How much should we poop? This question, believe it or not, is on my mind quite a bit. I find the whole process of digestion really fascinating—always have. I’ll spare you my personal bowel movement history, although those of you who know me have most likely heard all about it, but I will tell you I was in complete shock to discover that not everyone poops everyday! Say what? As Kris Carr puts it in her book, Crazy Sexy Diet, “If you aren’t having abundant bowel movements on a daily basis, then you’re full of shit, lady.”
The minimum target fecal output is 200 grams, or about ½ pound per day. Sadly, the average American leaves less than 100 grams per day in the loo. Vegetarians however, and vegans in particular, are fairing much better when it comes to the amount of poo their putting out.
Not to brag, but us veg heads not only poop more, but our poo is also healthier in form. The ideal poo is a 4 on the Bristol Stool Chart:
You know what I’m talking about…that amazing type four number two feels like heaven. Our bodies should be doing that AT LEAST once a day but ideally after each meal. Unfortunately, most Americans aren’t crappin’ as much as they should and as a result, their insides are all gunked up. Imagine for a moment that you and Ms. Frizzle are on a Magic School Bus journey through the digestive system. If it’s an average American, they have 7-10 pounds of… wait for it….rotting poo hanging out in their intestines. That’s a of dung for Ms. Frizzle to navigate through.
Okay, so someone who is not pooping regularly might be carrying around some extra weight in the form of fecal matter but what does it matter otherwise? Well, in the short term, that clogged up food stagnates, rots, and hardens, causing problems like constipation (been there, not fun), upset stomach (who needs it?), cramping (ouch), a weakened immune system (no good, not ever), and depression (seriously, I’ll do just about anything to avoid this one). Basically, when the pipes are clogged, the whole house starts to come apart.
Those are just the short-term downers of not going potty enough. Imagine what happens in the long run if you have gunked up insides? Colon cancer and other crazy scary diseases can develop if you’re not taking care of your digestive system.
What causes the back up and how can you avoid it?
The Standard American Diet, high in animal fats and proteins, dairy, refined sugar, and low in fiber is the culprit. In order to keep our digestive system clear and doing its job (keeping us healthy), we’ve got to give it what it needs. Eating a diet loaded with fibrous vegetables, fruit, and whole grains (especially unprocessed ones), and legumes will do the trick.
If you’re current diet is high in animal products, sugar, and processed food and not so great on the fiber, ease into it. If you all of the sudden dump copious amounts of fiber into a digestive system that’s been dealing with not so healthy choices for years, you’ll be very uncomfortable (read gas-a-thon/poop-a-thon). Start by adding an extra serving of fresh vegetables to your day like a green leafy salad with lunch or dinner. Once your body adjust, phase in a fruit smoothie with a serving of flaxseeds.
Keep making small changes until your body is screaming, “Oh yes, fiber! Greens! Flax! Oh Baby, Oh Baby!” and you’re hitting the pot a few times a day to give the ol’ colon a little (not too little…) release.
Make note of how you feel as your poop cycles begin to change. Here’s what I notice when I’m flowing properly : more energy, a lighter feeling, hunger and satiety signals are more acute, less bloatedness, I feel damn sexy (and a little sassy, too).
Any good poop stories?