I am so excited to share this information with you. Every time I was adding something to this workshop I was thinking how much you could take away, and I was so excited with every little piece of information that I was adding, so I really hope that you have, first of all, your workbook. If you don't have your workbook, get it. You’ll walk away with a ton of actionable things you can do to improve your gut literally starting tomorrow, and I'm really excited to share all this with you.
I'm going to start with a question:
Do you ever feel like you have no idea what to eat to really feel good?
Not feeling good and not knowing what to eat is a huge problem. It almost feels like everything that you eat isn't agreeing with you. You're not sure what's going to make your system feel your best.
These are the kinds of things that I was hearing from you:
‘No matter what I eat I don't feel great with bloating, gas, just feeling off.’
I heard three months pregnant over and over again. Is there something ... For all you ladies who have kids, is there something about three months pregnant that makes you feel that you can relate to that when you're bloated? I thought that was interesting. Everyone said three months pregnant. The unbuttoning the pants, I love that.
How about not being able to lose weight? Is there something wrong with my stomach? "Is that why" someone was asking.
Also, always needing to know where the closest bathroom is. You just never know when you're going to need to go - now. Certainly when we're talking about irritable bowel syndrome, far more common in women than it is in men, I think it's something like three times as common in women. We're going to talk about some of the things that can be done in terms of having food go through you too fast and be so uncomfortable.
Basically digestion comes down to what you put in your mouth and your body uses. It turns food into nutrients. It becomes your cells. It helps with cell growth. It basically becomes you.
Literally every piece of food that you're eating becomes your body. And when you think about it that way it helps to make choices that are going to support your body a more.
Tonight we're going to go through the anatomy and physiology of your digestive system. The reason is, and I think I probably sound like a broken record, but when I do these workshops what I'm really hopeful is that you guys will feel like you're back in school, but you're studying yourself. You’re sitting in the chair, you're taking notes, and you're learning about you.
This is so important because nobody can know what it's like to digest food in your body except for you. If you do some of the stuff we talk about tonight, you'll have so much information. If you ever do need to work with a healthcare practitioner, if you ever are bringing what you're going through to someone, you'll have even more information to share with them, and I think that's so important.
Again, tonight turn off all the distractions. You are in school, and you are studying yourself.
We're going to go through:
Digestive anatomy and physiology - this won't be boring, so I don't want to hear any collective groans
4 different tests that you can do at home - you don't need any supervision and these will give you a ton of information about what's going on inside you
we are going to talk about poop - I don't know what else to call it. I brought this up with my group coaching ladies, and I asked, "what's a good word for poop?" They all said, "I don't know. Poop?" I feel ridiculous saying stool, so I'm going to go with poop. And we're going to go through what we want to see when we're looking in the toilet.
your microbiome - this is huge right now. This is new research. This is cutting edge. This is also one of the reasons why people may be having trouble losing weight, trouble sleeping, trouble with cravings, and with mood.
And we're also going to talk about strategies to improve all of this.
We have a lot of stuff that we're going to go through, and hopefully you guys will leave with more understanding about how your digestive system works and also how to improve it and just make everything better. Because let's be honest. When our gut doesn't feel good, we feel terrible. Everything feels off. And we don't want to feel like that anymore.
Digestive System Anatomy
(All the images referenced are available in the slides here)
We are going to start with quick anatomy. This picture is not anatomically correct. You may notice that the esophagus is going right into the liver, which is obviously not correct. But I chose it because its color. The name of the organ corresponds to the color on the picture so that it makes it easier for you to see.
The top would is obviously your mouth. It looks like an upside down plunger, and then your esophagus is that plunger handle coming down.
Your liver is the red organ, and you should know a ton about your liver if you came to the spring liver clean workshop, which I think was two workshops ago. If you haven't seen it, the replay is available on the website. You can watch that anytime. There's really good information in there. The gut and liver go hand in hand. You get the best results when both are working properly.
The green organ, so the light green, is your stomach. People's stomachs are about two fists, so if you put two of your fists together that's about the size of your stomach. Your stomach is a muscle, and it produces hydrochloric acid and digestive enzymes to help break down your food.
The little tiny blue guy coming out of who knows where is your gallbladder, and you will remember the liver produces bile, and the bile breaks down fat in your body, and the bile is stored in your gallbladder and is released into your small intestine.
The purple organ is your pancreas. Your pancreas produces pancreatic juice and it helps to digest carbohydrates, protein, and fat.
Next is your small intestine, so that's the green organ. Your small intestine is actually really interesting. It's about 20 feet long. If you take it out of your body and stretch it out, it's 20 feet long, which is gigantic. It's about one inch in diameter. The walls of your small intestine have lots of folds and ridges.
This is because 90% of the nutrients in your body are absorbed in the small intestine.
So by the time the food leaves your stomach it's in the small intestine, it starts out there as probably a little bit more solid. By the time it leaves, it's going to be liquid. There are three segments in your small intestine. There's the duodenum, the jejunum, and the ileum.
The duodenum is the one that has to do with breaking the food down further.
In your digestive system, the way food passes through is through peristalsis, which is that wave like motion. You’ve probably heard of it. In your small intestine, there's also something called segmentation, which is kind of like if you could picture squeezing a toothpaste tube, that’s segmentation. The thought is that you take that digested food from the stomach and you push it against the walls of the small intestine to absorb all those nutrients. This is really, really important when it comes to absorption obviously.
Then we move into your large intestine or your colon, and it has five parts. Food will enter this organ as liquid, and it leaves as solid if everything's working well.
The first part of your large intestine is your cecum. It's on the right lower side right by your right hip bone, and then you have your ascending colon, which goes up on the right side, your transverse colon goes across the top, and then your descending colon comes down the left side, goes into your sigmoid colon, which is an S shape. This is where your body stores poop before it is ready to come out. Incidentally when you do go to the bathroom you are not emptying out your entire colon, you're just emptying out about a third of it.
So if you've had a bout of food poisoning, diarrhea, anything like that, then you will find that you aren't going to the bathroom for a while, and that's totally normal. The last part of your colon is your rectum, and this is highly innervated. This has the nerves that tell your brain whether you have gas, solid, or liquid in there that needs to come out.
Those are the five parts of your large intestine. Basically, the point of the large intestine is to remove water. It does do some nutrient absorption, mostly B vitamins. Most of the absorption is in your small intestine. The colon is not part of absorbing nutrients except for those B vitamins, and the colon is full of bacteria, which is the microbiome as we know. In fact, actually when we dissect bodies in school, we get the whole body with the exception of the colon. They tie it off, and they take it out because it is so toxic and dangerous. You can't be around it.
Okay, is everyone good with the anatomy? I don't know if maybe some of that was new to you. I find this stuff very interesting, and I find it helpful when you're trying to figure out what's going on with you.
Your digestive system produces five different fluids.
You have saliva, which has your salivary amylase, which helps to break down carbohydrates, and that starts in your mouth.
You have hydrochloric acid, which is in your stomach, which helps with further chemical breakdown of food.
You have mucus. Some mucus is normal. Almost from the esophagus down you have mucus to protect and to lubricate.
You have digestive enzymes, which are kind of like little machines that help to break nutrients down even further.
And as we talked about you have bile, which helps to emulsify fat. If your bile isn't working properly, then you can picture the fat is almost like the consistency of soap. You do not want that in your digestive system.
Digestive functions and tests.
There are six digestive functions: Ingestion, secretion, mixing and movement, digestion, absorption and excretion. We're going to go into more depth with these, but this is basically everything that your digestive system does. We're going to look at ways to figure out how each of those things is working.
The first one is ingestion, and this is obviously where we take food in through our mouth, we chew it up, and we swallow it. I am going to bet that you are not chewing your food enough. This is the single simplest thing you can do to help your body out.
Picture this. Your body is trying to break down all of this food, and you're sending it chunks of food that should already be chewed up and ready to go. Chewing your food is super, super important. I call it the chew test. When you are swallowing, what you swallow should be liquid. Salivary amylase is the digestive enzyme that starts to break down carbohydrates in your mouth. If you do not chew your food enough, then the rest of your digestive system is having to work to do this, and it's a waste of energy, and it's a waste of time. It also can leave you bloated, gassy, have indigestion, have poor digestion. It can slow everything down.
I'm going to challenge you to do what I call a chewing test.
At the point that you think that you're ready to swallow your food, chew it 10 more times. If it's still not liquid, keep chewing. Not only does this slow down your eating ... I mean, how many of us are eating in our car? We're eating over the sink. We're eating doing any number of things. Instead you're going to actually stop, and you're going to chew your food until it is a pure liquid, and then you're going to swallow it.
Which reminds me, speaking of liquid, digestive enzymes require water to function. Ideally, you want to have a cup of water about 30 minutes before you eat. There are lots of people who will tell you that you cannot have water while you're eating because it kills your digestive fire. I don't know about the digestive fire, but I do know that research shows that it has no impact whatsoever on your hydrochloric acid in your stomach.
Now, does this mean you should be guzzling a ton of water while you eat? No. But I do think sipping water is absolutely fine. In fact, most water dense foods are easiest on our digestion. Soup, smoothies. All of these are very high in water and very easy to digest. Don't be afraid to sip a little bit of water as you are eating. I've had a few of my clients who have been told not to drink water, and truth is is if you aren't hydrated properly, then those digestive enzymes don't work. One of the digestive enzymes is in your mouth, so adding a little bit of water is a-okay.
This is where we're looking now at a more chemical function. Your stomach produces hydrochloric acid. When we looked at that little diagram, we had that upside down plunger, you had the mouth. It goes into the esophageal sphincter. That sphincter is at the top of your stomach, and what happens is it needs a certain level of acid in order for that sphincter to close. If the sphincter doesn't close, then you get what we call heartburn, reflux, GERD, indigestion, that acidic feeling.
You want to find out is if you have low stomach acid. And if you have low stomach acid it's going to feel like you have too much acid. People mistakenly take antacids or take acid suppressing medications. Problem is is then you're further decreasing your hydrochloric acid in your stomach.
Why you want that acid strong? Because it is chemically breaking down your food. The stronger your acid can be, the better. You want it to break down that food easily, and you do not want it coming back up into your esophagus. The other symptom of this, not only heartburn, is when people have that kind of feeling in their throat or you can feel like you have a little lump in your throat too. This can indicate that your stomach acid is low. So we want to test this. How do we test this?
The betaine HCL test.
What you do is you take the pill - you do have to buy them. I think it's $10 to $15. So it's not an expensive test.
I highly, highly suggest you're going to want to test your acid levels at least twice a year, if not with every season, just to know what's going on with your body.
What you do when you take these pills is you wait until you're having your largest meal of the day. You take one of these hydrochloric acid pills before you eat, and then you wait. If you develop heartburn after your meal, then your acid levels are good. If you do not, then the next day you're going to repeat the test with your largest meal, but you are going to take two pills. If you develop heartburn, then you are going to, with your next meal the following day, you're going to take one pill. So you back off by one, and you treat it as a supplement because it means that your acid isn't quite high enough, and that pill now can become a supplement.
If you don't develop heartburn after two pills then the next night, you try it with three pills. I have heard of people going up to 13 pills. That's how low their stomach acid was. As I said, just a quick recap, you're taking one pill the first night. If you develop heartburn, you've done the test. Your acid is good. Another two, three months, six months if you want, then you're going to repeat the test. If you do not have heartburn after you've taken that one pill, then the next night you're going to do with two. If you get heartburn, then you're going to start supplementing with one pill. If you don't want to supplement with one pill, then you can also use apple cider vinegar, a tablespoon in water. You just chug it down before you eat. Some people will use lemon water too, and that's fine. All you're trying to do is stimulate that acid.
So, how would it work on day three if you take three pills and you do develop heartburn? Then you're going to use two pills to supplement. Hopefully that does make sense, and if not, then we can talk about it in the questions. It can't damage you in any way. You're just going to have heartburn for a few hours after you eat.
Mixing and movement
The stomach is kind of like a cement mixer. It's moving everything around and it's digesting it, and it's breaking it down and then those waves, the peristalsis, the segmentation, all of that is getting it through your system.
You're going to look at your bowel transit time test.
We want to know how long that food is staying in your system. So what we're going to do for this test is you are going to grab a food that colors your poop. You are going to eat three or four beets. You are going to take activated charcoal. You are going to take chlorophyll. Something that's going to give you a very vibrant display when it comes out of you so you have an idea how long food is taking to go through your system.
Ideally, you want food to take no less than 12 hours and no more than 24 hours. So, you'll be monitoring to see how long it takes to go through you. If it's less than 12 hours, then you are not getting the nutrients you need from your food. This is the danger of too fast a transit time. You don't get the nutrients.
The danger of too slow a transit time is that that food is sitting inside you and it's basically putrefying. Not only that, a lot of the deactivated toxins ... So the liver deactivates toxins and then they go into our waste, and our bodies need to get rid of that in a timely manner. If it isn't happening what can happen is those toxins can become reactivated, and this is especially true in the case of estrogen. This is something we're going to talk about later when it comes to hormones and our gut health.
The bowel transit time test, my favorite is beets, but I love beets. If you don't, then you could try activated charcoal or you could try chlorophyll. Just something that makes your poop change color.
The Peek Test
The fourth test that is going to measure digestion, absorption and excretion is what I call the poop peek. I want to change you guys from what I call fast flushers, people that don't even look, and they just flush it down - to poop peekers. I want you to examine what's happening, what's coming out of you. Not because I'm weird. It is really good information.
It can tell you how well you're digesting and absorbing your food. For example, if you are seeing chunks of undigested food in your poop, then you may need to be supplementing with hydrochloric acid or digestive enzymes.
How well you are absorbing the nutrients in your food, which we'll get into a little bit later. But another thing you can check for absorption is your fingernails. Has anyone ever heard of this before? You can just let me know in the comments. If you have vertical ridges from top to bottom in your nails, it can indicate that you aren't absorbing your nutrients as well as possible, and that's a small intestine issue.
So maybe your acid is not strong enough. By the time it's getting to your small intestine it's not digested to a state that it needs to be or maybe your bowel transit time is too short, and you'll know that when you do the test.
So this poop peek is actually going to help us figure this out. Again, remember you are studying your body. This is you studying you. It doesn't matter what your neighbor's poop looks like. I hope you don't know what your neighbor's poop looks like. You need to see if there's changes in what's going on with you. It's kind of like a smoke detector that beeps at you and tells you, "Hey, something's wrong. Hey, something's wrong." Only we just flush it away, and we don't pay attention.
The truth is is if you have a problem with absorption you could be spending all your money on organic food, non-GMO, the best possible food, but if you are not absorbing the nutrients, what's the point? You need to have all systems go in order to be getting the most out of your food and getting the most out of quality food.
By the time you actually go to the bathroom, what is poop made out of? It's mostly water. It's also indigestible food and toxins and bacteria live and dead. That's all it is. It's nothing to be scared of. It's nothing to be too grossed out by. It just is what it is, but it's also a ton of information about what's going on with you.
All right. Are you guys ready to actually look at some poop? Here we go. There is a study, all right, that actually looks at different types of poop. Thankfully, there are people in the world that studied this for us so we don't have to go around asking everyone and figuring it out for ourselves.
(Look at the slides)
Type one and type two are definitely not good. We're thinking constipation at this point. Type three, I'd say mild constipation. Type four, look at that beauty, that is the exact kind of poop that you want to have. Incidentally, when you're going to the bathroom the size of it should be from your wrist to your elbow. Just for a second here I want you to look from your wrist to your elbow and say, "Wow, okay, that's quite a lot that should be coming out of me." Otherwise you might not be fully evacuating your bowels or you don't have good quality poop.
The other thing to keep in mind is you want to look at the shape. If you notice that you have a definite ridge or a bump or something that's consistent in your poop, if you think about your colon being a tunnel, if you picture, say, like a little lump the poop has to go around that. You're going to get an unusual shape in the bowl. This is what they call a space occupying lesion. This could be something like a polyp. This could also be colon cancer. This is something that you want to be monitoring, right? If you notice that you normally have the same shape to your poop and its changing, that's something to monitor and to report if need be. Also, if you have really thin ribbony poops, that means that they have to squeeze past a space occupying lesion.
How many times is different for everybody. My opinion is you should be going at least once a day. I have had people report to me that they've been told that once a week is fine. I would heartily disagree with that. If you are the kind of person that normally goes to the bathroom once a day and now it's once every three days, that tells us there's something wrong. If you're the kind of person that usually goes every three days and now you're going four times a day, that tells you that something might be wrong, although I don't think you should be going every three days. I think our goal should be to aim for at least once a day.
Type five, type six, type seven, these are all diarrhea-ish. Certainly type six and type seven, I think that we can recognize that we don't want that. That is no fun.
Now, did you know that there are different colors of poop? Yes. If you remember from our spring liver clean talk, then you'll remember that normal poop is brown because of the bile. It's a nice color that we want to see.
Green. Green is an interesting one because it can mean that food is going through you too fast, your transit time is too fast. Remember, we don't want that because it's actually a problem.
If you remember from our posture talk, the workshop, that lying down will slow your transit time and help your body to digest a little bit slower. Green would indicate you're not getting all the nutrients out of your food. It could also mean that you're eating a ton of greens. If every meal, you're having something green and your poop is green all of a sudden, well that makes some logical sense. Also green food coloring, although I highly recommend you don't eat that.
Yellow poop is fat malabsorption, and you'll actually see almost like a greasy slick in the toilet bowl as well. And it's usually really foul smelling and it floats. You may also have some floaty poops if you eat a ton of fiber. We'll talk about that in a minute.
Black poop. If you've done the activated charcoal as the bowel transit test, then the black poop is fine. Otherwise, it means that you're digesting blood in your system. It means that in your upper digestive system there is something bleeding, and it's going through your system and you're digesting it. This is not a good sign. This is something that you definitely want to be discussing with your MD.
It could also be from certain supplements, although I have never heard of anyone having this from iron, but in the research it says it could be from iron too.
Light colored, white, or clay colored means that there isn't bile reaching the intestines, which means there's a problem with the liver, gallbladder, both. There could be a blockage so that the bile is not getting in there.
Blood stained or red. This means that the blood has not been digested, which means it's lower down in your intestines. Blood in your poop, it can be something bad. Ninety percent of the time it's a hemorrhoid or an anal fissure. What this means is you're probably constipated, or pregnant with the hemorrhoids. With the anal fissure you're probably constipated and straining and pushing too hard and you're tearing as you're pooping. This is when you wipe you get ... I told you guys this would be a lot of ... What's the word? Too much information talk!
But when you wipe and you get a little bit of blood on the toilet paper, this is what you're looking at as probably an anal fissure. Incidentally ladies thong underpants can also create these from the rubbing. Keep that in mind.
Five causes of an unhealthy poop.
High levels of stress.
This is more important than I can even probably emphasize, and we're going to talk a little bit about the gut brain axis near the end of this talk. Stress really impacts your gut. Your gut has its own brain that can perceive and respond to stress. I mean, my little dog, if he sees a suitcase, he has diarrhea for two days, so he's responding to that stress. His gut is responding to that stress, and I think most of us can relate to that feeling of your stomach being in knots when you're feeling really stressed.
Diet low in fiber.
Fiber is such an interesting one. There are two kinds of fiber. There's insoluble fiber and soluble fiber. Soluble fiber are things like rice, oats, anything that water can absorb into is soluble fiber. Our colons love soluble fiber. It gives those peristalsis waves something to contract around. Insoluble fiber is your roughage. It's the stuff that we don't digest. It's your greens and your vegetable fibers. It goes through your bowel and it kind of scrubs everything out. We need a mixture of both.
If you are trying to eat a low carb diet, which is very popular right now, then you may not be having enough soluble fiber in your diet. You do not want to be constipated, so at this point if you are against eating the soluble fibers as I said beans, rice, that kind of thing, then you may want to supplement with a soluble fiber supplement.
Psyllium husk is a good one. You're absolutely never going to use Metamucil. All it is, is sugar and food coloring with a little bit of psyllium. You have to actually use plain psyllium. If you are really wanting to stay on that low carb diet, which I have my own thoughts about, but if it's working for you, and that's what you want to do, make sure that you're getting enough soluble fiber.
Inflammatory and autoimmune foods.
Some foods are going to make our guts inflamed. I told you that it's normal to have a bit of mucus in your poop because there is mucus in your intestines. But, you don't want to be seeing a lot of mucus. That indicates that your body is reacting to the food as an inflammatory substance. This would be a food sensitivity.
How do you know if you have a food sensitivity? Well, a really good sign is what I call, you the hyper-wipes. When you wipe, it should be just one wipe, and there should be pretty much nothing on the toilet paper. If you're having to wipe multiple times this could indicate that there's too much mucus in your stool.
If you have to flush multiple times because you're leaving little streaks in the toilet, this would also indicate that you probably are eating some inflammatory foods. Inflammatory to you. What's the best way to figure this out? An elimination diet.
Most of the women I talk to that have done an elimination diet have really gone about it almost the worst possible way. They've done the hard part. They've taken out all of the foods, all of the possible allergenic foods at once. They've suffered through weeks of basically eating almost nothing, and then when I talk to them, they feel guilty because they actually felt better when they were eating like that. They felt better on the elimination diet, and they think that they're supposed to go back and eat like that, and that's what their life is going to be.
And that is not the point of an elimination diet. The point is to reintroduce the foods. These are not meant to be diets that you stay on forever. Nobody is supposed to not eat anything. You're supposed to reintroduce the foods to see what you're sensitive to.
I'll often have ladies, whether it's one on one or in my coaching groups, who say, "You know, I did feel better when I did the elimination diet, but I just don't want to ... It's too hard to eat like that." And the thing is, is if you just test one food at a time ... Say you're testing dairy. You take dairy out for a few weeks. You reintroduce it and see how your body responds. All of the information you need is in that reintroduction phase. How is your body responding when you reintroduce it?
We know you're going to feel better when you take out all those allergens. It's not even interesting information. Everybody feels better when they do that. But how do you feel when you introduce them again one at a time? I'll tell you it's so much easier to not eat dairy when you know it makes you feel terrible. I'm just picking dairy from this example. If you take out gluten, dairy, soy, peanuts, eggs, how do you know which one it is when you're going forward? Most people miss this stage.
So, Beck's saying right now she's doing the AIP diet, which is an elimination diet. Of course, you're going to feel better. That's not even interesting. Everyone feels better. What's interesting is to know why do you feel better. Look at everything you've taken out and now one at a time you add them back in to figure it out.
If your gut's in a really bad state, there's an argument that you do need to take out all these foods to get it somewhat healed in order to see how you respond to reintroducing foods, but I have seen so many people have equal success with just taking one food group out at a time for three weeks and then adding it back in to see how they do, and it's a little bit more manageable. If the thought of an elimination diet makes you want to cry, then you could try this method.
Just take out ... I'll say dairy again. Take out dairy for three weeks, and then at the end of three weeks add it back in, see how you feel.
The good news is even if you are sensitive to a food it doesn't mean you can ever eat it. What it means is you don't want to eat it more than once every 72 hours. Obviously, you're not going to make your life revolve around dairy if you're sensitive to it, but you can have a little bit every 72 hours. It's not a life sentence to never eat these foods.
Now, I'm not talking about allergies. I'm talking about sensitivities. Again, we can talk more in the Health Circle about elimination diets and see what your experience has been with those.
I think everyone's had probably experienced having some alcohol and then maybe not having the nicest poop. It's not a good scene.
This is a big one. A lot of ladies have diarrhea the day before, the first day, the second day of their period. This is because the prostaglandins that are causing your uterus to contract will also cause ... because the nerves are in around the same area in your low back … it also causes your smooth muscle in your bowel to contract. If you have diarrhea around your period, don't worry about that. Also, with hormones if your thyroid is low, you may be constipated. If your thyroid is too high, you may have diarrhea. If you're entering menopause, if you're perimenopausal, then you may be noticing that you are more prone to constipation. If your cortisol is too high, you may have diarrhea, so basically hormones, which we're going to talk about in a little bit can also have an impact.
Incidentally too, if you are seeing mucus in the toilet bowl, if it's around the time that you're ovulating, that's cervical mucus, and you don't need to worry that it is coming from your digestive system.
Underlying illness, of course, can cause us to have some unhappy poops.
We're going to talk about constipation.
The first two, maybe three, are constipation. The last three, five, six and seven are diarrhea. We want number four. Incidentally, when it comes to constipation this is a huge problem. It's actually one of the number one reasons that people go to see their medical doctor is constipation. A poop should take you under a minute. Actually, the average is I think 30 seconds. I don't know how they measured this. If you're in there for more than a minute or five, ten minutes, you see people go in there with a book, no, this means that you're probably constipated or you're trying to get away from your family, which could maybe be what you're doing.
If you are pooping and you have a lot of gas in between stuff coming out of you, that can also mean you're constipated because your body produces that gas to propel your poop through you at a faster rate. What else did I want to say about constipation? If you ... How do I put this nicely? If you hear a splash into the toilet, then you are probably constipated. You want your poop to just slide into the toilet. I always think about an Olympic diver. No splash. Ten out of ten. This is something you're going to start to notice.
My hope is at the end of this talk you are real excited for the next time you go to the bathroom, and you can ask, "Oh, is that a 10 out of 10 Olympic diver poop?" You don't want to be hearing a splash. That means that you have not enough fiber, not enough water or not enough movement. Those are the main causes of constipation.
Drugs can also cause constipation. Certainly opiates, narcotics, anything like that can cause constipation, and you'll want to take measures to not have that happen.
When it comes to fiber, you want insoluble and soluble fiber. Remember both are equally important. If you have irritable bowel syndrome, I find that a lot of times with irritable bowel syndrome people are shying away from the carbohydrates that actually might help them, like white rice. This can be really helpful because that's some nice soluble fiber for your gut. So you need fiber. You need water. You can be eating a ton of fiber, but if you're not drinking enough water, then you could still end up constipated. You need movement. This is why in the hospital they get you up and moving after surgeries because they don't want ... It's one of the reasons…. they don't want a complication of constipation because remember that's creating a toxic load in your system.
Obviously, nobody wants diarrhea. What are the causes of diarrhea? Incidentally you could be eating too much fiber or not enough fiber. You need to have soluble fiber. If you are only eating insoluble fiber, you can end up with diarrhea. What else causes diarrhea? SIBO causes diarrhea. I don't know if you have heard of that. That's small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, which means that some of the bacteria that are supposed to be in the colon have now migrated up into your small intestine.
Alcohol, caffeine, too much exercise with cortisol can cause diarrhea, your blood sugar, your hormones can cause diarrhea. This is something that you want to worry about because you are not getting the nutrition that you need out of your food.
I was reading one article that talked about the emotional states associated with these two extremes, and they said constipation tends to be people who are stuck in the past. I thought that was kind of funny. Stuck in the past, feeling regrets and grief. That's not funny, regret and grief, but just the fact that our poop might indicate our emotional state. And diarrhea may be in the future, anxiety and worries. Basically in order to have that really nice number four poop you have to be present. Yet another reason to work on our mindfulness.
7 steps to a great poop
We've talked about your fiber. We've talked about water. We've talked about your liver being important. We've talked about moving your body, managing stress. Magnesium is an important supplement. They say that most adults are deficient in magnesium. It can actually help keep your bowel moving the way that you want it to. I recommend whenever you start with a magnesium supplement, I always start with a quarter of the dose and then slowly work up. Because guess what? If you have too much magnesium, it's going to give you diarrhea.
Probiotics, which moves us into our next slide, which is your microbiome. And your microbiome or basically all of the bugs that live in your intestine, your large intestine. What we want when it comes to these bugs ... There's over 400 different kinds. There's more bugs ... I call them bugs because they're not all bacteria, but there's more in our body and on our body than they are cells. We have trillions of cells. So there is a lot of different communities living in and on our body. We want this. When it comes to our microbiome, we want to have a good balance between the good bugs and the so called bad bugs, which include yeast and fungus.
It's not so much about getting rid of the bad stuff as it is crowding it out. It's kind of like when you plant grass. You want it over seeded so that the weeds can't grow, although that actually has never worked for me. But in terms of our colons, we want to over seed our gut so that we have those really good bacteria in there. One way to do that is a probiotic. It doesn't really matter what brand you take, but you do want one that's refrigerated. If you're off dairy, make sure it is not dairy based.
Remember too that 80% of your immune system is in your gut, another reason to keep your gut healthy, and also hydrochloric acid will help to kill invaders. So if you have low acid, you may find that you're getting food bugs, food poisoning, stomach upsets more than the other people in your family.
Prebiotics are all of those resistance starches that we don't digest are your prebiotics. We're going to talk about that in a minute.
Dysbiosis means that your gut is not happy. You have more of the bad than you should. You can read these symptoms. Gas, bloating. That sounds familiar based on what we were talking about earlier, right?
Interestingly I came across these cases of people who were pulled over for DUI, and it turned out that they were actually fermenting alcohol in their guts. Now I'm not suggesting that you guys have this level of dysbiosis. It's called gut fermentation disorder. When they ate sugar, they had so much yeast in their gut that they were fermenting it. In order to make things like beer, you take sugar and you take yeast, and you make those bubbles. So it makes sense that if we're eating a lot of sugar and we have an overgrowth of yeast we're going to get these bubbles, which is going to create a lot of gas and bloating. We want to avoid that situation.
What causes dysbiosis? Antibiotics. As you know antibiotics kill off the good bacteria, and I find more and more medical doctors are actually prescribing probiotics with the antibiotics. When you take them you want to take the probiotic about two hours away from the antibiotic. Excessive alcohol. antacids, right? Because they're decreasing your hydrochloric acid when you may already have low acid. Stress. Previous bacterial or GI tract infections. I have worked with a couple of coaching clients just in the last little while who either they or a family member had food poisoning and now has a real problem going back to certain foods afterwards.
Diet high in refined sugar processed foods. Okay, this is an important point. If what you're eating is highly processed, it's going to go in through your mouth, it's going to go into your stomach, it's going to be broken down in your small intestine. The nutrients, what little nutrients there are, will be absorbed, and then there is nothing. There is nothing left for your microbiome to eat.
Prebiotics are the bits of food that your microbiome can eat. What do the good bacteria like to eat? They like to eat resistant starches, like your white potatoes that you cook and then you refrigerate and then you eat. That becomes a great prebiotic. Any vegetable, anything that our body cannot digest is considered indigestible. Our microbiome, the good bugs, love to eat this. They nosh, nosh, nosh on this. The bad bugs, they love sugar. They create sugar cravings, et cetera.
If you're eating a ton of processed food, you have no food left for your microbiome to eat. So instead they give you cravings. They make you hungry. Even though you've already eaten, you may feel hungry. Incidentally you may also feel hungry if your bowel transit time is really slow. You may not be getting the nutrients in a speedy time, and it can be making you feel hungry even though you've just eaten. So those are two things you want to avoid.
What happens is that your gut bacteria can actually start to destroy your gut lining because you're not giving them anything to eat, and this is leaky gut. You’ve probably heard of leaky gut. You want to stay away from highly processed food, and that's another good reason to do it because it's just not good for your microbiome. Low fiber, environmental toxins, which we talked about. They now say there's the obesogen, which is the dominance of estrogen based on the plastics and the toxins in our environment. Go back and do the spring clean workshop if you didn't already do that one.
Okay. So what can we do? We've got this problem with our microbiome. The good news is the best way to influence your microbiome is your diet. An average bacteria lives about 20 minutes. Every meal you have a chance to do something good for your microbiome.
Microbiome - the four R's
What you're going to do is you're going to remove any of the foods that are inflaming your gut. You're going to remove any simple processed food that has no nutrients and gives your microbiome nothing to eat. And you're going to replace it with pretty much everything that's in this slide picture here. You can see the veggies. (slide image)
You're going to reinoculate, which means take those probiotics that we talked about and you're going to repair, which is just removing all of these offending foods and letting your gut heal with these four R's.
Every meal is your chance to make your microbiome happier. We definitely want to have a happier microbiome.
What about the microbiome and weight loss?
This is a big field of research right now. This is an important field of research right now. They are now determining that people who are obese have a different microbiome than people who are not. Just take that in for a minute. Different bugs in their gut than people who aren't obese. What does this mean? It means that the microbiome is likely playing a role in terms of the fact that they have gained the weight, and they can't lose it.
There was at least one research article that I was reading that talked about the fact that people will lose weight, and then they tend to gain it back because they haven't changed their microbiome. So if you've ever been in that cycle of losing and gaining and losing and gaining, it could be just because your microbiome is not being addressed. This is when you're going to take charge of exactly what's going on with your digestive system, and you're going to address this from top to bottom.
Incidentally, if you are not getting enough sleep, your microbiome starts to look like an obese person. In two days you will have a microbiome that looks like you are obese. Sleep is so important. Your microbiome also produces neurotransmitters like GABA which help you stay asleep. And so if it's not producing neurotransmitters properly, then you may have problems sleeping. So it just becomes this huge vicious cycle that we want to avoid. But certainly when you're thinking about your microbiome, especially if you're trying to lose weight, you have got to address your microbiome with those four R's. That's really, really important.
Cravings and emotions. (Slide Image)
This one was kind of fun to do. I'm not sure about the science behind this, but I love this kind of stuff because it makes us think about ourselves and what we may be missing in our lives. So I will make this slide available in the health circle so you can look at it. And as I said, I don't know about the science, but I mean, can it hurt to think if you're constantly craving sweets, maybe you're looking for some joy in your life. If you're constantly craving something that's spicy, maybe you want some more passion. This is certainly worth thinking about, and when you're studying yourself, why not?
Your microbiome can also create cravings and as I said those bad bugs tend to crave sugar. We want to crowd them out.
Your gut brain axis.
This is really also an interesting area of studies. They're now finding that there are more nerve cells in your gut than there are in your spinal cord and peripheral nervous system. This is a big deal. There's communication between your brain and your gut. And it is bidirectional. We would think our brain was always telling our gut what to do, but it turns out that most of the fibers actually go in the opposite direction. That feeling in your gut is really influencing your brain. It influences via neurotransmitters. It produces 90% to 95% of the serotonin in our bodies. Serotonin is that relaxed happy kind of molecule.
I saw a mug that had on it ... So my background is in biochemistry, and this is probably partly why I liked it. But on the mug it said, "The two reasons we do everything." It had the molecular structure for dopamine and for serotonin. Serotonin is like that feel good happy chemical. And then dopamine is the reward system, the hit of dopamine that feels really good in our body. Anyway, I thought that was cute. I wish I bought it.
In this gut brain axis is also the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis. And so if that is creating too much cortisol, then that's going to be affecting your gut, which is going to be affecting your brain. It's all connected. Keeping your gut brain axis healthy and happy requires you keeping your gut healthy. One of the studies they were doing with people who had irritable bowel syndrome is they were researching whether or not the microbiome got better if you also did some mindfulness work. Shock of all shocks, of course it did. With irritable bowel, addressing the mental aspects, the stress aspect, of course helped.
This is really early research, so I'm not sure where this is going to go. But right now they've done some studies with depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders. They've showed that having your microbiome be healthier actually helps with these mood disorders. They're starting to figure out these connections. But the gut is far more important than we ever really thought it was in the past.
There's one more, and this is actually from our posture talk. You'll remember this if you attended that one, and that's the correct posture for pooping. You want to be squatting. I'm going to shout out to the Squatty Potty one more time. It doesn't have to be Squatty Potty. You could turn over a recycling bin and put your knees up, but you want your knees above your hips. This is so that puborectalis muscle that attaches kind of around or slings around your rectum can fully open, and you can fully evacuate.
I just want to recap. We went through the anatomy. We went through the physiology, so all of the functions of your digestive system. You should be feeling good about that. We went through four tests that you're going to start doing starting ... Well, the next time you go to the bathroom is when you're going to start one of them. We talked about what makes your poop good. What you're looking for. There was a lot of information in here, and I hope that you guys took some notes on that. We talked about your microbiome, the four R's how we're really going to replenish and make our microbiome as healthy and happy as possible. And then overall strategies to just improve how our gut is functioning. This is obviously a huge topic.