A year and a half ago poop was a serious problem. It was, to say the very least, one of the most difficult times of my life. Embarrassed and ashamed, there were few people I felt comfortable discussing this sensitive issue with. Aggressive scar tissue had returned from my from many cancer surgeries and nearly blocked my descending colon and a piece of small bowel. The only way to release the monster inside me was an elaborate process which I won’t detail but you can YouTube it and learn from Krystal.
Looking back, I would have done ANYTHING to alleviate the feeling of a weeks worth of evil trapped inside my poor belly.
Elvis: Did you know the King died with an impressive 30 pounds of stool trapped inside his colon from a severe opioid addiction, poop that was 4-5 months old. Have mercy!
Today times have changed my ways. I met the right doctor. A year after laparoscopic lysis of adhesions (the surgical clearing away of scar tissue) some visceral belly massage, and supplements- I am finally golden. I poop like superman. Every morning one of my 5 things I write in my gratitude journal, is pooping. Period. The end.
This got me thinking… how many other people have problems pooping? Maybe not just me? Beyond that, what exactly is the right amount of pooping? How many times should I go? What color should it be? With all of these questions floating in my head there is only one thing to do. I decided to spend a few weeks studying poop and lay down a standard for the act rated just below great sex by Woody Allen.
Some people don’t want to talk about poop. I do. It’s time to get dirty and try to assist anyone out there struggling with constipation. Maybe I can even do a part two for explosive diarrhea (okay, let’s not get ahead of ourselves).
First off, here’s some poop facts you may find fascinating in understanding of the “Art of the Poop.”
“You say Potato…I say Poop”
Number One: Poop is about 75% water while the other 25% solid matter. Of the 25% solid matter it’s interesting to note 30 percent consists of dead bacteria; about 30 percent consists of indigestible food matter such as cellulose; 10 to 20 percent is cholesterol and other fats; 10 to 20 percent is inorganic substances such as calcium phosphate and iron phosphate; and 2 to 3 percent is protein.
Number Two: Poop retains it’s brown color from the action between our gut bacteria and bilirubin or (bile pigment) secreted from the liver and gallbladder. The color is an end product of the breakdown of hemoglobin (red blood cells.) While brown is normal…..so is green, and even yellow especially for breast feeding babies.
Colors of note are Red or Black which could indicate bleeding in the stomach, colon, or large/small intestine.
Green can indicate an extra amount of bile in your stool or the consumption of excessive greens. White or pale stool can be caused by common anti diarrhea medicines but can also be insufficient bile (a problem in the liver or gallbladder). At times this could also be caused by a serious blockage from stones or a mass. Seek medical attention if these abnormal colors remain for more than a few days.
For more detail in-depth reading on Poo and it’s rainbow shades of investigative fortune telling read this Click Here
Size Matters (that’s what she said) or in this case Shape: The goal for your poop is a long “S” shaped log with good firmness and unbroken pieces. The ideal form of your poo will correlate with this Bristol stool chart” Our goal is a number four. Feel free to run with the hash tag this week #ibend4sonthebristol.
Variations on this Gold standard of turd can indicate too little fiber (which acts as a glue to hold your shit together, literally). Small pencil thin poop can sometimes point to a blockage like rectal cancer. Look before you flush and keep a poop journal when tracking data for a better toilet experience. Variation in shape and size are common but you are looking to trend towards a 4 on the Bristol.
“Remember you can’t change what you don’t track. Establishing a pattern or baseline is key to knowing your digestive habits.”
Remember above all fun facts… Pooping is life. The pathway from mouth to anus is our most intimate contact with the outside world. It’s where the outside world meets inside. When elimination happens in a timely fashion food can be digested and broken down into nutrients. The waste matter we cannot use is sent forth to the earth to be recycled in the circle of life. Think of a vibrant wild river flowing constantly and now imagine a stagnant pond (seems like a better metaphor for sustaining life). For me, it’s the flowing river with clear, clean water as opposed to the murky waters of algae filled pond. Visualizing the same picture for a good functioning colon is good practice in morning meditation. The last thing we want is for the toxins being rejected from the body to be reabsorbed in the colon for an extended stay.
Doesn’t the word constipation bring on feelings of anxiety and fear? I hated starting my day without letting the evil leave my lovely colon. It was uncomfortable and directly correlated to a defeated mindset for the entire day.
Fun Fact: Constipation can be defined as anything less than 1 large movement a day. But remember we are wildly different people and normal is simply a sample set where a majority falls into the middle of the bell curve. You will know what is right for your body. I know many people who don’t go every day and feel fine. On the same hand I have friends that feel “bad” if they go anything less than twice. Listen to your body and go forth knowing your health poop movement frequency.
Checklist for avoiding and dealing with constipation:
Checklist for avoiding and dealing with constipation:
1: Drink your water with a side of minerals. A guideline is to take your body weight in pounds and divide it by two. This is your number in ounces of daily clean H20. So at 171 pounds I would be shooting for roughly 86 ounces of water. I add an additional 8oz. of water for every cup of coffee and an extra 16-20 ounces for activities such as weight training, dance class, or yoga.
A big item people miss on water consumption is quality and hydrating properties. If you are pounding water all day and making your pee very clear….know that you can also leech away valuable minerals from your system. Try adding 6-8 drops of a trace mineral supplement to each serving of water and you will be astounded by your athletic performance. Trace Minerals
2. A Diet filled with natural foods and a moderate amount of fiber: This is a hot topic and you are going to find different opinions from everyone you speak with. While some doctors regurgitate the idea that fiber fixes everything the science is weak on this statement. Fiber will add bulk to your stool and help retain a health amount of water for ease of elimination, while too much can be dangerous and very painful.
Fun Fact: A shockingly high number of people actually die each year from supplements like Psyllium Husk which can add so much bulk you can tear your colon. So the risk/reward option on this would be negated for me personally. Keep in mind this is very rare.
I believe if we look to hunter/gatherer societies (who display some of the lowest numbers with chronic disease) we can learn a great deal. Their fiber sources are mostly found in starch root vegetables and green roughage. Foods like broccoli, steamed Kale, and Brussels sprouts actually act as little brooms that sweep the inside of your colon. Additionally your body knows how to break down berries, melon, sprouts, clean fresh water protein and grass fed meats and eggs. Food from a box with stabilizers meant to keep everything “edible for years” is another story. Shop from the peripherals of the grocery store.
3. Try fat. Our society has vilified fat in the standard American diet and it’s a problem. Organic healthy fats like those from coconut oil, olive oil, and Ghee are great for energy and say it with me lubrication the colon. Try a tablespoon of of MTC oil on salads or over fruit for a better poop. Even better than MTC is this super clean form of coconut oil which also boosts cognitive function. Brain Octane Oil
4. Walking for Pooping: The structure of the human digestive works best when you are in movement. Life is in motion and human body works best when in this state. Try going for a 20-25 minutes walk after eating instead of a two hour Netflix session on the couch. This helps digestion and helps move food through the digestive track. The natural motion of a walking patter moves the hips in a figure “8.” In this way we massage the lower organs with a gentle heel-toe-stride and let the body move how it will. I shoot for a minimum of 30 minutes after a meal. If you don’t have 30 then do 10; something is better than nothing.
5. Digestion starts in the mouth: A majority of crucial digestive enzymes are secreted from the glands in the mouth, and not the stomach. Taking your time to eat will greatly impact how you poop. Experts recommend 30 chews per bite. Increasing the number of chews before swallowing reduces meal size by up to nearly 15 percent
6. Meditate to Eliminate: Chronic stress is one of the most underlying causes of failure to go number two. The brain and the gut develop from the same cell in the early stages of life. This is why we call our gut the second brain. You actually make more serotonin from the intestine than previously suggested areas in the brain. Serotonin=the happy chemical. Meditation tones the Vagus Nerve which runs through the human body and acts as the main circuit breaker for our nervous system. When the human body is in a constant state of fight or flight it’s difficult and near impossible to poop. The Vagus nerve is connected to everything: see below
Shoot for a simple 20-minute meditation once or twice a day. People are often shocked that without a medicine or laxative how effective this technique can be and it’s completely free. Find what works for you. There’s guided, mantra, or breath work meditation- all worth a try.
7. The Micro Biome: The bacteria living in our digestive track and inside the human body outnumber human cells ten to one so it’s funny to think about the idea of who is controlling who. Support this essential ecosystem with a good probiotic daily and more when in times of great stress or after a course of antibiotics. My two favorite brands are linked below.
3.Gold standard: Custom Probiotics for those with access to disposable income
Excellent food sources which contain beneficial bacteria are fermented kraut and keifer. You will be shocked how great these work to increase the quality, shape, size and texture of your stool.
8. Magnesium: Magnesium is often referred to as the master supplement because it’s vital to nearly 250 processes in the human body. From cell division to metabolism, energy production and hydration, this is a nutrient that nearly 75% of Americans are deficient in.
*You can test this with your doctor by asking for a RBC magnesium test.
This supplement which comes in many forms is most helpful for pooping when consumed in the following two forms: magnesium citrate and magnesium oxalate. The brand I use, called Magnesium Calm brews into a wonderful warm nighttime dink and has always brought about a sense of relation and calming right before bed. I am religious about this one and everything works better when I stick to the habit. It’s very affordable and it’s also offered in travel packets for those world explorers such as myself.
Magnesium Oxide is the big gun I turn to when I can’t seem to keep things moving. Often traveling across country, jet lag and excessive sitting are death to my pooping schedule. While the recommended starting dose is 5 caps I find taking 1 to 2 capsules of Mag 07 before bed on an empty stomach never fails. It. Never. Effing. Fails.
Trust me, the last thing I want on the first day of rehearsal is a colon full of poop when I’m trying to drop into the creative flow or meeting new cast member for the first time. That light as a feather feeling…”I just dropped off 2.5 pounds of fecal matter upon rising” is the bee’s knees. I feel open, free and ready to connect.
9. Mechanics and Massage:
Knowing the pathway of your food will allow you to assist in the bodies natural pathway of elimination. Let’s first locate where the small intestine attaches to your colon, this is half way between your right hip and belly button. Consider this (illeocecal valve) the starting point for our colonic massage.
Before bed start at the base of the colon on your lower right side, slowly trace and palpate gently continuing up the ascending colon…across the transverse and then down the descending colon. Follow the big pink tube:
Try using a quarter size drop of castor oil mixed with 2-3 drops of peppermint oil. This has given me a bowel movement within 30 minutes and it’s a great alternative to harsh laxatives.
10. Squat on the pot: The proper alignment for pooping is the deep squat. The traditional American and European toilet which places the hips and legs at a 90 degree angle tightens the puborectalis muscle around the last kink in the colon. This stops the body from fully eliminating. A deep squat (the way most people poop in Asia) allows for perfect alignment. Now while the seat of your traditional American toilet was not made to support your weight perched on top…..science and the holistic health community has come up with a device to fix this engineering challenge.
I own one, every member of my family has been gifted this blessing of technology and it comes in a variety of colors, shapes and sizes. Christmas, birthdays, and weddings….everyone wins.
11. Diagnostic testing: When my digestion and elimination got really bad I had to work outside of the box. When Physical therapy and conventional doctors failed ( all of whom prescribed over the couter laxatives) I sought out a functional medicine doctor and through his guidance took a detailed look at what was happening as far as the community of bacteria making up my colon’s super friends. Doctors can identify harmful colonies of C. Difficile (which can cause hospitalization level Diarrhea), extremely low levels of beneficial bacteria, or parasites. All of the above can also add to low-level inflammation of the colon and cause more serious problems down the road such as cancers, Crones disease, diverticulitis and chronic infection. Your health care professional can easily order a stool sample taken with a home kit and in a few weeks you can have some great information on how to treat your specific issues without throwing everything but the kitchen sink at your sad colon.
These tests are simple, painless and you can scratch off mailing your poop through the U.S. mail system from the Bucket List.
Another good test for digestive issues is ruling out SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth). In this scenario species meant to exist in the colon spread beyond the illeocecal valve leading into the small intestine and populate the field we digest food. Ideally, this part of the digestive track must have very few species of bacteria and is for the most part sterile. When bacteria from the colon starts to invade the bodies’ process of fermentation, the small tube intended for nutrient absorption produces very bad gas pain. One hour after eating I would be found curled up on my living room floor. This went on for years until I was properly diagnosed and treated the issue with herbal formulation (not antibiotics) which remained a short term fix for me.
This test will come from gastroenterologist and is relatively easy to perform at home. If you are suffering from a blanket diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome i.e. a doctors label for “I don’t know what the fuck is going on!” I would look here first.
12. Women on the Pot and Castor Oil.
I wanted to throw in this fun fact for all my female readers about the relationship between monthly cycles and constipation or it’s nasty cousin Diarrhea. During a woman’s period when the uterus becomes inflamed it’s location and close proximity to the colon can cause a change in bowl habits. This increase in size the uterine wall will actually press against the colon and can cause horrible constipation. Guess what? There is a hack for that!
Enter the Castor Oil pack. Combined with heat, castor oil has the ability to penetrate deep through muscle and skeletal tissue and release inflammation and move stuck blood flow. Simply fill a hot water bottle or grab a heating pad. Next, in liberal fashion apply castor oil to a piece of flannel soaking it through. Lay the flannel over the tender area on the stomach. Place a piece of plastic over the flannel and the hot water bottle on top. You’ve made a messy oil sandwich but in a half an hour I promise you’ll feel great. Enjoy the ride for for 20-30 minutes while relaxing, watching Netflix or better yet… meditating. For an extra colon boost start with a 20 minute session over the liver located just under the right rib cage. This practice will move bile and toxins from the body and boost liver functioning. As a result, most people experience a large bowel movement. Try a castor oil Pack
Here is a great video step-by-step if you are into a detailed video description.
13. Colonics: Another method to clean out the pipes and start over is the time tested colonic. Do your research and find a highly rated and well reviewed practitioner. This method washes the colon out from the bottom up and can release old fecal matter and food parts stuck in the folds of the colon. While this sounds extreme I have tried it many times and I always feel great post session. This is a once in a while practice with added probiotics after a session (you also wash away the good with the bad).
My 5 star gold letter recommendation is “Doody Free Girls” Located in Jersey City. This a shop owned by my friend Jen and she loves all things poops. I promise if you are considering a colonic or wonder if they would work for you she will take care of all your pooping needs. Please let Jen Clean out your shit… she loves it!
Mention you read about her from Freddie Set Go and you’ll receive a free gift!
14. Next level Shit: The Fecal Transplant
For those who are really suffering and I know you are out there because I was an outlier who needed more than a simple checklist of poo do’s and do nots. I promise there is hope. As we speak science has developed a process to transplant a health stool sample into a patient with chronic C-Diff infection and come up with a 91 percent success rate. This is an incredible rate of success and it’s a drug free option. How much more low tech can you get than mixing up a poop milkshake and redepositing the pay-dirt? I know that was an intense visual. Like science and want to read about this life saving new pub med study? click it
Friends- I know that was long winded, but there is too much information to be presented in order to be an effective article. What I originally intended to be 5 or 6 bullets quickly accumulated into pile of important information from my notes and personal experiences over the last few years.
As I always say, “While I have played a doctor on stage, I am not one in real life.” Consult a physician before you self treat or make up your own at home fecal transplant.
Am I kidding? Maybe?
I love all feedback and your continued support online. Read, share and ask questions. You’d will sincerely be shocked by how a good practice in every day living can improve bowel habits which in turn yield a better life. I know it has for me. For this time, that’s all I’ve got.