Let me ask a question: Are you properly digesting your food?
Most people aren’t 100 percent sure the answer is yes. The good news is that you have a daily opportunity to assess how well you’re digesting your food, and it’s not what you may think. You can actually assess how well you’re digesting food by looking at your poop!
If you’re not already paying attention to your poop, it’s time to start. Failing to take note means you could be missing signs that you’re struggling with poor food and nutrient breakdown, which can lead to nutrient deficiencies and illness in the long term.
The good news is that in this week’s blog, I’ll break down exactly what to do if you aren’t properly digesting your food, and explain why my HAPPY GUT® ACTIVATE supplement is the perfect solution to getting your digestion back on track.
But first, let’s learn what our daily bathroom habits can tell us about our health.
What Your Poop Can Tell You About Your Health
There’s a good chance you read the headline of this article and had a little moment of panic or embarrassment. But as America’s Gut Health Doctor, getting people talking about poop is a big part of my job.
Why? Because your poop can tell you a LOT about your health. In fact, you can think of your poop as a daily piece of data on the status of your digestive system. When I see a new patient, I ask a series of questions about their bowel movements, such as:
- How often are you pooping?
- What color is your poop?
- Are your bowel movements painful?
- Does your poop sink, or float?
- How do your bowel movements change after certain foods or meals?
- What is the texture and shape of your poop?
- How does your poop smell?
- How long does it take you to have a bowel movement?
Yeah, we get down and personal! Lol
This might seem like an invasion of privacy, or at least an overwhelming number of questions about poop that you wouldn’t want to answer — but I promise you, it’s not too much detail! Here are just a few of the things I can learn from knowing more about your poop…
What Your Poop Is Telling Us
1. You’re chronically dehydrated
If your stools are hard, lumpy, or come out like pebbles every few days, that means you’re constipated. And one of the biggest factors in chronic constipation is dehydration — in other words, you’re not drinking enough water. I always tell my patients to aim for 64 fluid ounces of water each day.
If you’re not sure exactly where your poop falls on the scale of texture and shape, you can follow the Bristol Stool Chart. Anywhere between Type 1 and Type 3 means you’re tending towards constipation.
Click to enlarge
Type 1: Separate hard lumps, like little pebbles.
Type 2: Hard and lumpy and starting to resemble a sausage.
Type 3: Sausage-shaped with cracks on the surface.
Type 4: Thinner and more snakelike, plus smooth and soft.
Type 5: Soft blobs with clear-cut edges.
Type 6: Fluffy, mushy pieces with ragged edges.
Type 7: Watery with no solid pieces.
2. You’re not properly absorbing nutrients
Do you notice that your poop floats in the toilet, instead of sinking to the bottom? If this is your norm, you might not even know that it’s a sign of an issue. But floating stool can be a sign that you’re not absorbing nutrients properly, like fat. If left unaddressed, this can lead to chronic nutrient deficiencies that can increase your risk for certain health issues, such as muscle wasting, reduce immunity, and consequences for your eyes, bones, skin, and hair.
3. You have an underlying gut health issue
The color of your poop can be a helpful indicator of an imbalance in the gut microbial ecosystem. For example, greenish poop can indicate a bacterial or viral infection, or even a parasite. Red poop can be an indicator of issues like hemorrhoids, fissures, or more serious illnesses like inflammatory bowel disease or colorectal cancer. If you’re got red poop or blood in your stool, it’s important to get it checked out right away. Yellow or gray-ish poop can be a sign that you’ve got an issue with your liver or gallbladder. See? There’s so much to learn!
4. You’re taking the wrong supplement
If you’re running to the bathroom 5 times a day without any other explanation, it could be a side effect of a supplement or medication you’re taking, such as magnesium. In certain forms, magnesium can act as a laxative and draw high amounts of water into the intestines, leading to cramping, bloating, and diarrhea. If you’re taking magnesium to help you relax, opt for forms like magnesium glycinate and threonate as opposed to magnesium carbonate, chloride, gluconate, and oxide.
5. You’re not properly digesting your food
When you look at your poop, are there pieces of food that you recognize from the meals you ate? If this is happening regularly, it could be a sign that you’re not properly breaking down your food. This typically means that your body is not producing enough or the right type of digestive enzymes. This is something I’m seeing more and more often among my patients, so let’s dive into what digestive enzymes are next, and why they’re so important for breaking down your food.
Other than seeing undigested food particles in your stool, there are some other clear signs that you’d benefit from digestive enzymes.
1. You have acid reflux
Acid reflux is often described as an “overproduction” of stomach acid, which causes it to backflow into the esophagus and cause a burning sensation in the neck and chest. But the truth is, more often than not, acid reflux is caused by an UNDERPRODUCTION of acid and digestive enzymes, which leads to slow digestion and acid backing up into the digestive tract. As someone who healed their own chronic heartburn and IBS, I can attest to the fact that digestive enzymes were a big part of the process in my gut healing journey. These days, I’m enjoying a wide range of foods — even spicy ones! — that taste great and don’t leave me with acid reflux.
2. You feel fatigued after a meal
Feeling extremely fatigued after a meal, especially one that is full of high-nutrient, healthy foods, is a big sign that your digestive processes are sluggish, and your body is struggling to summon the energy and enzymes required to properly digest your food. When my patients report post-meal fatigue, I often suggest a digestive enzyme to help them break down their meals with more ease.
3. You’ve got SIBO
Activate Plus was designed to help with SIBO symptoms, like bloating, and treat two of the main underlying causes: slow digestion and low stomach acid. Most importantly, it can help make sure you break down all food nutrients — proteins, carbs, and fats — with every meal. It contains ingredients like betaine-HCL, which helps you digest protein better, counteracting the fatigue-inducing effects caused by SIBO and inefficient nutrient breakdown and absorption.
If you take one thing away from this blog, it’s that you should pay attention to your poop! You’ve got to stop thinking of it as something gross or too private to ever talk about, and start thinking about it as a type of vital sign — helpful information your body is providing you! Once you make this mindset shift and start paying attention to your poop, you can keep an eye on your health, and course correct if something looks or feels awry.