If all diseases begin in the gut, then why aren’t more people concerned with their poop? Our bathroom time may be something we typically avoid talking about, but it’s something that needs to be addressed. If we all understood what was ‘normal’ and wasn’t when it comes to poop, we may be one step closer to becoming a healthier society. (One can hope, anyway.)
The truth is that our stool holds information that we need to know. The consistency, smell, shape, and texture all give us clues to what is going on inside our bodies, more specifically, within our guts. To understand your own stool, you compare it with the Bristol Stool Form Scale (BSF Scale). The scale was developed to make talking about poop with a medical professional easier. It breaks stool into seven categories and allows you to visually compare your own sample.
When analyzing your stool, you will want to note three main items:
The frequency in which you are having a bowel movement. Having at least one complete bowel movement every 24-hours is ideal, with up to three being normal. Depending on your metabolism, quantity (and quality) of food eaten, and the health of your gut bacteria, pooping 1-3 times per day is considered healthy. Eliminating your bowels more frequently than this is considered diarrhea, and less frequently is considered constipation. Even though many people believe having a bowel movement once every 2-3 days is ok, I strongly disagree. Our body is removing toxins and cleaning itself out with each bathroom trip, and storing feces for longer periods of time is not doing the body good.
Did you know that your poop is 50-80% bacteria and not just the digested food being eliminated from your body? This is why I am a firm believer in eliminating the waste daily. The food passes through the digestive tract and collects bacteria as the body absorbs the nutrients needed. When it is expelled, it is the body’s natural way of detoxing from itself.
This is where you utilize the BSF Scale. The formation of your poop is very important, as it tells you if your body is properly digesting foods, absorbing nutrients and combining the acids and toxins properly to be eliminated. There are seven forms of stool within the BSF Scale model ranging from separate lumps to smooth, soft, snake-like poop to watery diarrhea. Below you can see each type. Ideally, you want to fall in the 4th category.
The brown color of your stool comes from the dead red blood cells and bile that is secreted to digest fats. Think of melted milk chocolate, that would be the color of perfectly balanced poop. Stool that is gray-white in color signals a lack of bile and typically means liver problems or clogged bile ducts. Yellow stool can be a sign of parasites present (or cancer in some cases); red or black stool can mean bleeding in the upper GI tract; green stool can mean there is an infection. However, simply eating foods with colorings or dyes can affect your stool coloring, too. The same can be said if you consume a significant amount of naturally colored foods (beets, for example). The key is to note your stool on more than one occurrence. You’ll want to note the color over weeks, not just a day. This way you learn if a food is affecting the color, or if your body is telling you something more.
After digging up the courage to look at your poop, you’ll realize that it’s a whole lot more interesting than you thought! Don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor (or chiropractor!) about your bathroom habits.
To change your stool, consider adapting a healthier diet, increasing water intake, exercising, and removing trigger items from your daily menu (caffeine, dairy, gluten, etc are all common foods that cause problems).
Did you know?
Chiropractic care can help infants, toddlers, children, teens, and adults become more regular with their bowel movements. Multiple studies show that regular care aids the digestive system in properly eliminating toxins from the body, leading to an all-around happier lifestyle.
It’s time for BBQ’s and backyard sitting. The fireflies are blinking, and friends stay well past sunset. I know that I am constantly writing about how chiropractic care aids in healthy living, but it’s time that I branch over into lifestyle choices too!
I’m excited to share a few of my favorite non-alcoholic, healthy drink options to enjoy all summer long. Typically, mocktails are full of food-coloring, naturally flavored, high-sugared mix-ins or sodas. But who wants their pretty drink to add pounds to their waistline, throw off their gut bacteria, or make them feel overall ‘icky’? It’s not always easy to make good food choices, but if you can have a few healthy drink recipes to pull out, it’ll make you feel better about the treats you indulge in!
When creating a non-alcoholic ‘mocktail,’ you’ll want to keep it simple. Avoid anything with processed simple syrup (sugar), drink mixes, juices (not fresh-squeezed), or concentrated juices. These add ingredients that are not needed, calories you don’t want, and are a recipe for a painful belly. Just stick with seltzer, whole and fresh fruits (juiced fruits are good!), and fresh herbs. Trust me, you can create a drink worth Instagraming with just a few healthy ingredients.
You can create your own non-alcoholic drink using any of the following, or you can try one of my favorites:
• Mineral water
• Pomegranate juice
• Unsweetened cranberry juice
• Pressed juice (no sugar added, not from concentrate)
• Acai berry juice
• Green tea
• Coconut water
• Pieces of whole fruit or vegetables
• Fresh herbs like mint and basil
• Citrus peels
The Watermelon Mint Twist
According to Nutrition Stripped, “Watermelon is incredibly hydrating — it’s actually got more water content than most fruits. It’s also a great source of electrolytes and has essential nutrients, vitamins, and antioxidants. Plus, watermelon takes well to a variety of herbs and is naturally sweet so you don’t need to add any sweeteners to enhance its flavor.”
• 1 bottle of pressed watermelon juice
• 1 tablespoon freshly juiced lemon
• 2 mint leaves
Go ahead and add a cube of cut watermelon to your glass!
• cranberry juice (pressed and unprocessed)
• fresh cranberries
With this drink you get the light bubbles on your tongue with the easy cranberry and smooth thyme. It’s pretty and delicious!
• 2 16- ounce bottles Original Kombucha unflavored
• 2 cups 100% orange-mango juice
• 1 ripe mango peeled, pitted, and chopped
• 2 cups fresh strawberries chopped
If you haven’t given kombucha a chance yet, go ahead and try it. The health benefits are amazing, and it’ll add the perfect fizz to your mocktail.
Now that you have decided to embark on an elimination diet for yourself or your child, there are a few things that I would like to cover. Remember why you are doing this and what you hope to gain. This isn’t a fad diet.
8 Tips for a Successful Elimination Diet
Clean Out the Kitchen and Prepare Wisely
This means to research why you are choosing this elimination diet and to take the time to understand and commit to it. If your head is not truly in the game, your chances of successes are minimal. Your health is at stake, educate yourself on why the foods you have been consuming may be the root (or aid in symptoms) of chronic issues. Clean out your pantry and refrigerator and start from scratch. Many seasonings and packaged items that you may think to be harmless are full of flavorings and other products not allowed on your elimination diet.
Meal Prep is Key
Find a few easy to prepare, easy to cook, and easy to clean up after recipes as your staples. The key is not to replace your current diet’s unhealthy foods with a diet-friendly version, but instead, try new foods or learn how to prepare things in new ways. If eating out was a go-to, preparing lunches for the week ahead of time will keep you on track. If dinners are always a last-minute thought, utilizing a slow cooker or pressure cooker may help you out. You can wash, chop, and portion foods after your grocery trip to make them easier to grab for meals throughout the week.
Keep a Food Journal
You need to write down your food consumption times and ingredients. You should also include your mood, sleep patterns, and ailments. You will be able to start seeing a pattern throughout your elimination diet that will help you to decide what foods are safe and which are trigger items.
Have a Support System
Are you entering this elimination diet alone? If a friend or family member is also on board, it will be a bit easier to stay motivated. But it’s completely doable to sail these seas solo, too. It is, however, important to have support. This means that your spouse or family should avoid eating your biggest non-diet foods in front of you. They can help you choose meals, talk with you about your experience, or simply cheer you on. Talking with others who have been through an elimination diet is also extremely helpful (and motivating).
Never Have an Empty Kitchen
When hunger strikes, food needs to be available. Keep high protein, diet-safe snacks premade and portioned and ready to grab. Toss some in your bag and pack a few for work (or school for a child). Visit the grocery store when needed to replenish fresh produce and other daily staples but stick only to what is on your list and avoid aisles filled with foods you are avoiding.
Do Not Cheat
Remember that this is not a weight-loss diet. If you cheat early on in an elimination diet, you will have to start from day 1 again. You will have to give the body time to detox from the consumed items. An elimination diet is done to learn the foods that trigger your ailments. Once you hit ‘baseline’ for a few weeks, you will be allowed to add back in items one at a time. From that point, you will know what triggers your body. Then it is up to you to either limit or permanently eliminate them from your daily life.
The Two-Week Detox Period
The first two weeks will be hard. I am not lying here. The body will go through a detox with headaches, mood swings, and exhaustion, especially if your previous diet consisted of highly-processed foods and lots of sugar. Push through and stay strong. Your body needs to be cleaned out so you can become the healthiest you possible.
The detox period does end, and you will feel better. You should even start feeling great. Your energy should increase, sleep should be easier, and your mood should improve. Some people feel so good that they become scared to reintroduce foods at the end of their elimination diets, but remember that you want to learn exactly what’s negatively affecting you. Knowledge is power, don’t be afraid to gain this knowledge.
Your Diet is Your Business:
You do not have to explain your choice to anyone, but if someone genuinely is interested in learning about your journey, you can share whatever you choose with them. That being said, you have the right to tell others to worry about what’s on their plate not what’s on yours.
For a school-aged child:
Talk to his teacher prior to beginning the diet. Let her know why you are doing this and ask her to please follow your food guidelines while he is under her watch. This goes for any childcare provider, including family members.
An Elimination Diet For Breastfeeding Moms?
I’ve discussed the importance of seeing through an elimination diet for yourself and your children, but I have not mentioned new moms yet. When speaking with pregnant clients, I tend to discuss their nutritional habits, which leads into the rabbit hole of gut health conversations. We know that gut health is linked to just about everything in the body, and that holds true for the developing fetus and soon-to-be newborn. The mother’s gut health effects the baby’s gut health, which impacts a newborn’s skin, sleep, moods, poop, and so much more.
Breastmilk is superior to formula. This is not an opinion, but a fact. A breastfeeding mother has the power to manipulate and heal her infant’s gut and eliminate or improve issues that arise all by eliminating or adding foods into or out of her own diet.
Within those first few months of infancy, many parents assume the ‘witching hours’ of crying are normal. They assume that butt rashes are to be expected. They think that spitting up is why bibs were created. They believe that their baby just doesn’t sleep, but that there’s nothing to do but survive this stage. Many turn to medications, ointments, sleep training, formula, baby cereal, or other non-natural band-aids that truly cause damage to a baby. It is lack of education, and the lack of support from a pediatrician that sends parents running for these alternatives.
These issues are not normal and are a sign that something is off. More often than not, the answer lies in learning what foods (through the mother’s milk) are causing these issues. This can be discovered through an elimination diet. Food sensitivities are typical with infants, as their digestive systems are still maturing and are not ready to handle specific proteins (or other nutrients) just yet. Every baby is different, but there are many similarities that have been discovered.
I highly recommend to pregnant women in my practice the elimination of dairy beginning around 36 weeks gestation. This gives the body a few weeks to process and detoxify from the food group. Dairy is milk products derived from cow’s milk. They are over processed and stripped of all natural nutritional value anyway, so eliminating them should make your body feel better overall. However, cow’s milk is meant to be processed by baby cows, who have 4 separate compartments to their stomachs. They are also meant to weigh a ton (a literal ton). Our newborns are not meant for this. Their tiny bodies ache when trying to process dairy. Eliminating it before baby arrives should help keep those first few weeks peaceful.
There is no research to share on food preservatives being passed from a mom and found in breastmilk, but elimination diets speak for themselves. While you can choose to eliminate dairy alone, your baby may need more or other items removed as well. Dairy is typically the best place to start, as the newborn period can be overwhelming. If your baby is already in your arms, and you are experiencing troubles, you may choose to consider a full elimination diet that includes processed items, gluten, dairy, and other common triggers.
Things to Note with a Breastfeeding Elimination Diet:
There are two guts working, not just one. This takes more time. It can take 2-4 weeks before seeing improvements. However, many mothers testify that results can begin to be noticed within days.
Just as typical elimination diets go, breastfeeding diets aren’t forever. Once baseline is established, (meaning the issues have leveled off and life is calm and happy) you can continue for several weeks and then start adding in one eliminated item at a time to see if the issues arise again. Baby’s digestive systems tend to mature between 4-6 months of age, so what bothered them as a newborn may be better tolerated later.
A baby’s sleep should improve, but the goal is not to train the baby to sleep through the night. Research links dairy and wheat consumption to poorer sleep patterns. This isn’t surprising because it’s hard to sleep when your stomach hurts. Finding the trigger foods will help your baby find better sleep, but infants are supposed to wake to nurse throughout the night. An elimination diet may help them sleep longer, but no baby is meant to sleep 12 hours without waking.
Colic is a term used to label all crying with no known reason, and while an elimination diet should help most colicky infants, there may be other issues to look at.
The main food allergens (dairy, wheat, eggs, nuts, etc) are the most common foods to eliminate, but consider citrus foods, processed items, dyes, and grains, as they are becoming more well-known for causing issues today.
(The American Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine’s clinical protocol for infant allergies offers a plan for an elimination diet.)
Whether you have read Part 1 to this series or not, perhaps you aren’t needing to know about children’s elimination diets, I want to share with you the overall reasons to seek out an elimination diet for yourself.
We live in a world full of chronic illness, excess weight, sleep troubles, anger issues, focus problems, and so many other ailments that seem to affect most to all of the adult population. While so many adults choose to berate the younger generation, or even friends and family over choices to lead healthier lifestyles by stating, “We turned out fine! You are being absurd,” there is so much these adults don’t consider when saying this. The truth is that most adults battle known or unknown autoimmune issues, are on medications, struggle with ailments that they fail to include when they tell everyone how “fine” they turned out.
Our bodies are not meant to consume the processed food items that have become our daily indulgences. We are exposed to toxins through the air and water. We don’t sleep enough. We are over-worked, over-stressed, and under-exercised. Our bodies are inflamed, and inflammation is the trigger to a list of ailments to long to completely list. However, the following problems are a few of the most commonly experienced:
- Autoimmune Diseases
- Bowel Disorders
- Skin Problems
- Brain Fog
- Joint Pain
- Heart Disease
- Bone Health
Recent research has revealed that most, if not all, age-related diseases are linked to inflammation. This is a huge red flag. This means that we can aid our own bodies in battling against the ailments that most struggle with as they enter and live through retirement. No, an elimination diet will not prevent you from being diagnosed with cancer in the future; however, properly completing a thorough elimination diet will open your eyes to what impacts your body. This gives you the power to reduce inflammation and lead a healthier lifestyle with fewer chronic problems.
What is an Elimination Diet?
A diet that takes out foods from your typical diet. Generally, all chosen foods are eliminated together and left out until the person begins to feel/act/achieve a ‘normal’ state for a period of time. Once this occurs, foods are very slowly reintroduced, taking extreme note on behaviors, sleep, moods, skin appearance, and overall health. Through the reintroduction stage, you will discover what foods ‘trigger’ or intensify your ailments, symptoms, and disorders.
An elimination diet is not a diet to be followed forever. It lasts as long as needed to establish a baseline, and after reintroduction, an adaption then becomes the new lifestyle. For example, if dairy is a trigger, you may choose to remove it permanently from your life, or you may strictly limit it. The elimination diet is hard to complete, but the information is beyond valuable, and your health is worth improving.
What Else Will I Experience?
During an elimination diet you will not only help lessen the inflammation within your gut and body as a whole, but you can expect the following:
Begin the Journey of Healing the Gut.
There is no ‘quick fix’ to healing the gut. This is a great start, and with further research, you will be able to continue feeling the benefits.
Find Food Intolerances
Everyone has food intolerances. Not everyone has the same intolerances. You will learn what foods bother you, trigger ailments, or stir up issues you didn’t even know that you had.
Learn Boosting Foods
After noticing what foods bother you, you will notice that some actually give you more energy, help you sleep easier, and boost your mood.
Increase Your Energy
Without foods that inflame your gut, the body works easier and more comfortably. This impacts your energy level positively.
Motivation to Balance your Lifestyle
Good habits generally trigger more good habits. When you start feeling better, you should be drawn toward including more exercise, less alcohol, and more sleep in your life!
Inflammation of the gut is linked to chronic problems throughout the entire body, including neurological and autoimmune disorders. While we continue to wait for the science to catch up to what so many of us have already concluded, we can begin to take charge of our lives, and almost more importantly, our children’s lives.
I’m creating a three-part series on the topic of elimination diets because there are generally three types of individuals who are looking to learn more about them. Adults who are tired of band-aid solutions that cover symptoms, mothers who are exhausted and frustrated with colicky, cranky, diaper-rash-butt babies, and parents who want to figure out what is happening with their children. All three of these people have walked through my office doors. Some find it amazing that something as simply difficult as an elimination diet can change all of their lives.
I’m starting the series with elimination diets for kids because this generation is struggling with gut-inflammation like no generation before them.
Look around and you can see the ever-growing number of children suffering from ADHD, ADD, Autism, Type 1 Diabetes, IBS, Obesity, Cancer, Depression, Anxiety, Sensory and Mood Disorders. While some of these disorders cannot be fully recovered from, they are all linked to a leaky or inflamed gut. As the gut is truly the ‘brain’ of the body, it feeds the real brain and cannot do as intended when it is inflamed and not functioning properly.
One (not so) small example: Researchers have found that putting ADDHD children on a restrictive diet to eliminate possible, previously unknown food sensitivities decreased hyperactivity for 64% of kids.
Children have age on their side, but their young guts may not even know how to be healthy or function correctly. If your child struggles with food allergies/sensitivities, rashes/skin issues, extreme emotions, tantrums, sleep troubles, lack of control, or any of the above mentioned issues, I highly recommend beginning an elimination diet to heal the gut and learn what specifically effects your child.
I am a huge proponent for daily probiotics and utilizing digestive enzymes, but you should get to the root of the issues. We cannot eliminate the environmental toxins from our children’s lives, but we can work to restore gut health and possibly ease their chronic ailments.
What is an Elimination Diet?
It is exactly as it sounds. A diet that takes out foods from the typical diet. Generally all chosen foods are eliminated together and left out until the person begins to feel/act/achieve a ‘normal’ state for a period of time. Once this occurs, foods are very slowly reintroduced, taking extreme note on behaviors, sleep, moods, skin appearance, and overall health. Through the reintroduction stage, you will discover what foods ‘trigger’ or intensify your child’s ailments, symptoms, and disorders.
What Elimination Diet is Right for My Child?
This is where things get hard. There are several diets you can choose from, but there is not a one-size-fits-all magic trick diet. Well, there might be, but many parents opt to go for an easier introduction to the food-eliminating world. The GAPS diet will bring you back to the very root of foods and keep you there until the gut is healed. It then slowly reintroduces foods as you record the body’s reactions. It is a wonderful option, especially if things do not change after eliminating the basic foods.
There are three basic types of elimination diets:
The strict, limited foods “oligoantigenic diet” which eliminates nearly all foods except a limited number that generally cause no problems.
The multiple-food elimination diet removes foods that most commonly cause food sensitivities. Dairy, gluten, wheat, corn, soy, eggs, nuts, citrus, processed foods and artificial colors and flavors top the list of what should be first eliminated.
The single-food elimination diet removes only one or two foods at a time. It is most helpful if you are highly suspicious of one or two items your child is eating. However, this diet typically leads parents into a multiple elimination diet, as it is not as accurate.
You can learn more about diets geared specifically toward ADHD, Autism, and other ailments like the Feingold Diet. You can try a month of Whole30 and see if it leads you to any easy solutions. You can create your own diet if you feel comfortable doing so. However, a diet is not an overnight miracle. It takes 2 weeks or so for the body to detox from the foods it is used to. This detox period can be emotional and extreme, especially when a child is use to consuming food dyes, sugars, and processed items on the regular. Stay strong and committed, keeping other foods out of reach and sight. Once your child reaches ‘baseline’ or what you would consider ‘typical’ for a 3-week timeframe, you can add back in one thing at a time. Reactions (emotional, mental, or physical) can occur up to two days after eating something.
This article can be summed up by the following:
Yes, your body produces the digestive enzymes needed to break food down. That being said, you must ask yourself, “Am I actually eating real food?”
Let me back up for a moment and give you a bit more background information.
Our intestines receive bile and enzymes that work together to break food down to be passed from the body. These enzymes also aid in feeding the body the nutrients from the foods consumed. When everything works as it should, there is no bloating or gas, and bowel movements are regular, easy, and normal. This is typical within the few humans who truly eat a whole foods diet and lead lives unexposed to toxins and stress. As you can understand, that is a very slim margin of people, if any.
Sadly, most children and adults in our society consume processed foods, foods containing pesticides and carcinogens, toxins like dyes that are not even food, and more sugar – in too many forms to name – than could be imagined. It’s easy to find the research that links these bad habits, along side of the environmental toxins known to affect the gut, to the decrease seen in bile and pancreatic enzymes within the intestines. The body cannot properly break them down because they are not meant to be there. The bile is blocked from the intestines, preventing the enzymes to reach and aid in pushing these items from the body – or releasing the nutrients properly throughout the body. This is when constipation and mushy poop start occurring; stomach aches, bloating, gas, heartburn, nausea, discomfort, low energy, and allergy-like reactions, as well. It’s no wonder kids are mean, unfocused, and pretty cranky today. (As are most adults when you really pay attention.) Their guts need mending.
While the true answer is to heal the gut and consume 100% organic whole foods, while also leading a stress-free life outside of toxins, it might be easier said than done. I do truly encourage you to eliminate wheat (all gluten) and dairy, and consider a full elimination diet – even with your children. While doing so, digestive enzymes can still be used to aid in healing the gut.
Digestive enzyme supplementation is all the rage right now, and I am completely in favor of it being added to your vitamin shelf (It can’t go without mentioning that it needs to be a high-quality version). However, it is not a cure all, and should not be depended upon with every meal, every day. It doesn’t make eating fast food okay. The gut should be healthy, and digestive enzymes should be used when foods such as gluten and dairy are consumed to help the body digest them without triggering inflammation.
Irritation to the gut from stress, pollution, pesticides, and processed foods can cause the tiny hair-like structures along the sides of the intestines to become clogged, throwing off the balance of bacteria, stomach acid, and forcing the toxins back through the liver for detoxing. The liver can become congested and trigger a slower and thicker bile and enzyme production. With less of bile and enzymes, it becomes harder and harder for the intestines to do their job well. Taking a digestive enzyme supplies the body with the needed enzymes to break these items down.
Not only do digestive enzymes aid in the digestion process, but they also allow the body to absorb more nutrients. They break food into amino acids, fatty acids, cholesterol (the good kind), simple sugars, and nucleic acids. They also may aid in easing or eliminating chronic symptoms from digestive disorders, which are of course commonly linked to diagnoses such as Gluten Intolerance, IBS, Lactose Intolerance, ADHD, Autism, and even schizophrenia.
In a world where food is more fillers and less nutrients, and a society with sky-rocketing chronic illnesses and autoimmune diseases, a little help through enzyme supplementation provides ample benefits. Digestive enzymes will take the stress off of the stomach, pancreas, liver, gallbladder and small intestine when hard-to-digest foods are consumed, so why not add them to your health arsenal?
While you can find over 40 enzymes currently available; you want to look for a high-quality, broad-spectrum enzyme supplement. This covers the bases and works well with those wanting help in basic digestion and nutrient absorption.
Pooping Should Not be Difficult.
As you have read here before, the use of Miralax is on the rise and sadly, it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. I am extremely disappointed in the medical profession as a whole over the use of this gut-ruining product, and that it is not only being recommended, but that it is being given out as candy and expected to cure all of the poop problems in our younger generation.
I could go on and on about this awful product (again), but today, I want to address something that may aid in everyone’s bathroom troubles. You know that I am a huge fan of elimination diets and healthy lifestyle choices, including preventative care through a chiropractor. I am also a fan of naturally helping the body as it performs its necessary tasks.
This leads me to the topic of poop.
Close to 75% of adults have hemorrhoids either internally or externally, but not all experience disruptive symptoms. By age 50, more than half of Americans have chronic or active hemorrhoid symptoms. What is worse is that bloody stools, strained stools, and digestive pain is affecting younger generations more and more each year. According to the Mayo Clinic, hemorrhoids are caused by straining while having a bowel movement, along with other factors like diet and weight.
If you watch an infant grow into a toddler and begin consistently eating solid foods, you will notice the natural instinct to squat while pooping. Rarely will a toddler run and sit down to have a bowel movement. He would rather stand or squat. This is the point that we begin training him to break his natural instincts and sit on a toilet. Yes, toilets are wonderful. No, I do not want us all squatting in the woods to poop. But just because the toilet works, doesn’t mean that it allows for us to utilize it in a way that aids the body in releasing poop. At least our feet touch the floor though; a toddler or young child is expected to poop easily with his legs dangling.
Bringing a stool into the bathroom, more specifically, a stool meant to fit around the toilet – such as a Squatty Potty – can help every member of the family, even those potty-learning. The idea is simple, and it can make all the difference. The angle at which we are currently pooping at is causing strain, possible pain, and other issues. When we sit, it creates an anorectal angle, which cuts off the flow of the waste being processed. It creates an upward, unnatural pressure on the rectum making it unnecessarily hard to poop. By squatting on the stool, the angle created removes that blockage and allows the waste to pass easier and without strain.
Other problems that come with straining to eliminate body waste:
- Pelvic Floor Issues: Sitting causes extreme pressure on the anorectal angle of the colon causing the colon to protrude into the wall of the vagina. This puts pressure on the pelvic floor and causes unnecessary strain.
- Constipation: Diet plays the largest role in constipation, but improper positioning also triggers this painful ailment.
- Urinary Infections: Research has found that squatting allows you to truly eliminate the bladder with a stronger, more consistent urinary flow reducing risk of UTI’s and bladder infections.
- Colon Disease: Build-up of waste is linked to colon disease. It is important to eliminate completely and often to help reduce the risk of colon cancer.
- Investing in a Squatty Potty or similar bathroom stool will allow your colon to relax and your stool to be released quicker and easier. Your body will thank you! (I recommend the adjustable height stool if you have younger children.)
I was recently asked my medical thoughts on pubic hair and if it truly served a purpose. I am highly aware of the trends today, and have learned that 95% of women are assumed to alter their pubic hair by trimming, shaving, or removing it completely. Over the last two decades, our society has gone from trimming the bikini line to believing that the entire labia and pubic region must be bare to be clean.
This is, of course, not accurate.
While research on this exact topic is hard to come by, there are enough studies and research articles to connect the dots. A 2000 study found that after 4 months of dietary supplementation of selenium, the mercury levels found within the pubic hair of those with low selenium levels dropped by 34% and increased selenium levels in the hair by 73%. This study alone should trigger further cause for research on the true purpose of pubic hair, as these researchers found that pubic hair is connected to the minerals naturally occurring or being supplemented into the body.
Further research links pubic hair to providing the pheromones that attract a sexual mate in life. Every person has an almost undetectable and different hormonal smell, and the pubic hair seems to capture and allow this scent to be utilized as it was meant. Pheromones are the hormones linked to sexual attraction.
Pubic hair is also a sign of maturity, as it occurs throughout puberty. But is does not reach its adult-status of maturity until well after puberty has occurred. The area starts smooth and then develops very fine hairs. These hairs spread over the pubic region, but do not reach the thighs until much later. It has been suggested that once the pubic hair reaches its mature state that it signifies sexual maturity. If one links this theory to the facts known about pheromones, it can be understood that the pubic hair plays an important role hormonally. Testosterone and estrogen (in men and women respectively) increase significantly throughout puberty, triggering pubic hair growth, and level off over the course of a few years. Just because the hormones find a balance does not mean that the pubic hair’s purpose is complete.
Research has found that removing the hair leaves the follicles susceptible for infection and places individuals at a greater risk for chronic irritation. This irritation, combined with the warm, moist environment of the genital area provides the perfect breeding ground for bacterial pathogens such as methicillin resistant staph aureus (MRSA). It has been found that staph boils needing drained due to infection are more common on shaved pubic areas than un-shaved. What is even scarier is that doctors have found staph infections spread from a shaved-person with a boil to the shaved-partner’s skin without ever developing a boil. This is known as cellulitis. It can also be believed that freshly shaved pubic hair follicles are left as tiny open wounds, which leaves them more susceptible to herpes and other sexually transmitted infections.
There is one other reason to let pubic hair be, and that is simply because it is a friction barrier. When skin rubs together, or against certain fibers, it can cause burning, inflammation, and pain. The hair presents a cushion and breaks the friction, keeping the area soothed and happy.
After digging up everything I could find on this topic, I am here to tell you that your pubic hair does indeed have several purposes, and that by removing it, you are not cleaner or healthier. If anything, you are putting yourself at risk of infection and inflammation.
Saging and smudging are terms that can be used interchangeably in our society. While smudging is done by Shamans, the intermediaries between the material world and the spiritual, it is considered the same as ‘saging’ yourself, home, or environment.
No matter your beliefs, there is sometimes an undeniable negative energy to a space. There are also times in which you may choose to simply cleanse a space that belonged to another before you, or recleanse your own surroundings to refocus, re-energize, and feel good again. While some people rearrange furniture, do a deep clean, and take up yoga, many others opt to sage their space. With the start of this new year, I decided to create a more neutral and positive air space in the office.
Shamans use smudges, or bundles of native plants, in sweat lodges and healing rituals, which may be considered if you are pursuing a healthier lifestyle, change in fertility, or chronic ailments. Today, many acupuncturists combine this practice with their own in hopes of cleansing the body to accept treatment more efficiently.
A 2007 study discovered that the Native American practice of smudging showed a positive outcome within this community for those suffering from cardiovascular disease. An early study from 1999 also showed positive health benefits to this ritual. The study compared emergency room patients with healing ritual patients, all with the same chronic ailments. Those who were exposed to the smudging traditions, sweat lodges, and healing ceremonies saw significantly higher rates of increased health than those treated at a hospital. These studies both suggest bridging western medicine with these Native American rituals and healing traditions.
For most of you looking to do a simple cleanse, it is important to know that the herbs and traditions are not meant to be taken lightly. Smudging can be done in a bowl or shell with charcoal, stones, or sand, but most commonly, it is performed with a premade smudge stick of wrapped herbs that you hold and spread smoke with a feather or your hand. It is called ‘washing’ as the smoke washes over the person, walls, or air in need of cleansing. The following herbs are typically found in smudge sticks and can be wrapped on your own if you are interested in doing so. You can create your own combination to include specific herbs not found on this list as well.
· Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
· Mullein (Verbascum thapsus)
· Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
· New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae)
· Calendula (Calendula officinalis)
· Sage (Salvia officinalis)
· Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
· Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis).
· Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinale)
· Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris)
· Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum)
· Big Sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata)
Each of the above herbs has a purpose. Mullein works gently to clear the lungs and make the air more ‘breathable;’ Calendula is an antimicrobial that can aid in healing leaky gut, liver problems, etc but while saging a room, it can act as the healer or the room’s ‘skin.’ Thyme can be smudged to help with physical or emotional pain. It is truly amazing to learn about the history and traditions behind the herbs we overlook every day.