STOOLS – WHY IS THE TOPIC OF POO SO IMPORTANT?
One of the hottest topics for Naturopaths to discuss is poo. The shape,
colour, smell, whether it sinks or floats? While some may find this topic a
little uncomfortable at first, it can provide valuable information about our
ability to digest and absorb nutrients, eliminate toxins and the general state
of our gastrointestinal tract and its associated organs.
The digestive process begins before we even put food in our mouth, known as
the cephalic phase, this begins in response to stimuli from the senses such as
sight, smell, sound and taste via the vagus nerve and results in salivary and gastric
acid secretions. Chewing creates a flow on effect and release of digestive enzymes
in order to breakdown carbohydrates, proteins and fats (lipids). Carbohydrates
start their breakdown in the mouth by amylases and continue in the small
intestine, while proteases and hydrochloric acid begins protein digestion in
the stomach. Lipids are broken down by lipases and the release of bile produced
in the liver and stored in the gallbladder. After macromolecules are reduced to
their smaller counterparts and absorbed via the small intestine, what’s left
travels to the large intestine where bacteria ferment indigestible food
particles and the remainder is then eliminated, our stools!
The colour, shape, smell, consistency, whether it sinks, floats, feels
complete/incomplete, passes too quickly or is hard to pass all direct us to
areas which may be needing attention.
For example, a pale stool can indicate a lack of bile or an obstruction, as
bile and the breakdown of bilirubin is what gives poo its distinct brown colour.
Floating, oily stools with odorous smells may can indicate fat malabsorption
(steatorrhea), while loose stools with greenish colour can suggest our gut transit
is too fast and we therefore may not be absorbing our nutrients due to this
Strong smells or odours may relate to an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in the small
or large intestine (dysbiosis).
Seeing undigested food in our stool can also indicate a lack of proper
digestive capability and may simply mean we need to sit down properly, chew our
food and create the optimum environment for enzyme release, one of mindful
chewing, with a relaxed nervous system (parasympathetic state).
These are only some of the possible causes and do not constitute a
diagnosis, please reach out and seek guidance from a professional if you are
experiencing digestive difficulties.