We all have the same digestive system. My digestive system performs the same function as yours, and your neighbours and your coffee persons and the Uber driver you had last week.
And yet nobody really talks about their bowel movements do they?
Not in a “hey do you think __________ (insert symptom here) is normal?” kind of way.
It’s always about making our digestive health into a joke..
This glossing over it starts from a young age.
Think about it... do you ever remember having a lesson in the 1st or 2nd grade about how your digestive system actually works?
Where you ever actually educated on what’s “normal”? e.g. how many bowel movements you should pass a day or how much flatulence reflects a not so healthy digestive system?
I certainly don’t remember learning anything like this.
I’d say that most of us never really take the time to consider what’s going on in our insides.
Not only do we not talk about digestive health… we do the exact opposite! We squash it down.
This is a real problem for those of us who experience debilitating digestive symptoms.
This lack of knowledge, education and communication around our bowel movements and our gastrointestinal health only makes it harder to talk openly about..
Far too often I see people who have put up with symptoms for years.. it becomes their normal.
It will always astound me to hear someone say “umm I probably pass a bowel movement once every 10 days or so..” They usually go on to ask “...is that normal!?”
The stigma around digestive health causes stress. This stress can make digestive symptoms worse. It’s a bit of a vicious cycle.
So, I will give you a bit of the talk that your 1st or 2nd-grade teachers should have.. (I realise they don’t set the curriculum and the issue is more systemic than this.. but you get my point).
At least from now on, you will be able to identify the signs of compromised digestive health.. Instead of putting up with it for years too long.
Firstly, it’s important to consider what IS normal for you?
As in how often do you pass a bowel movement?
Does passing a bowel movement cause you to strain?
Do you experience bloating?
A change in your bowel habits is a sign to look out for and can be a reaction to stress, a recent change in your diet or routine, an infection, undiagnosed allergies/intolerances or dysbiosis (an imbalance in the bacteria of the large intestine).
Remember everyone is different – so there can be slight variations – but in general below is an outline of what you should expect from your digestive system.
Signs of a healthy digestive system:
- Passing 1-2 bowel movements a day.
- More than this can indicate that food is passing too quickly through your digestive system, limiting the time your body has to absorb important nutrients from your food. This can lead to nutrient deficiencies.
- Less than 1 bowel movement per day can indicate constipation. This means waste is sitting in your bowels for longer allowing toxins the opportunity to be reabsorbed, which can make you sick. Constipation also affects the lining of your digestive system and can lead to conditions such as Diverticulosis.
- Stool should be well-formed, sausage-like and easy to pass. Hard stool that is painful to pass is indicative of constipation. While unformed stool closer to diarrhea can indicate infection or dysbiosis.
- There should be no undigested food in your stool as this is an indication that your digestive system is not breaking down food effectively.
- Flatulence is a normal bodily process, however passing overly smelly and/or frequent gas can also indicate a problem with the process of breaking down food, it may be caused by an infection, the presence of a parasite or can be related to liver health.
- Bloating may occur from overeating, however, bloating after meals or frequent and uncomfortable bloating is also a sign of a dysfunctional digestive system.
Optimizing digestive function is critical to our overall state of health and wellbeing.
Poor digestive health can lead to inflammation, compromised immunity, affected mood, nutrient deficiencies and many chronic conditions.
It’s important to think and talk about your digestive health! It is also important to seek help for digestive symptoms when things aren’t quite right.
Keep in mind that there are many things we can do from a nutritional perspective that will have a profoundly positive impact on your digestive system and therefore your overall state of health.
You don’t have to put up with symptoms of poor digestive health and all of the negative things that come with it!
Contact me today if you would like to improve your digestive health.