The conclusion of this series discusses how and why elimination is so key to overall health. Many people are uncomfortable with this topic, but it is a most vital function and a critical component of wellness.
Does Frequency of Elimination Really Matter?
The answer is an astounding YES! Since this is not pleasant or an easy topic of discussion, elimination is often overlooked and misunderstood. I dare say the majority of people falsely believe that their elimination is normal, despite the fact that they may not even move their bowels at least once daily. Accessing frequency of bowel movements is the first step when addressing digestive & colon health; average transit time for food to pass through the entire digestion process to elimination is anywhere between 24-72 hours for non-constipated adults. Contrary to what some conventional doctors believe, frequency is vital to maintaining good health. Removing waste products after digestion is a key element of detoxification.
How to Interpret Form, Shape, Consistency
The Bristol stool chart1 below is an excellent analytical tool. Compare your stool to the images in the chart to better understand the form, shape and consistency of your stool and what it really means. This will help you adjust your diet and supplement choices to improve your digestion and elimination process.
Dietary Fiber & Elimination
What is fiber? Simply put, it’s the part(s) of plants that’s not digestible. There are 2 forms of fiber:
1. Soluble Fiber—dissolves in water.
Examples: citrus fruits, apples, lentils, peas, nuts, seeds, oats, barley, & most vegetables.
Benefits: helps reduce inflammation in the large intestine (colon), lowers LDL, the “bad” cholesterol, increases insulin sensitivity to help regulate blood sugar, and adds bulk to stool (this helps alleviate diarrhea & loose stools).
2. Insoluble Fiber—does not dissolve in water.
Examples: whole grains, cauliflower, green beans, celery, cucumbers, wheat bran, rooted vegetables (carrots, parsnips, potatoes).
Benefits: reduces straining from hard stools/constipation that causes hemorrhoids, pushes water into the stool & acts as a softener, also supports insulin production & improves blood sugar function (like soluble fiber).
Important Note: Too much fiber can have some side effects like gas, bloating, and belching, but even more importantly, fiber absorbs a lot of water, and water is necessary in the colon for proper elimination, so as you increase fiber, be sure to increase water intake to avoid any side effects. Most people, however, have too little fiber in their diets so most often having too much fiber will not be an issue.
Digestion vs Metabolism
Digestion is how food is processed through our gastrointestinal tract (esophagus, stomach, small intestine) and eliminated via the large intestine (colon). Metabolism is the energy our body creates from the food we assimilate and digest. It’s important to note that metabolism does affect digestion, and from the 2 previous posts in this series, we understand that all metabolic functions are critical to optimal health. Several metabolic factors impact the body’s ability to digest and eliminate properly: frequency of exercise, thyroid function, microbiome balance (the ratio of good to bad bacteria in our intestines), pH levels in the stomach, blood sugar, detoxification, and hormonal levels. Higher levels of the cortisol hormone upon rising in the morning helps trigger peristalsis, which is the rhythmic, wave-like contraction of muscles in the intestines that help push food through the colon into the anus for elimination. People that are chronically stressed are often constipated, as they have low cortisol levels which can impede peristalsis and bowel movements.
A Crown Jewel: Psyllium Husk
Psyllium Husk, also known as Ispaghula, is derived from the seeds of Plantago plant.2 Psyllium is a soluble form of fiber, and it produces a plethora of benefits for the entire gastrointestinal tract, and as a result, has very positive effects on metabolism.
I mentioned microbiome above and having a balance of bacteria in our gut is essential for many reasons, most notably immune function (because 85% of immunity lies within our gut). And because the intestines intersect with pretty much all metabolic processes, feeding our microbiome is critical for being healthy. Including psyllium feeds the microbiome; the gut bacteria ferment the psyllium (soluble fiber), and this forms short chain fatty acids like butyrate, which has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity in mice.3
Additionally, psyllium has the ability to alleviate both constipation and diarrhea (keep in mind diarrhea is actually a form of constipation). When psyllium blends with water in the intestines, it produces bulk and softens stool, which eases discomfort of hard, impacted stools. If there’s an abundance of water in the intestines, it can absorb some of the water and help to harden the stool which will stop the loose stools. I recommend supplementing with psyllium for anyone who has problems with frequency, form, and inconsistent bowel movements. I do not recommend taking Metamucil because it contains toxic dyes and sugar, which negates the benefits of the beneficial fiber from the husks.
I do recommend Metabolic Maintenance Organic Psyllium Husk Powder (1 scoop in 8 oz water daily). You may purchase this at the Deeper Health Supplement Store
First time purchasers please enter Registration Code VF1430 to set up a new account & enter coupon code HCPC1430WELCOME for 10% off, compliments of Deeper Health.
Managing the 3 Pillars—the Road to Recovery & Health
If you are struggling with different symptoms that seemingly are unrelated to sleep, blood sugar and regular bowel movements, chances are these are hidden culprits and issues that have not yet been diagnosed. Conventional doctors don’t check for underlying, often hidden factors. Most of the time, annual check-ups and routine bloodwork appear to fall within normal ranges, and often these markers are not ever questioned or discussed. Using the Bristol Stool Chart will now help you identify if your stools are what they ought to be; many people have constipation in one form or another and don’t even realize it. And if people do struggle with bowel movements and regulation, they are told to take laxatives and stool softeners, which only address symptoms and do nothing to correct the cause.
It’s important to understand the significance of these 3 pillars and how they are inter-connected. If any one of them is dysfunctional, a person will begin to experience negative symptoms and a downward spiral of metabolic chaos will ensue if these imbalances are not corrected. These 3 pillars are early markers to analyze and correct for prevention of many different diseases.
1 Bristol Stool Chart: developed by Dr. Ken Heaton, University of Bristol, 1997