While the body is a totally amazing piece of work, let’s face it, sometimes it’s gross too. There are things that happen, processes that occur, and incidents that just make us want to cringe or gag. That is totally ok, but it is NOT an excuse to ignore what is going on with your body. Most of the time, this is your body’s way of informing you of what is happening. I have been learning/reading a lot about digestion and the gut these past few weeks and just by the nature of the beast, there are some unpleasant topics that arise. A few years ago I was much more likely to ignore or not even notice the problem and just go on with my life not realizing I was missing important warning signs. I don’t want that to happen to you as well, so, because I am such a good person, I want to share some signs you might be missing or trying to ignore. The sooner you can pinpoint these problems, the faster you can start working towards a healthier gut and a healthier you. Yes, some of this stuff might seem “yucky” and embarrassing (on my part), but some times you gotta deal with the yuck to get to the good.
Poop. Yup, I said it and I meant it. This is one of your best indicators of gut health. Yes, no one WANTS to talk about poop. Polite people don’t just go up to some one at a party and start talking about their bowel movements. Most of us treat what goes on in the bathroom like Vegas. What happens in the bathroom, stays in the bathroom. But for the sake of your health, you need to start paying attention to your poop. Before I started eating healthy, I didn’t really pay attention much to my bathroom habits. I only paid attention when there was a major issue (i.e. diarrhea). I thought I was normal and everything was fine. Come to find out not pooping for a week straight, probably not so good. Even once I started eating better, there were still issues. Because I was more in tune with my body at this point, I had to start doing some investigating. This is what you have to do as well. This chart is a really good place to start your poop sleuthing (yeah… I don’t think that is going to become one of the top professions any time soon). Healthy poop should be between a 3 and a 4, so if that is not what you’re experiencing, it’s time to start eliminating or adding things to your diet and seeing how they affect you. The type of poop you have is not the only indication of digestive problems. The smell, the color, the frequency all play into this as well. There is no one size fits all for these factors of your bowel movement, everyone will vary a little. But you need to know what is right for you and your body. If you aren’t sure what that is you can start with this great poop post and talk with your doctor. While poop may not be the most fun thing to analyze, it gives you a TON of information about your health!
Bloating. This sort of goes along with poop, but it is another indication of a gut problem. We all have probably experienced bloating at some point in our life. Many things cause bloating, from eating too many beans (they are the magical fruit), to drinking or eating too quickly, and inhaling excess air. Those are pretty normal and will occur from time to time. However, if you have chronic bloating and your stomach has that “pregnant” belly look, you might have bigger issues than a few too many pinto beans(also these bloggers have been on a journey to heal their guts and it is really neat to see their progress/techniques). Chances are your digestive system is having a hard time, well, digesting. Perhaps you have a sensitivity to certain foods, maybe you don’t have enough good bacteria in your gut to help you breakdown the food you’re eating. Either way, constant bloat is a sign you should not ignore. Again here is a good article to start with. Also try some experimenting with your diet, or talk with your health professional.
Hair/skin/nails. These three are really good indicators for a lot of health related issues, not just your gut. From vitamin deficiencies to toxins, these three can clue you into a wealth of knowledge about your body. For me personally my skin is a great indicator that something is awry. I am very prone to acne breakouts (high school was… interesting) and a lot of them had to do with my diet. Once I started eating cleaner, most of my acne cleared up. Occasionally though I would get the huge zit on my chin or my forehead would break out. I started looking into it and realized after I ate certain things I would get zits. You might not have acne prone skin, but paying attention to your hair, skin, and nails can clue you in to a digestive problem. This is a great post about the location of your zits and what that could mean about your diet.
There are of course other ways to know if you have a digestive issue, these just happened to be the three I experienced and are some of the top ways you can start to look into your gut health. Yes, some parts of your digestion might be gross (congratulations for making it through me talking about poop!) but what’s more gross are some of the consequences of ignoring your gut. Start taking notice of your daily digestive processes and you can be on your way to better health!