of magnesium, and yet, they’re still having really rock, hard, pebbly stool. And the reason for this is because minerals don’t work in isolation. So you can’t just take high doses of magnesium and not pay attention to your other minerals because they it could be throwing off the balance even more. This is why we love mineral testing, and our practice, both with our one on one clients, and in our membership as well. That’s an option for an add on. But one thing that we want to note here is that you actually need sodium to draw water to your bowels, to actually help your cells absorb the water. So if you are a product of the 90s, and you are terrified of sodium, it’s time to reevaluate that because you actually do need sodium in you know, not excessive amounts, but you do need sodium to actually help your bowels absorb water. And we find that often when we do mineral testing on our clients, their sodium is actually low. So this is one thing that we want to note. But overall, if you are dehydrated or your minerals are imbalanced, you may kind of err on the side of a type one, two or three. If you deviate on the other end of the spectrum, so a five, six or seven, this is typically indicating more loose stool, diarrhea, maybe there’s an infection of food intolerance, like lactose intolerance, certain medications, like if you’re taking low Tegrity, or Linzess, any kind of motility thing is going to speed things up and tend to loosen things. So the other thing that I’ll mention in a little bit is how sometimes diarrhea actually can indicate constipation, but we’ll get there in a second. So step one, what I want you to do is look at what number are you on this scale most often. And if you’re looking at this thinking, Well, I’m all over the place, that actually tells us a lot about what’s going on. The lack of a pattern shows us that there’s probably a lot of pieces to the puzzle. You know, you could be dealing with the most severe form of constipation, which I’ll talk about in a second, you could be dealing with mineral issues, you could be dealing with bacterial imbalances, digestive insufficiencies, etc. And so that’s where the rest of this episode is going to help you dig into some of that. So let’s talk about some specific stool abnormalities. So number one, is I want to talk about oily stool. So if you tend to have like, really sticky stool, you have to wipe a lot, it’s kind of peanut butter texture, or you see oil droplets in the toilet, we definitely want to evaluate that further. There can be issues with your pancreas, there can also be issues with fat digestion. And so really simply put, your pancreas, your liver, your gallbladder and even your stomach acid all help us to digest food in different ways. There are lots of different enzymes that are produced. And if you’re lacking certain enzymes, it will prevent you from being able to digest and absorb food properly. And so this can result in oily stool, it can also result in really peanut butter, like stool. And so we want to evaluate, okay, what digestive insufficiencies could be going on here that you know maybe contributing to the symptoms that we’re having. The next thing I want to talk about is what I was referring to earlier, the most severe form of constipation. And we actually see this a lot in our practice. I’ll have people reach out to us and they’ll say, I know you talk a lot about constipation, but do you see clients with diarrhea? And the answer is absolutely yes, we see clients with all types of GI issues, even if you’re not constipated, or you don’t have diarrhea. We also see people that have acid reflux that have gas that have burping, bloating, I mean, really, even sometimes they present with just hormonal and I say just when that’s really like a huge thing, but hormonal issues and they think, you know, my GI tract is fine, but to stay on track. So, like I said, overflow diarrhea is the most severe form of constipation. And the best analogy I can give here is if you think about your bathtub, if the drain is clogged, but the water is still running, it will overflow. And that can happen in the gut if you were very constipated. So the way that you will identify with this is let’s say that you You go days without having a bowel movement, and then you have loose stool, you may think I have diarrhea, but you actually probably have constipation. Because what we’re looking at when we are looking at what’s normal for bowel movements is we want to be going to the bathroom one to three times a day. We want smooth, soft logs, like I mentioned earlier, and you want to ultimately make sure that you are emptying your bowels every single day. If you can’t empty your bowels, then we’ve got some severe issues, and we can have a lot of backup in the gut. So sometimes we’ll get the question of well, what if I go to the bathroom three times a day? Is that better or worse than going one time a day, and nothing is better or worse than one another? What we’re really looking at is are you completely emptying your bowels? So whether that’s one time a day, or whether that’s three times a day, are you actually emptying your bowels, that’s the sign of proper bowel health. And I don’t care what your GI doctor tells you, you shouldn’t be going to the bathroom every single day. You eat every day, and you consume food every day. So you should be eliminating every single day. The next stool abnormality that I want to talk about is urgency. There can be lots of reasons for urgency, and let’s dig into them. So the first one could be from inflammation. So if you have inflammatory bowel disease, if you have inflammation in your rectum, your rectum is meant to expand and hold stool unless it is inflamed. And so if there’s inflammation in your rectum, you can have a lot of urgency because once stool hits your rectum, you will go running to the bathroom. The next reason that you could have urgency, you could be too much Motility Support. We actually see this a lot. We have clients that go to their GI doctor, they say I’m constipated, their GI doctor prescribes them mo Tegrity or lens s or something for motility. And now they’re running to the bathroom constantly. It’s just way too strong. And it’s not actually fixing the issue. So our job is to actually wean someone off of that, get them on Motility Support that actually supports their elimination in a non urgent way. And so it doesn’t cause tons of stress to their daily life. So they’re not worried about, you know, going to the bathroom while they’re driving, or while they’re at work, which all of those things can definitely happen. It also could be a stress response. This may resonate with you if you feel great. While you’re on vacation, or you feel great when you are on the weekend at home, then perhaps your urgency could be stress induced because stress hormones will cause gut contractions. So you really want to work on having a daily routine. You want to make sure that you are practicing meal hygiene that you are calming your nervous system and working on stress resiliency.
Dr. Heather Finley 13:11
I’m interrupting this episode really quick to tell you about our sponsor element. You know that I am a huge fan of minerals for gut health if you struggle with constipation, bloating, acid reflux or even poor energy. Often the best place to start is by replenishing your minerals. And as we approach the summer months, this becomes even more crucial. Minerals are the sparkplugs of our body and help us to maintain adequate hydration and that’s why I’m so excited for you to give LMNT a try. The ultimate mineral boost for your gut packed with the perfect balance of sodium, potassium and magnesium LMNT helps us to restore these essential electrolytes, ensuring that your gut stays happy and hydrated. It’s like giving your gut the fuel it needs to thrive. So here’s the exciting part. If you want to receive a free sample pack with purchase, be sure to check out the link, Dr. Heather finley.co backslash LMNT, or you can visit the link in the show notes.
Dr. Heather Finley 14:10
Now back to the episode. And then the last reason that I want to talk about related to bowel urgency is the gastro colic reflex. And this isn’t necessarily a good or bad thing. This is just a normal physiological response. But if you have urgency directly after eating, essentially what’s happening is your colon is just clearing out room for what you just ate. So you want to make sure that you are also practicing meal hygiene, you are minimizing stress around food, making sure that you’re not dehydrated and working on you know your stress response as well. The next thing I want to talk about is straining. So when we have clients that have to strain to go to the bathroom, there can be lots of different reasons for this. Number one can just be pelvic floor issues of varying degrees. So If you’re constantly straining, number one, go get a pelvic floor evaluation, this can really, really be helpful, in conjunction with working with someone on your bowel health and on your gut health to improve your symptoms. But if there is a pelvic floor issue, there’s not a whole lot that you can do, if you’re not addressing that. So definitely go find a pelvic floor PT that specializes in digestive health and constipation, that can be really helpful. The other thing that we want to look at is not completely emptying. So I mentioned this earlier when I talked about, you know, urgency and being on mo Tegrity, and being on Linzess, or any other motility, magic medication, but you want to make sure that you’re emptying your bowels every single day. So you may go to the bathroom every day. But if you’re not fully emptying, then not completely empty, and is essentially showing us that there is some kind of muscle and motility issue. And the best analogy that I can give you here is that your gut is a muscle. And so just like any other muscle in the body, it can easily get out of shape. And it can get out of shape from chronic constipation, it can get out of shape from under eating for a long period of time and your gut just not having to work as hard. It can get out of shape, in some sense from a food poisoning event that affects the nerves of your migrating motor complex. There’s lots of reasons. But we want to make sure that you are emptying your bowels every single day and that we are addressing the motility issue. The next thing that I want to talk about is blood in your stool, what’s you know, quote unquote normal and what’s not really no amount of blood in your stool is normal, but there’s definitely a scale of severity. So if you have blood in your stool, one reason could be from hemorrhoids. We see this often in our practice, usually the hemorrhoids that bleed are internal hemorrhoids. And you might not even know that they’re there. But you definitely want to get them evaluated, and you want to understand the cause. So are they from straining? Are they from chronic constipation? What is causing these hemorrhoids, fissures can also be another reason, if you have brown blood in your stool, we definitely want to get that evaluated, you probably want to go see a GI doctor, immediately. If you have black Tari foul smelling stool, we do not want to mess around with that. And then the last reason that you may appear to have blood in your stool could actually be from foods that you are eating. So if you’re like Stacy, on our team, she loves beets. And we sometimes have clients reach out to us saying that, you know, my I appeared to have blood in my stool today, what do I do? And we look back and you know, ask them, okay, what have you had in the last day or so and they’ve consumed beets, this can actually make your blood or your stool red. So beats and blueberries both can do this. So if you eat those foods, then just know that. So when you’re looking at your stool and evaluating what’s going on, that can help just decrease any stress. Next up is mucus. So this can be from a lot of different things. Oftentimes, if you have inflammatory bowel disease, this may be one of the main symptoms that you have is a lot of mucus in your stool. This can also be from fissures, hemorrhoids, and it can also just be from general inflammation in your gut. So looking at okay, what is actually causing this? Is it from chronic constipation and causing the hemorrhoids? Or do I have inflammation in my gut from whatever reason? One of the tests that we do on our one on one clients looks at calprotectin, which is an inflammatory marker. And this is really helpful at looking at okay, is there high levels of inflammation in the gut, and then we can come up with a plan to address it. Sometimes you also can have mucus in your stool from digestive abnormalities, specifically with liver and gallbladder related conditions. Okay, the last thing that I want to leave you with today on our episode is the color of your stool. And you may be thinking, well, of course, stool is supposed to be brown, but there’s a lot of things that can happen that can cause your stool color to be off, and I want you to know what is causing it. So yes, your stool should be brown. But if you have pale colored stool, this can often indicate liver or bile flow issues. Maybe you’ve had your gallbladder out and you’re just not producing enough Bile or your bile flow isn’t adequate. Maybe there’s something going on liver related. You definitely want to look at that and get that evaluated so that you can improve that. You could need some pancreatic or stomach acid support. definitely work with a provider To help you with this, if your stool is orange, the main cause could be maybe you ate too many carrots, there’s not really many things that can cause this. From a physiological standpoint, if your stool is green, we want to look at infections. Sometimes if you’re taking antibiotics, this can temporarily turn your stool green, that can be a normal reaction. But if you chronically have green stool, we want to look at what infection is going on, that is causing this or if you eat tons of greens, and you are not digesting them very well, then this could be the cause also. Next up is yellow. So we see this actually quite a bit in our practice is typically if clients have pancreatic insufficiency, their stool will be a bit yellow, indicating that they need some support for their pancreas. And so that’s definitely something that we want to dig into. Because you need to be able to digest sugars and starches and all the components of your food to prevent nutrient deficiencies and also prevent issues with bacterial imbalances down the road, later on in your gut. Okay, and the last thing that I’m gonna leave you with today, as far as evaluating what your poop is saying about your symptoms is, if you have undigested food in your stool, we see this quite a bit in our practice as well. And there can be a lot of different causes. So perhaps you have tons of nuts and seeds and just foods in your stool. The first thing I want to look at is how are you eating? Are you chewing your food really well. And if you are, then we want to also look into some of these digestive insufficiencies. If you have tons of vegetable fibers in your stool, we definitely want to look at your pancreatic function and make sure and also again, back to the meal hygiene piece. But you really shouldn’t have tons of undigested food in your stool. Unless you’re eating foods that are not digestible, such as you may see corn in your stool that can be very normal, you may see a bit of quinoa in your stool that can also be a bit normal. You may see unground flax seeds, like whole flax seeds in your stool, also normal. We had a client probably a couple years ago now. But she got on a kick with those crackers that are called slackers that are literally just made up of flax seeds, and they’re not ground. And they were just coming out directly as they went in. And it started to freak her out, she didn’t realize that she was thinking she had like parasites or something. And then we were able to connect that it was actually the flax seeds, and nothing more concerning than that. So besides those things, you really shouldn’t be seeing tons of undigested food in your stool. And if you are, we have to look upstream. And that’s really what I where I want to conclude this episode is all of these things that we’re talking about are upstream issues. So if your poop is inconsistent, if you are constipated, if you have lots of urgency, if your stool is off colored, if you have undigested food in your stool, this says a lot about what’s going on in your entire GI tract versus just what’s going on in your colon and your small intestine. And so that’s where a comprehensive look at your entire GI tract is going to actually help you address all of this versus just throwing a random enzyme at your symptoms or eliminating certain foods. Your digestive tract is an open system from your mouth, all the way to the exit. And so there’s a lot of things that can be off, which I just broke down for you in this episode. And you really want to look at all the steps, because if step one isn’t working, then of course, step 10 isn’t working either. We need all the steps working and in the order that they’re supposed to be working in order for you to have proper bowel health and to have a proper elimination of your stool. Of course, there are fancy ways that we can really address this if you have really chronic symptoms. We do stool testing with our one on one clients. We have some at home tests that we have our membership clients do like the polka dot poop test, and just some other ways to look at what could potentially be triggering some of these symptoms. So there’s a lot of foundational things that we can work on before you know jumping straight to stool testing, but there definitely can be a time and a place if you’ve tried a lot of the foundational things and you’re not getting anywhere then that can be a great way to look at what is your last taste look look like? What is your sciatic crit look like? Those are looking at your pancreatic function and the presence of fat in your stool. I can tell Tell us a lot about why you might be having the symptoms that you are. So to conclude this episode, I want to leave you just with a couple action steps. So number one is, now that you have learned the potential causes of, you know what your stool is telling you, I do have a quiz that you can take that is going to further narrow some of this down for you. So we’ll put the link in the show notes. You can also jump right over to Instagram and you can DM me the word quiz. And you can take a brand new quiz that I have. It’s only 10 questions and it will, it will tell you exactly what is causing your GI symptoms and give you some action steps to actually address them. So Dami the word quiz over on Instagram or click the link in the show notes if you want to take that. And then step three is just start paying attention to patterns in your symptoms. So for example, do you only have urgency on on the weekdays, and you feel great during the weekend, you can start to piece together the other pieces of the puzzle when you start to pay attention to your patterns. So I really hope that this episode was helpful. I’d love to hear from you. Hear what your biggest takeaway was, what you learned about your symptoms and what you’re going to shift and adjust to as a result. As always, you can message me on Instagram, you can share this episode, share it with a friend tag us on that’s how more people find out about the podcast and I will see you next time on the next episode of the Love Your Gut podcast.
Dr. Heather Finley 26:36
As always, please note that this episode or anything discussed on this podcast is not a substitution for medical advice. And you should always consult your health practitioner before trying anything new. Thanks so much for tuning in to this episode of the Love Your Gut podcast. I’d love to help you understand why you’re bloated and so that is why I have created my free quiz. Why am I bloated? In this quiz, you will learn what could potentially be causing your bloat and what you can actually do to fix it. So if you want to learn why you’re bloated and how to fix it, visit Dr. Heather finley.co backslash quiz, or visit the link in the show notes. I’ll see you next time.