Although the topic of poop is cringe-worthy for most, our stools can tell us a lot about what is going on with our overall health and so, yes, it is in fact something I talk about with people often. And by that I mean Every. Single. Day.
Hippocrates said that all disease begins in the gut, and by God the man was probably right! Our stool is still a very useful tool that provides valuable if not critical clues about our digestive (and other) wellness or lack thereof.
The digestive tract contains more bacteria than there are cells in the entire body, so it’s important that this delicate microbiome environment is kept in balance, as it is here that we absorb nutrients and where we keep out toxins or germs that could potentially harm us.
Some of the most common digestive and gastrointestinal issues I see fall under the umbrella term of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (link to page). Most who suffer from IBS experience much milder symptoms than those with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) – ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease (link to page).
IBS tends to be a catch-all phrase with the primary symptom of “gastrointestinal disturbances”. This includes changes that occur in your bowel movements, differences in the frequency or consistency of stools, the presence of pain, bloating or cramping, etc.
Digestive disorders like lactose intolerance, diverticulosis, Crohn’s and colon cancer can have similar symptoms to IBS also. It is currently estimated that approximately 80% IBS is actually an infection or overgrowth of bad bacteria such as SIBO (LINK) or an imbalance of good to bad bacteria, or sometimes it is a food sensitivity.
The nuances of knowing how to interpret the signs and symptoms and then knowing what type of testing is indicated can be diagnostically tricky, so it is important to have a complete evaluation by your naturopathic doctor to determine if what you have is indeed IBS or if it worth ruling other possibilities out.
The status of our gut is always changing and can affect everything from our immune system and digestion all the way to how our mood is and how our brain functions. It can also let us know when the body is fighting an infection or dealing with a serious condition.
If you have concerns about your digestive health, it is wise to pursue getting to the bottom of it due to how much potential there is for collateral damage and long-term health consequences.