gut health

The Poop Files: I've got the Runs

The poopy policeman line up by Paul Chek

I’ve got the runs!

A few weeks ago I was in Durbar in Notting Hill with some friends having a seriously wonderful time, belly laughing that left me almost too exhausted to eat. ‘Madame G’ was trying to get to grips with her new gluten free diet having done some Gastro Testing, whilst at the same time trying to play down the fact the waiters all referred to her as ‘lunch lady’; she could no longer hide anything.

 ‘’Can I eat ? naan’’ she would ask, whilst eating it. I knew she knew the answer so I said its Saturday night why not start on Monday. This was exactly what she wanted to hear so I gave her what she needed. Naan!  On the other side of me was my friend Pinak who was pretending (I know this now) to be interested in my I phone X with face recognition. He asked how it worked as he swiped the phone in front of my face and bingo it opened. I could see he was on my phone but thought noting of it, I had nothing to hide and it was Pinak afterall, what could he possibly get up too? Well 5 mins later the fruits of his deceiving nature had been published on social media for all the world to see. 

 

Facebook : Updated Status: Hannah Richards ‘I’ve got the runs”

 

Within seconds I had had messages of condolence; people were impressed at how honest I (pinak) had been and how brave I was to share! “Good to see even the gastro experts have these common problems” was one comment! I was suddenly sharing the very things, thoughts, feeling that are just not designed for social media or for British conversation. However it was causing more of a stir than the side splittingly boring holiday Heathrow terminal 5 updates, bikini selfies or pictures of food porn around the world, not to mention another lunge/ squat in a gym somewhere. It was at this moment I decided to start the POOP Files and talk about the most under rated subject for overall health and well being your poo!

I decided to let Pinak bask in his man glory and let the status stay up for 24 hours. I felt he had gone to great lengths at hacking into my phone for it to be embarrassingly removed (by me) within seconds, neither was I embarrassed. It was actually delightful to watch the pleasure he was experiencing. He resembeled a naughty school boy who had put a whoopee cushion under his teachers chair; he sat content at his sophisticated prank, every few seconds laughing to himself.

Bowels are without a doubt one of the uneasiest subjects to talk about after sex and if you are British!

It is said that ‘you are what you eat’ and, more recently, ‘You are what you don’t absorb!’ But I say a more accurate description would be ‘You are what you don’t excrete’. Flashback to the Gillian McKeith days when she was scraping around in Tupperware boxes full of poo, shouting at mortified, overweight souls who probably wished they’d read the contract small print as their poo became household viewing. 

Until Gillian McKeith came along, poo was a subject as taboo as sex, especially in the UK. Just as sex is certainly never easy to discuss, your bowels and their regularity take much of the same awkward tone. To help me with my patients, I have two charts – the Bristol Stool Chart and the other from Paul Chek’s book Eat, Move and Be Healthy – which gives names and faces to all the potential states of the bowel and consistency of stools in outfits. It is called the Poopy Policeman line up. 

A lot of people do not know what their bowels look like, or how often they go. Being regular by whose standards? I remember a lady once, proudly tell me of her regularity of bowel movements; it was only when I asked what her regular was that we discovered that she was chronically constipated. Twice a week is regular if that’s what you do every week, but it’s not normal. The bowel should move roughly 30 centimetres of faeces a day, preferably three times a day, an hour or so after every meal. That’s optimum regularity and what we should be striving for! So if you are moving your bowels once every three days and you’ve been told this is normal – it isn’t. This scenario is becoming more and more common, but in fact a frequency this low indicates severe faecal impaction and can lead to chronic constipation and slow transit disorders and it is these conditions that will precede diverticular disease, polyposis, haemorroids and colorectal cancer.   

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Weekly Homework: 

·     Make a not of how often / many bowel movements you have a week

And ask yourself these questions?

  1. ·     Are they runny or more like rabbit droppings ?

  2. ·     Do they smell ?

  3. ·     Do you see blood ?

  4. ·     Can you see mucus ?

  5. Do you have undigested food in your stool?

 So if you have any of the above symptoms or indeed all of them it may be time for you to do some testing and get to the route cause of your bowel movements or not , once and for all!

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Constipated gut or constipated brain?

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We all get constipated from time to time and I’m not limiting this state entirely to the bowel department either. Constipation of the bowels are also linked to constipation of the mind.

So where does my constipation stem from you ask?

Are we all becoming more stubborn, unreasonable and unable to compromise? Are these all conditions of the fast paced, social media led, narcissistic world that we live in? I don’t know but it feels like they are all entwined and intrinsically linked to me.

Constipation by definition of Wikipedia is “a condition in which there is difficulty in emptying the bowels, usually associated with hardened faeces.’’

So why do our faeces become hard and difficult to pass in the first place and what can we do about it?

‘The gastrointestinal system is the most emotional organ of the body.’

The large intestines’ number one function in the body is to ‘let go’ – quite literally in a physical sense, to eliminate waste through the movement of peristalsis, but also on a spiritual level, by letting go of the things that don’t serve us anymore. This can be people, traits, addictions, food and exercise, or all of the above. Mechanically, the gut lets go of waste after our upper digestive system has taken all the necessary nutrients out of the food we eat. On a spiritual level, the large intestine does the exact same thing. A healthy large intestine energy allows us to let go of patterns of negative thinking, destructive emotions and spiritual blockages that we create which prevent us from being our best. When the function of the large intestine energy is compromised, people have a hard time moving on from difficult situations, or hold very tightly to emotions they know are harming them. Years of constipation issues and not being open with friends and family or letting go can often go hand in hand.

The Emotional Body:

Knowing how closely the gut and the brain interact, it is easy to understand why you might feel as if you have butterflies in your tummy before a race, or feel nauseas before a presentation or interview. This does not mean that your functional gastrointestinal conditions are imagined or are even in your head. Psychology and physical factors combine to cause symptoms of the bowel. The whole gut is influenced by psychological factors that influence the physiology of the gut and create symptoms.

Action: Start your day with a positive affirmation. Look in the mirror and say with strength and conviction and belief, 10 times: ‘I let go of the past and I move freely into the present.’

The Nutritional Body:

A vast community of life lives in the dark, oxygen-free zone of our guts, and what you feed this zone will play a large part in how you feel for every second and minute of the day. Scientists say that there are over 100 trillion microbes living in our brains, and it is these microbes that keep the lines of communication open between our heads and our guts and, most importantly, play a very important role in how we feel. If you put in good nutrition you are more likely to feel happy and upbeat, feeding your microbiome for the better; but if you put in food that doesn’t rot, you will experience moments, bouts, episodes and even prolonged episodes of the blues because the food will make you feel this way.

Action: Make sure you eat fresh, seasonal, organic fruit and vegetables. Eating foods that decompose means that they have a high life force and will be feeding you high doses of antioxidants, polyphenols, vitamins and minerals. If your tomato can stay in the fridge for over a week with no sign of turning to the dark side, be afraid of the chemicals that have been sprayed on him! If you want to make counting part of your diet, count the chemicals not the calories.

The Physical Body:

In the physical body you may experience the following symptoms, if you’re experiencing symptoms with your gut: stiff or tense muscles in the neck as well as headaches. You may also have tight hip flexors.

The main muscle of the hip flexors is a deep muscle called the psoas major, which lies right next to the small intestine. If the psoas muscle is short and tight due to poor posture, poor exercise choices and nutrition, it will enhance visceroptosis. This is when the internal organs drop down into the pelvic basin, creating pelvic floor strain and dysfunction. This muscle can play a role in the gut–brain connection, affecting what is commonly called ‘gut feelings’. A tight psoas major muscle may be the cause of your poor motility; it runs from your lumbar spine T12–L4 and inserts/attaches to the lesser trochanter of the femur.

Top tips for Constipation of the mind and your bowels!

  • Increase your fluid intake and avoid caffeine, due to its diuretic action.

  • Create a regular and consistent eating time to encourage regular elimination.

  • If the following are lacking in your diet, make sure to include whole grains, steamed vegetables, fruits and legumes and rice bran, as all can increase stool mass.

  • Natural laxatives can work for some people and you would need to trial-and-error these, such as prunes, figs, apricots and rhubarb.

  • Supplements for laxative effect: magnesium citrate and vitamin C, B5, saffron and ginger.

  • Increase your bile flow: inositol, choline and methionine, omega 3s (EPA/DHA).

  • Take probiotics – these can help improve motility through the bowel especially if you do not have a varied and diverse diet.

Love Your Liver, Love Yourself

The Liver  - The Grandfather of all organs

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The Liver takes on most of the strain form your lifestyle and nutritional choices on a daily basis. Most of the time the liver doesn't grumble and gets on with filtering the food and liquid you drink into energy so you can be the best possible you. So with the season to be jolly around the corner it would make sense to get a few things in place to help support that old faithful friend of yours, the liver.

How to tell when my Liver is unhappy.

  • Dark Urine throughout the day
  • Painful upper back
  • Dark circles under the eyes
  • Cravings and addictions that intensify
  • Feeling of being overwhelmed and frustrated
  • Chronic Fatigue

Chronic fatigue is perhaps the most over looked symptom of liver toxicity as more favourable answers are found to your tiredness, brain fog and relentless sugar cravings. Often some self medication follows, exercise, reduce fatty foods, reduce alcohol, increase sleep, more water. However these changes don't always provide results and when this is the case a more in-depth investigation needs to happen.

The liver’s performance can directly impact emotional constitution. A toxic liver can be the reason for various forms of depression, which is really a form of anger turned inward. General moodiness, feelings of despair, and occasional outbursts of anger can all be caused by a burdened liver.

However, many people do not realise that the liver’s function or operational deficiencies, play significant role in your emotional and mental health.  We all get slightly moody form time to time and thats forgivable behaviour but chronic and wide mood swings accompanied with physical energy are another.

So if you find the symptoms below sound like you, it may be time to look at your detoxification pathways / nutritional skills and or alcohol consumption.

  • Cant lose weight
  • Cant kick the alcohol
  • Have a heavy meat diet
  • Have a heavy processed diet
  • Have strong and ferocious mood swings

The Liver is also best friends with the digestive system and so your problem may be manifesting here, its always comes back to the gut!

What do I get if I do some detoxing?

  • Weight loss: The liver produces bile which is essential in the breakdown of fats. When you stat detoxing the liver further assists the metabolism of fats in the body aiding your weight los and ability to tone that beautiful body of yours!
  • Increase your energy: Once the liver eliminates the harmful substances out if the body, the liver starts to run more efficiently providing you with more energy.
  • Look younger: Surely you don't need any other organ after this one. When you remove the toxicity that your liver has been storing your skin will automatically look brighter and younger! Cancel the botox!
  • A clean liver: It stands to reason that the organ that has been designed to remove toxins form your body should need detoxing. It is normal to have toxins in your liver but when they build up to inordinate amounts that they start to inhibit detoxification pathways.