WARNING! This article contains information on a subject that many of us are not comfortable talking about and some people give " way too much info" about. Unless you’re the parent of a toddler who has just mastered “going potty,” poop is probably not a hot topic in your household. But the composition of what you deposit into the toilet has important implications for health. Did you know the features of fecal matter—such as the size, color, shape, odor, and consistency indicate how well the gastrointestinal (GI) tract is functioning? Those same features also provide clues about how your body is (or isn’t) faring against threats of infection and more serious diseases like celiac disease, hepatitis, urinary tract infections, malabsorption disorders, inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatitis, and cancer.
To give you an idea of what healthy, normal stool looks like, check out the Bristol Stool Chart. The healthy range for fecal matter is of a consistency that is not too hard, not too soft, and mostly solid—as opposed to lumpy, pellet-like, or liquid. Normal stool color is in the light-to-medium brown range and is not offensively odorous. Also, bowel movements (BMs) should pass easily from your body to the toilet.
5 BMs that Require Medical Attention
Unless you are aware of dietary changes or a medication that could produce the following types of stool, it’s advisable to seek medical attention if you observe the following changes in BMs.
- Stool that is hard to pass, requires straining, or is accompanied by abdominal pain.
- Black, tarry stool might indicate infection or GI bleeding, while bright red stool could indicate infection and/or bleeding in the GI tract or anus. Seek immediate medical attention.
- White, pale, or grey stool could indicate problems with the liver, bile ducts, or pancreas.
- Yellow stool could indicate serious infection or gallbladder problems.
- Mucus in the stool can indicate inflammation, infection, or even cancer.
How Often Should You Go?
How frequently you have a BM is important, too. And, what’s typical for you may be different for other people in your family. Ideally you should have one to four bowel movements a day, but for most people, three weekly BMs are considered the norm. No matter how often you poop, you should not have to strain or experience pain while excreting. Additionally, be aware that the appearance and frequency of BMs will vary based on what’s in your diet, sleep and exercise patterns, hormonal changes, travel, stress, hydration level, medications or supplements you are taking, and exposure to toxins (from nicotine to industrial toxins).
How Low Should You Go?
There’s also evidence that the position you take to evacuate the bowels has health implications for the physical structures of the GI tract. So much so that some scientists indicate sitting to poop is a contributing factor in the development of colon and pelvic diseases. Before potty training, young children squat to poop in their diapers—they don’t sit. Yes, there’s a difference between squatting and sitting. The modern toilet places the thighs at a 90-degree angle to the abdomen, whereas squatting has a much deeper angle that gives more motility to the intestinal muscles and organs. Evacuating the bowels is much easier on the body in the squatting versus seated position. Toilet position should be a consideration for everyone over the age of five, but is especially important for the elderly, the disabled, and individuals with compromised mobility.
You can learn more about proper toilet position in this video:
- Mercola, J. "What You See in the Toilet Can Give You Valuable Insights into Your Health." Accessed February 2015.
- Monastyrsky, K. "Gut Sense: What Exactly Are Normal Stools?" Accessed February 2015.
- Sikirov, D. "Comparison of Straining During Defecation in Three Positions: Results and Implications for Human Health." Abstract. Digestive Diseases and Sciences 48, no. 7 (July 2003): 1201-5.
- Step and Go. "Step and Go Ergonomically Correct Toilet Position." Accessed February 2015.
- Image: JavierBrosch/bigstock.com
The White House recruited a panel of nutritional experts to establish an updated set of nutritional guidlines. In February 2015, they released their recommendation in a 570 page report, in which the removed the dietary cholesterol restriction of 300 mg./day. Wow! I thought that I would never see the day when the federal government would actually say that there is no reason to limit cholesterol intake. The authors stated that there is no “appreciable relationship” between consumed cholesterol and blood cholesterol. They also mentioned that limiting dietary cholesterol does not lower LDL- the bad cholesterol. I do not know why it took the government so long to come to this realization, escpecially since there is very little evidence, if any, that "high" cholesterol causes cardiovascular disease. Cholesterol is essential to life. It is used to make many of our hormones and it also makes up part of every cell membrane in the body. In any case, you should no longer feel guilty the next time you crack open a couple of eggs.
I used to neglect eating fruits and vegetables, with the logic that I could just pop some vitamins in my mouth instead and be healthy. It was easier and I didn't have to worry about cooking or eating things I didn't like, such as kale. The truth is, I just didn't know that I was missing out on so many other health benefits that come with eating whole foods. Here are three reasons why multi-vitamins cannot replace or substitute the nutrients found in fruits and vegetables.
Reason #1- Multi-Vitamins just don't make the cut.
Synthetic vitamins are made in a lab and are not real vitamins and our bodies cannot use them efficiently. One example of many is vitamin C. Most synthetic Vitamin C comes from ascorbic acid or ascorbate. What many people don't know is that vitamin C is a complex made up of Ascorbic acid, bioflavonoids, rutin, factor K, factor P, tyrosinase, and acorbinogen. Ascorbic acid is simply the protective outer ring and the body cannot use it unless it scavenges the other components from other tissues in your body. If your body cannot scavenge the other parts, you just end up urinating most of it out. Vitamin C found in whole foods like oranges, grapefruits, and acerola cherries contain the whole complex and is readily bioavailable.
Reason #2- Plants contain phytochemicals and phytosterols
Fruits and vegetables also contain nutrients known as phytohemicals, and plant hormones (phytosterols), which help us balance our own hormones. For example:
Broccoli and cabbage contain indoles, which help the body get rid of bad estrogens and improve testosterone to estrogen ratio.
Saw palmetto berries and pumpkin seeds contain beta-sitosterol, a plant sterol that blocks dihydrotestosterone, which is invloved in acne, hair loss, and enlargement of the prostate. It has also been shown to effectively lower cholesterol.
Pineapples contain bromelain- a proteolytic enzyme that decreases inflammation, cleans blood vessel walls, and breaks down scar tissue withing the body.
Many fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants, which lower protect us against cancer. These inclued: Flavonoids which also improve cardiovascular function. Polyphenols found in grapes are great for heart and lung health. Allicin in garlic is anti-bacterial. Cranberries contain proanthocyanidins, which defend against urinary tract infections.
Reason #3- Plants contain fiber
Fiber- fiber found in plants can help keep you regular, feeling satisfied, remove unwanted material from your intestines, bind to dietary fat, and help modulate cholesterol.
You should eat several servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Cooking or going out to get them may not always be feasible, especially when you lead a busy lifestyle. Blending them into a smoothie and taking it with you may be an easier option. Another simple option is powdered fruits and vegetables, to which you just add water to make a shake. Cleanse Blend, Brain Blend, and Immune Blend offer an array of nutrient packed powdered fruits and vegetables with many health benefits.
If you missed last months newsletter on the benefits of organ meats, you can read it here.
The Mighty Mighty Coconut
I want to make known to you a little known nutritional power house that can change your health in many ways. The shell that it comes in is like a security vault- well protected and tough to crack. If you ever tried to crack open a coconut, then you know what I am talking about. That shell is guarding a wealth of nutritional benefits for us. Many of us can recall the old Looney Tunes cartoon, in which a squirrel spends the whole day trying to crack open a bowling ball, which he thinks is a coconut. That squirrel tried everything from dropping it from a tree to trying to crush it with a piano. That squirrel must have known the value of the contents of that coconut. In the middle of the 20th century, farmers tried to fatten up their cattle by feeding them coconut oil. Instead of gaining weight, the cattle lost weight and became leaner, while eating more. It was a lose lose situation for these farmers. Today, because of modern technology and science we have an understanding of why the cattle lost weight when coconut oil was introduced to their diet.
The following is a summary of the benefits of coconut oil.
Coconut Oil Benefits:
1. Anit-bacterial, Anti-Fungal, and Anti-Viral
Coconut oil contains a fatty acid called lauric acid. The body converts lauric acid to monolaurin
The body uses monolaurin to kill HIV, Herpes, and Measles
2. Coconut Oil Can help with weight loss.
Coconut oil contains medium chain triglycerides (MCTs)
MCTs are immediately used for energy instead of being stored as fat
MCTs can up-regulate a sluggish thyroid gland, thereby raising your metabolism.
3. Coconut oil helps to keep your skin young and healthy when used topically.
- When used topically and consumed, coconut oil helps to fight fungal skin infections.
4. Coconut oil may improve your cholesterol profile.
Coconut oil is less likely to become oxidized than other cooking oils. Oxidized cooking oil can have damaging effects to our cardiovascular system.
Coconut oil was shown to decrease LDLs (“bad cholesterol) and increase HDLs (“good cholesterol”)
THE COCONUT MIRACLE STORY
The following is a story about a woman who used coconut oil to treat her husband’s Alzheimer’s disease. It is an excerpt from Mary Enig’s article entitled, “In the Land of Oz: The Latest Attack on Coconut Oil”
“…..the amazing story of a case involving coconut oil and recovery from Alzheimer’s disease, widely reported in newspapers and on the Internet. The story is a report by Dr. Mary Newport, a neonatologist and medical director of the newborn intensive care unit at Spring Hill Regional Hospital in Florida. About six years ago, her husband, an accountant who worked at home, began struggling with daily tasks. His deterioration progressed and he was eventually diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. Dr. Newport searched the Internet for clinical drug trials that would accept her husband and discovered that a drug containing medium-chain triglycerides, the kind of fat in coconut oil, had achieved remarkable results—not just slowing the progression of the disease but providing real improvement.
She decided to give her husband coconut oil, two tablespoons per day, and her husband immediately improved, scoring 18 on a cognitive assessment, four points higher than he had scored the previous day. Within a week he showed tremendous improvement and five months later her husband was leading a relatively normal life, although still unable to resume his work as an accountant, apparently due to permanent brain damage.
One important test for Alzheimer’s progression is to draw the face of a clock from memory. The illustration above shows Mr. Newport’s improvement as he took coconut oil.”
You can read the full article here: http://westonaprice.org/know-your-fats/1576-land-of-oz-attack-on-coconut-oil
There is no set recommendation for how much coconut oil to intake daily. However you want to use Organic extra virgin coconut oil.
I recommend taking 1-3 tbsp/day. I like to divide it into 2 tsp twice daily. I either drink it straight (it actually tastes good) , mix it into my protein shake, or use it as a spread, instead of butter. I also prefer to cook with coconut oil when possible. I also include it in my detoxification program. The results are phenomenal. It is well worth the effort to crack open the hard shell of a coconut.
Low back pain patients who remain active are better off than those who are less active.
Researchers evaluated how patients recovered from low back pain in relation to their activity levels. Some patients were advised to “stay active” despite the pain while others were told to adjust their levels of activity based on their pain. Those who remained active ended up recovering more quickly and feeling less depressed. On the other hand, patients who adjusted their activity levels felt more depressed and were less mobile.
Researchers suggest that back pain patients remain active and continue their daily activities when possible. This will likely promote a positive outlook and increase your physical mobility to put you on the path towards recovery. Consult with your chiropractor to learn more about how you can stay active even with back pain.
Olaya-Contreras, Patricia. Biopsychosocial analyses of acute and chronic pain, especially in the spine: The effect of distress on pain intensity and disability. Institute of Clinical Sciences at the Sahlgrenska Academy University of Gothenburg. 2011.
As reported by the New York Times- On February 2, 2015, the New York State Attorney General’s office accused GNC, Target, Walgreens and Walmart of selling fraudulent and potentially dangerous herbal supplements and demanded that they remove the products from their shelves.
After testing their herbal supplements, they found that four out of five of the products did not contain any of the herbs listed on their labels. At Walgreens, they found that their ginseng pills contained only garlic and rice. Walmart’s ginkgo biloba was found to contain no more than powdered radish, houseplants and wheat (even though the label claimed it was gluten free).
Target’s brand of ginkgo biloba, St. John’s wort and valerian root tested negative for the herbs on their labels. Instead they contained beans, peas, and wild carrots. At GNC, pills contained unlisted ingredients like powdered legumes, the class of plants that includes peanuts and soybeans, which are known allergens.
It’s scary to think that you believe you are buying one thing, but are in reality purchasing something totally different. Even something that you can be allergic to. One warning flag to look out for is a supplement that is “identical to”, but much cheaper than another brand. In light of the attorney general’s findings, we see exactly why it is so much cheaper. When it comes to herbs one part of the leaf may be more potent than the other part of the leaf. Often the cheaper brands use the leftover less potent portion of the leaf. The supplements sold at this office are professional grade high quality potent nutraceuticals that contain what they say they contain. They may be a little more expensive than the GNC and Target brands, but you can buy in peace- knowing that you are actually getting what you pay for.
Have you ever watched the national geographic channel to see a group of lions take on an elephant and bring it down to the ground? These animals are strong and healthy with high vitality and amazing social skills. Likewise, the eagle with incredible vision and depth perception can swoop down from a cliff to snag a rodent. These are high performance animals, yet you never see them eating fruits or vegetables. They have the same organs as us, and need the same vitamins and minerals that we do. So, how is it that they stay healthy and function so well without eating fruits and vegetables?
Their secret is that they eat the whole animal including the organ meats. In fact, they go for the organs first. We mostly eat the skeletal muscles of the animal and shun the organs. This is a big mistake, because these organs are not only packed with vitamins and minerals, but they have already been converted into a form that can be utilized by the body. For example: The Vitamin A in fruits and vegetables are not actually vitamin A, but a precursor called carotenes that must be converted into true vitamin A (retinol) in your upper intestine, but many people are unable to convert it. The Vitamin A found in liver is nature’s is actual retinol and does not need to be converted to be used by the body.
Here is a list of organ meats and the vitamins and minerals they contain. They contain many more vitamins and minerals than are listed, but this is a list what they are abundant in:
Liver: Zinc, Vitamin A, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid, Phosphorus, Copper and Selenium.
Spleen: Riboflavin, Niacin and Zinc, and a very good source of Protein, Vitamin C, Vitamin B12, Iron, Phosphorus, Copper and Selenium
Heart: Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B12, Iron and Selenium, Coenzyme Q10, L-Carnitine, Thiamin, Vitamin B6, Pantothenic Acid, Phosphorus and Copper.
Pancreas: Vitamin B12, Riboflavin, Pantothenic Acid, Phosphorus and Selenium.
Kidney: Vitamin C, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid, Iron, Phosphorus, Copper and Selenium, Folate and Zinc.
Brain: Vitamin B12, Phosphorus and Selenium, DHA, Vitamin C and Niacin.
Thymus: Vitamin C, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid, Phosphorus and Selenium
Lung: Vitamin C, Niacin, Vitamin B12, Iron, Phosphorus and Selenium, Riboflavin, Pantothenic Acid, Potassium, Zinc and Copper
Intestines: Vitamin B12, Phosphorus, and Zinc.
In many countries organ meats are a part of the regular diet. They eat sweet breads, which are the spleen, pancreas, and thymus. In Jamaica, kidney meat is a staple of their breakfast menu. However, in the U.S. we are not known for eating organ meats. Honestly, there is no way that I am going to cook spleen or brain for dinner. I also have no desire to eat these things. Even if you or I wanted to, we would not be able to find most of them in our mainstream supermarkets. That is why I carry supplements containing dried organ meat in tablet form. It is a simple and easy way to consume adequate amounts of organ meat.
I am not recommending that you eat organ meat instead of fruits and vegetables. They are equally important and you should consume both.