What your poo is trying to tell you

Written by Rachel Favilla | 28 January, 2020

I would like to have a firm (but not so firm that it’s painful) word to whoever decided that poo was a taboo subject. According to the laws of nature, everybody poops. And if they don’t, the situation needs to be rectified – literally. But how on earth can we rectify our poop woes if we can’t even have a conversation to gauge what’s actually ‘normal’?

By the end of this article, I hope to have broken down the socially conditioned barriers than have your sphincter tighten in horror at the mere mention of the ‘p’ word. Breaking into a turd-fearing sweat every time you’re faced with the reality of bodily functions is, quite simply, a waste of time. Time that is better spent on wholesome activities, such as fuelling the peristaltic action that will assist your bowel in voiding its next poophoric elimination.

Why is it so vital that we poop on the daily and enjoy the rush of euphoria that’s follows? Well my friends, because if the eyes are the window to your soul, poo is the window to your gut, and as I’m sure you’re aware of by now, your gut is top dog. Your gut plays a role in mood, brain function, liver detoxification, nutrient synthesis and hormonal regulation. The piles of brown matter that slide out of your anal canal offer great insight as to how you’re faring health-wise.

I don’t read tea leaves, but I can suss a stool as though my life depends on it which, as a nutritionist, it kind of does. Professional food nerds aka nutritionists are obsessed with the glorious brown stuff. So, what are we aiming for? Picture a smooth, long, satisfying sausage that voids near-effortlessly within minutes of getting the head’s up from your very own defecation reflex. Within moments of eliminating such a creation, you should feel light and elated.

Please don’t worry if I didn’t just describe your usual bathroom experience. There are ways to (again, quite literally) rectify this. Crackly dry stools, ‘rabbit pellets’ or full-on constipation can indicate dehydration or a diet lacking in fibre. They may also be a consequence of a poorly absorbed iron supplement. Never fear – water, fruit, veggies and a change in iron formulation can get the good ol’ pipes working again. Magnesium can also help relax the bowel enough to ‘let go’. Conveniently, some of your favourite foods; dark chocolate, natural peanut butter and the humble banana, are loaded with the stuff.

On the other end of the spectrum, liquidy lava-like elimination indicates a sensitivity to something in your environment. It’s your body trying to get rid of something – from a bug to undigested sugars, such as lactose – pronto. Many of us get diarrhoea on occasion for all sorts of quirky reasons; heat waves, spicy food or drinking too much liquorice tea (okay, perhaps the latter only applies to yours truly). That said, if watery stools are a regular occurrence, you might like to seek the counsel of a professional poo detective – I’m sorry, qualified nutritionist – to help decipher why your bowels are urgently screaming for attention.

To finish off, here are a few other messages your bowels might be communicating to you. Pale stools; trouble digesting fats. Or you could just be really stressed. Dark stools; the poorly absorbed iron tablet strikes again or perhaps it’s internal bleeding (it could be nothing, but it never hurts to get it checked out at the GP). Colourful stools can be a sign that you aren’t breaking food pigments down properly. That said, if your stool looks pretty in pink post-beetroot consumption, there’s no cause for concern. Beets stain just about everything.

Let us end with a wee (or should I say poo?) bit of simplicity. Poophoria – the joyful rush experienced following a really good poo – is a buzz that every human deserves to enjoy on a daily basis. Best of all? It’s free. Yes, a glorious poo suggests that your liver is happy. It indicates that your gut bacteria are content and (some would argue most importantly) means that you don’t have anything left in the bowel that could ferment and produce death-defying farts. But technicalities aside, on the humblest of levels, pooing is a natural, normal pleasure. A healthy stool is worthy of topping your daily gratitude list. Happy poo, happy you.

Rachel Favilla

Rachel is an warm, personable and whimsical BHSc Nutritionist, Yoga Teacher and Author of the hilarious book 'Periods, Poo & A Glorious You'. Rachel loves nothing more than marrying health with humour and science with soul. You can find her and her book at www.realsoupfortherealsoul.com and connect with her on facebook @realsoupfortherealsoul, Instagram @rachelfavilla and Youtube @rachelfavilla

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