What Is Your Stool Telling You about your health? Nobody likes to talk about bowel movements. As a Clinical Nutritionist in practice for over 15 years I was taught many years ago that your stool can be an invaluable source of information about what may be going on in the body. It’s a standard question in my initial consultation with every client and I usually have to come right out and ask as most people leave that section of the health history form blank. It’s not the easiest subject to bring up and I wasn’t crazy about asking my clients in the early years but I quickly learned how important it is diagnostically. Many poor health conditions stem from poor elimination in some way.
Since checking out your stool is a free and easy way for a person to figure out what may be going on with their digestive health – and most people do take a peek and probably are wondering what it means, for example, when they have a greasy yellowish stool. Well, it can be a sign of pancreas dysfunction, pancreatitis or an inability to absorb the nutrients in your foods. I decided to write an article on stool testing to educate the public and to take the “weirdness” out of it, replaced, with the ” importance” of it.
First of all, for healthy digestion and elimination a person should have a bowel movement 1-3 times a day. Yes, a day. I’ve had clients come to me and say that they have “normal” digestion and that they go 2 times a week regularly. That is not normal under any circumstances. It’s constipation. Some people say they go every hour and that isn’t normal either, it’s diarrhea. Ideally a person should have a bowel movement shortly after each meal. Normal transit time is about 12 hours. Most Americans don’t eliminate as often as they should.
A healthy bowel movement should be light to medium brown, shaped like a small banana but without the curve, light enough to float and not drop to the bottom of the toilet bowl, it should be formed (not liquid or runny) and easy to pass with no pain or straining. If this sounds like your stools, you are doing well. If not, maybe you recognize some of the issues below.
- Stools that are too large can be a sign of lactose or casein intolerance. Both casein and lactose are found in dairy products like cheese and milk and can cause digestive pain and symptoms in many people.
- Stools that are hard and pebble like can be a sign of poor liver and gallbladder function and or a lack of digestive enzymes. Both large and hard stools as well as diarrhea can lead to straining and possibly hemorrhoids.
- Thin stringy or flattened looking stools can be a sign of a polyp or other obstruction that causes a narrowing of the elimination pathway. This is also present with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (I.B.S.) and spastic colon.
- Stools that are greasy, fatty and messy and leave a film or grease in the toilet can be a sign of pancreas dysfunction, pancreatitis or an inability to absorb the nutrients in your foods.
- Pale, grayish or light yellow colored stools can indicate liver and gallbladder problems.
- Dark black stools could mean bleeding in the digestive track. Stools with blood or mucous can be sign of ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, hemorrhoids or even colon cancer.
See your physician right away if there’s blood in your stool. While some of these issues are diet related and should be discussed with an experienced nutritionist, many more could be serious health concerns and you should see a doctor as soon as possible. Make that priority number one.
A healthy stool should not be extremely strong and foul smelling. The worse it smells the higher degree of bowel toxicity is present. Poor diet alone can cause odor problems but other health issues can contribute. The odor may signal a lack of the healthy bacteria like acidophilus and bifidobacterium (also called probiotics) your gut needs to stay balanced and to assist in the digestion and assimilation of the foods you eat, or you may have an overgrowth of unhealthy yeast or bacteria such as Candida Albicans. If you are having an issue with serious odor or chronic diarrhea or constipation a stool test from a specialty lab like Genova Diagnostics can give you a credible report of what is going on in your gut. Your Physician or Nutritionist should be able to get the testing done and interpret the results for you. Either way – take a look at what’s going on, and if you have one of the on the list go see a health specialist and get it checked out.
If you would like me to perform your stool test follow the directions below. Until next time…best of health to all and remember to listen to “What Your Stool Is Telling You.” – Juli !
E-mail me at [email protected] or [email protected] letting me know you are interested in testing. I will e-mail you a health history and symptom assessment to help determine which test would be most helpful for you.
I will have you pay by check or credit card using Paypal. See each test for prices.
I will have the test kit and instructions sent directly to you.
When you receive the test kit, you will follow instructions to collect the stool sample/s. You will FedEx it to the lab via the pre paid envelope. Be sure to keep your testing box as it will be sent back to the lab with the samples inside of it. Write your name and Juli Keene on the test kit box somewhere on the top of the outside.
The lab will analyze your stool specimens and send the results to the office. The results are sent to me and we will schedule your 30- minute phone or e-mail consult with Juli Keene, CN to review the results and your options. You will receive a copy of test results and a printed summary of your consultation.
The testing takes about 14-21 business days from the day the lab receives your sample kit for us to receive the results and contact you for a consultation.
The complete costs are listed next to each test. Cost includes the test kit, lab services, a printed copy of lab results and interpretation, and a 30- minute review of findings with Juli Keene, Licensed Clinical Nutritionist and a printed summary of our consult and your plan.
Juli Keene B.Sc, CN is not a physician. She does not diagnose or treat disease. This information is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified healthcare professional and is not intended to provide medical advice. For medical advice, always seek a physician. This information is intended solely as a sharing of knowledge and information based upon the experience and research of Juli Keene, CN and Nutrition Solutions
by Juli Keene, B.S.c, CN,
Licensed Clinical Nutritionist
© Hemorrhoid Information Center 2009