Some people think it's gross, I know. But when it comes to gut health, talking about bowel movements becomes a necessity.
Your stool can give you important information about the health of your intestines, so paying attention to your stool is important when working on getting rid of pesky digestive issues, like the excess gas, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation, all symptoms that we commonly see at Oswald Digestive Clinic.
In case your eyes haven't veered over yet, I'd like to draw your attention to the poop chart below, otherwise known as the Bristol Stool Chart.
In this chart, poop is categorized into seven categories.
Type 1, on the top, is a sign of major constipation (you should be having 1-3 bowel movements daily!) And at the other extreme, type 7 is a sign of diarrhea.
The ideal types?
Number 3 and 4. Chinese Medicine describes the perfect poo as a long, easy to pass snake.
If you are not a type 3 or 4, there can be a variety of root causes affecting your digestive health. As Hippocrates, the founder of modern medicine one said, "All Disease Begins in the Gut". I encourage you to start paying attention to what types of stool you are having.
Below, I talk about 3 Root Causes of Poor Gut Health. At the end of this article, I will share more information about what you can do to improve your gut health, which often improves the enjoyment of life.
#1 The Standard American Diet
Did you know that there is research showing that an anti-inflammatory diet can result in improvement in Inflammatory Bowel Disease? We have seen this over and over at Oswald Digestive clinic.
Further, there is research showing that a Mediterranean diet can reduce pain and increase physical function for those struggling with rheumatoid arthritis. I even have a client who was able to cut her medication to 1/5 of what it was, with using complimentary nutrition therapy (functional nutrition, which is what we practice at Oswald Digestive Clinic)!
Lastly, it is known that the foods you eat can rapidly and reproducibly alter your gut microbiome (the bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and viruses that naturally reside in our gut). And the gut microbiome, we are learning, can influence diseases from joint disease, depression, metabolic issues, weight, and more.
At Oswald Digestive Clinic, we focus in on optimizing gut health, and often see improvement in a wide range of other symptoms like muscle aches and pains, brain fog, headaches, and more.
If you are not giving your gut the nutrients it needs from food, you will likely start to see negative side effects from this.
#2 Nutrient Deficiencies
To piggyback on #1, if you are not eating nutrient-dense foods (or, maybe you grew up on nutrient-poor foods), there is a good chance you have some nutrient deficiencies. Or, maybe your gut is unhealthy, and you aren’t absorbing nutrients properly. This could lead to low levels, too.
Research shows that adequate levels of important nutrients like zinc, glutamine, vitamin D, choline, magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin A, and more are important to maintain a healthy gut. A low level in any one of these might be compromising your gut and contributing to symptoms.
At Oswald Digestive Clinic, we have seen people get rid of symptoms they had for years, simply by replacing their micronutrient levels. One individual saw a significant improvement in energy after replacing their low vitamin B12, another got rid of debilitating anxiety after replacing serine and magnesium, and a third got rid of life-long headaches after magnesium replacement.
#3 Lack of Digestive Function
The digestive tract starts in the mouth and ends at the anus. Everything in between works together with the goal of breaking down food as best as possible to provide your body with important nutrients to function optimally.
Are you chewing your food properly? Are you making adequate stomach acid? If you are on a stomach acid suppressing medication, this is putting you at risk for micronutrient deficiencies.
Oswald Digestive Clinic has worked with many individuals and their doctors to use nutrition therapy to improve stomach health, so that our clients can work with their doctors to taper down their stomach acid medication (proton pump inhibitors, H2 Blockers, and even just getting off a Tums habit).
The liver, gallbladder, and pancreas are all important in providing enzymes and bile salts to break down food, and the wall of the intestine in itself contributes some enzymes to help with food break down and absorption.
Consider this, though. What if you have inflammation in your gut, as is seen in individuals with Crohn’s and other diseases? Well, the gut is compromised. This often leads to nutrient deficiencies. Which further prevents the gut from healing properly. And can end people in a downward health spiral.
Health is so important in allowing us to continue doing the things we love to do in life right up until it's our time to pass on. Getting our digestion to be strong and healthy is without question one of the best ways to maintain and even improve quality of life, while preventing chronic diseases.
Interested to learn more?
CLICK HERE to Download Oswald Digestive Clinic’s FREE Guide on 5 Ways To Improve Gut Health And End Food Intolerances For Good.
Or, if you are struggling with gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and/or other gut and autoimmune symptoms, you are welcome to book a FREE 15-minute meet-and-greet call.
This Is For You If:
You struggle with getting bloated or extra gassy after eating
Your bowel movements are not a #3 or 4 on the Bristol Stool Chart
You have been diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (or Crohn’s, UC, SIBO, Colitis, and others) and are still struggling with bothersome symptoms
You are confused by the endless amounts of nutrition information on the internet, and want a dietitian to create a personalized nutrition plan with and for you, to help you feel your best
You have never seen a functional medicine dietitian before
Dietitians, on average, have completed 7 years of schooling in nutrition science. If some of this information is new to you, and you’re wondering why your doctor hasn’t shared this, it’s simply because doctors on average <20 hour of schooling in nutrition science.
This should give you hope, as there’s likely a lot Oswald Digestive Clinic could work with you on, so that you can optimize your health and get rid of your bothersome symptoms.
We believe investing in health is one of the best investments a person can make. CLICK HERE to book.
About the Author: Ashley Oswald, RDN, IFNCP, CNSC, CLT, LD
Ashley has completed training from Harvard's Brigham and Women's Hospital, the University of Minnesota, and the Integrative and Functional Nutrition Academy (7 years of formal education in nutrition science).
Her passion for digestive health stems from her own journey using functional nutrition (food and lifestyle medicine) to recover from severe acne, years of antibiotic use, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, brain fog, fatigue, major depression, and Hashimoto's thyroid disease. Digestion truly is at the center of health and can affect other organs if not cared for properly.
Ultimately, Ashley is passionate about empowering others with the knowledge and tools needed to take charge of their own health, in return relying less on the medical system.
Outside of the clinic, you can find Ashley kayaking, practicing kundalini or vinyasa yoga, biking, enjoying live music, traveling, rock climbing, dancing, or simply spending time with friends / family / community.