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Mar 1 / Kerri-Lynn

Healthy Bowel Movements

Proper digestion is a very important aspect of healthy living. If we are not digesting efficiently and effectively, we cannot absorb nutrients or rid the body of waste.

Our bowel movements can tell us a lot about the health of our digestive tract. Poor digestion may lead to serious diseases, such as cancer (colon, breast), anemia, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, etc. It is important to remember that abnormal bowel movements are a symptom, and not a disease until they are ignored and allowed to become a pathology. It is imperative that people overcome their embarrassment of discussing this topic and seek help, if necessary!

What is considered normal?

Often, when I ask my patients about bowel movements, the response is generally “normal” or “regular.” What we need to consider is that normal/regular for you may not be physiologically healthy or normal. A healthy bowel movement resembles the following:
- One solid long curved piece
- Medium brown colour
- No food particles, mucous or blood
- Easy to eliminate, with no pushing or straining
- Drops once it hits the water
- At least one time daily

What does it mean if your bowel movements are not “normal and healthy?”

Constipation
- Straining and difficulty passing stool, even if you are going once daily
- Feeling of fullness, bloating, and incomplete voiding
- Stool may be dark brown in colour and/or resemble small pellets

Loose stool
- Stool is not well-formed, and breaks up in the toilet
- Lighter brown in colour
- May contain food particles or mucous
- Causes: lactose intolerance; gluten intolerance; food sensitivities; medications; antibiotics; anxiety; stress

Alternating bouts of constipation and diarrhea
- Termed IBS by the medical profession (a catch-all diagnosis for “we don’t really know what’s causing it.”)
- Often related to stress and food sensitivities

Clay-coloured stool
- A gallbladder or liver problem (bile is not being excreted)

Floating stool
- High fat content in diet
- Digestive system not breaking down or absorbing fat (could be a pancreatic or small intestine problem)

Bleeding
- BRIGHT RED – originates in the large intestine or colon; often associated with hemorrhoids or anal tears (may be related to constipation)
- DARK RED/BLACK – originates in the stomach or small intestines; often caused by ulcers or inflammatory bowel diseases

Mucous in stool
- Intestinal inflammation
- Causes: ulcerative colitis; Crohn’s disease; food sensitiviites

Pencil-thin or ribbon-like stool
- Causes: a polyp in the colon or hemorrhoid is blocking the passage

Foul smelling
- Imbalance of intestinal bacteria
- May be related to food intolerances

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