Can we talk about poop for a minute? I’m sorry to be so brazen, but I’m a mom and so talking about poop is like talking about the weather. 😉
Did you know our excrement speaks volumes about our intestinal health? Our bodies are like finely tuned machines, and so if one thing is backed up (hehehe) then that could be a sign of bigger issues. Dr. Ken Heaton developed a visual called the Bristol Stool Chart, to help measure how long the stool remains in our colon which is a good indicator of overall gut health:
I think it’s important to understand the types of stools in the chart and what they mean as far as overall health. I have found this chart helpful as a parent. My children’s stools are like a window into their digestive system.
Type 1, 2, and 3
These types of stools are typical of people with constipation. Type 1 and 2 stools are usually thick in diameter and very hard to push out. Dr. Campbell-McBride writes in her book Gut and Psychology Syndrome*,
Constipation is always a sign of deficient gut flora in children and adults. The beneficial bacteria, that normally populate the bowel play a crucial role in proper stool formation and elimination…They stimulate the wall of the bowel to produce mucus for lubricating the stool and for passing it out as soon as it is ready. A healthy person should have 1-2 stools a day. (p. 325)
I don’t agree that constipation is always a sign of deficient gut flora, especially in people who have neurological issues, but generally it is a leading factor. Many people try to treat their constipation symptoms with dietary fiber. While the dietary fiber may cause short term relief and is considered by many to have health benefits, it is also implicated in changing your gut bacteria (source) and reducing mineral absorption (source) which can lower your immune response.
Constipation can be treated naturally in many people by including fermented foods in their diet and taking a good probiotic. Whenever my children start to shows signs of constipation I give them an extra cup of water kefir and it usually solves the problem within hours.
Type 4 and 5
These stools are considered ideal. They should come out easily and are smaller in diameter than types one through three. When my children produce stools that look like these, it makes me proud. I know I’m weird. 😉
Type 6 and 7
Type 6 is borderline diarrhea. It is still considered normal by some sources. When my kids have had a lot of bone broth their stools will look like this, probably from the high mineral content.
Type 7 is considered diarrhea. This is obviously not good and can cause dehydration among other issues. The Mayo Clinic lists viruses, bacteria, parasites, medication, lactose intolerance, fructose, artificial sweeteners, surgery and other digestive disorders as causes of diarrhea. Diarrhea may also be a sign of food allergies. It was one of the first things I noticed before my son was diagnosed with food allergies. Whenever my kids struggle with diarrhea I make sure to give them bone broth to rehydrate and replace all the lost minerals along with water kefir* to replenish the depleted gut bacteria.
Are you a poop examiner? What do you do to treat constipation and/or diarrhea? Do you believe that having healthy gut bacteria is the key to having healthy stools?
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**Please remember I am not a doctor. I am just a mom who likes to research and understand the ‘why’ behind today’s health issues. This is my personal experience and not meant to diagnose, treat, or cure any problems.