Perfect Poops and How to Get Them
My husband is mortified that I'm writing about this. At least he would be if he knew. Of course, he already knows about my perfect poops (let's call them P2s, ok?). I haven't made him look, but he gets to hear me go, "Wow. That. Is. Bee-YOU-ti-full!" Then I gush about it off and on all day. The topic gives him a pained expression, although he does listen patiently. What can I say, I married well. Learning about P2s was an unexpected bonus of my search for gut health, which is a result of my quest to heal my throat and voice, damaged by a combination of LPR/GERD and the darned respirator, so I can sing again. Oh, and vibrant health. Right, I want that, too, yes. But, honestly? If I could already sing again, I probably wouldn't be on this journey. Color me grateful. Jump to Miralax info (because it's so outrageous that doctors still suggest ANYONE use this, much less children!!! When I started down the gut health path, I wasn't looking for P2s. Heck, I thought I already had them...
What is a Perfect Poop (P2)?
According to the Bristol Stool Scale, a P2 is a Type 4, with 5 being a close second. For the last few years, since eating a 90% real food WAPF diet, I'm a consistent 5. Lately, well, I hate to brag, but apparently I've attained true perfection in this one area of my life because I'm now a consistent 4. Not something to brag about at parties, but, hey, I'll take it.
How Do You Get P2s?
I'm so glad you asked! You will be, too, I can guarantee it. The state of your stool reflects the state of your overall health. Basically, there are two roads to P2s: the fast track well-traveled road (the least healthful). And the long-term less-traveled road (far more healthful).
Road 1: the Fast Track
Fiber, good old fashioned fiber. If you are surprised to hear this is the least healthful path, I'm right there with you. The notion goes against everything we all thought we knew about colon health. But more on this in a moment. There are basically two ways we add fiber to our diets: eat more fiber-rich foods or use a fiber supplement. Most every conventional doctor recommends fiber as the solution to less than perfect poops. It appears fiber is another topic -- like statins, cholesterol, GMOs and the food pyramid -- where conventional medicine has it exactly WRONG. While most doctors do realize that actual foods contain fiber <sarcasm>, they almost NEVER recommend food as a healing protocol. (You don't want people knowing food heals! Where's the money in that?) Conventional doctors recommend "medicine" like Metamucil or -- heaven help us -- Miralax.
Miralax is what my 84 yo mother's young doctor recommended she take for constipation. I was there and said I was "not happy with Miralax." I was trying to be diplomatic even though I'm sure my face read, "You are an idiot." He assured me that it's very safe, so safe, in fact, that he regularly gave it to his 7 yo daughter!!! He was sincere, not smug or self-righteous at all (like I was)... I thought I was going to explode, because Miralax is actually dangerous:
I came right home and emailed him that article. To his great credit, he read it, thanked me and said he had NO IDEA there were such negative consequences to Miralax! While I'm pleased to have made a difference with an actual real-life doctor, I'm appalled that the stuff is still for sale.
Fiber supplementation is how I initially came to hit the perfect 4 and got started on this learning curve. It happened quite by accident because of my smoothie.
Psyllium Husk Powder
The main ingredient in most fiber supplements is psyllium husk powder. That's what I USED TO USE in my smoothie, except mine was organic. The recommended dose of PHP is 1 Tbsp. That's WAY too much and, before discovering that PHP was not a healthy choice, I cut all the way down to a tsp... How I first came to fiber was looking for gut health when I stumbled on the resistant starch protocol. PHP is included not to give you P2s, but to help the resistant starch do its gut-bacteria-factory work more efficiently. Here's where I get to wax poetic on my favorite topic:
Sidebar: Treating the Symptom ("Band-Aids") vs. Healing the Cause
When we discover a chink in the armor, we either put a band-aid on it (treat the symptom) or look for what caused the chink in order to repair it most effectively. Quickie health solutions are often band-aids with consequences down the road. Here's a good band-aid example: you take acetominiphen (band-aid) for a headache (chink) not realizing how damaging the drug is to your liver (consequence). Or you take magnesium (band-aid) to relieve constipation (chink) not realizing that -- as wonderful as magnesium is -- it's not healing the chink. You feel better though so the consequence is that you stop looking for the cause! Here's a good healing example: you discover the cause of the headache is a food allergy, you stop eating the food and don't need acetominiphen. You discover the cause of the constipation is hydration, you drink more water and don't need the mag to make ya go. (You might still take mag and our bodies certainly need mag, but lack of mag is rarely the sole CAUSE of constipation!) Band-aid vs healing... HUGE difference! In my case, fiber was the band-aid. I applied the band-aid first and it showed me where the chink was: my digestion! The question is: do I continue with the band-aid, getting short-term relief with possible (some say likely) consequences down the road? Or do I investigate the chink, find the cause and repair that for the long haul? You know me: although I love being lazy, I can't stand not knowing what's really happening!
Option 2: The Long-Term (most healthful) Road
I'm definitely in for the long haul and already on the path to repair my chink. Here's the real solution to having P2s:
A healthy gut produces P2s naturally. Why? Because a healthy gut is populated with a ABUNDANCE of healthy bacteria!
As Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride explains in her book, Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS): "The beneficial bacteria that normally populate the bowel play a crucial role in proper stool formation and elimination. The most numerous species of friendly bacteria in a healthy bowel are Bifidobacteria and physiological strains of E. coli. These microbes produce a whole host of enzymes and other active substances, whose action is essential in proper stool formation. They stimulate the wall of the bowel to produce mucus for lubricating the stool and for passing it out as soon as it is ready."
That's it. Pretty simple: repopulate your gut. Here's how:
Eat good quality salt for the minerals!
No junk food, no GMOs, no processed or prepared food, no sugar. Replace sugar with (in order of preference): raw honey (we love this) or organic sugar (like this -- if you have a Costco, they will have a good deal). Palm and coconut sugar are both wonderful as long as you are buying sustainable and not from companies that are cutting down the rainforests!!! If you have blood sugar or weight management issues, substitute Stevia.
Eat organic. Pesticides and herbicides are not good for your gut... imagine that.
Drink bone broth and use it in your cooking. Here's how to make it, easy! The more, the better, you cannot "O.D." on bone broth.
Get as much good fat into your diet as possible: organic olive oil, coconut oil, grass-fed butter, eggs, lard - eat it, cook with it, put it in your butter coffee!
Eat grass-fed/finished, hormone-free, antibiotic-free meats, eggs
Eat fermented foods, at least a bite/short glass a day:
Eat nutrient dense foods -- this is a fabulous cookbook: Nourishing Traditions as much primer as cookbook!
Flood your gut with good bugs. My heal-your-gut-smoothie fits right in here: a healthy gut has prolific healthy flora. The entire reason for the smoothie is to increase healthy flora.
Sidebar: 80/20 Rule
I realize that, while the list is simple, implementation is not always. I am so there!!! We follow the 80/20 rule. 80% of the time, we are consistent. 20% of the time, we fall off the wagon -- sometimes by accident, sometimes on purpose. Here's the thing: the more you do, the better your health becomes. The better your health becomes, the more you're willing to do. Not to mention that the better you feel, the better you look. I find that very motivating! Resources
Kathryn Pirtle, scroll down to "The High-Fiber Dictate : Part of the Problem"
While we are not focused on constipation, this article has a ton of good info!
Cookbook and real foods primer: Nourishing Traditions
Tom Cowan, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (about more than that)
P.S. Coincidentally, my friend and sister blogger Tash wrote this post on home-made poo-pourri. It is just too perfect not to share, right?