The Circle of Strength Women’s Event brought together over 150 women from throughout the world for a day of conversation and workshops around empowerment, gratitude, finding inner strength and trusting and understanding your own body and mind. This event was a celebration of life, love and friendship and Stand Up Speak Up co-founder Karla’s 50th birthday as she continued to live and work with Stage 4 Metastatic Breast Cancer.
A Note From Karla
While it is something each of us deal with and is a great indicator of overall health, poop isn’t something most of us are comfortable discussing. But when I was first in the hospital after my cancer diagnosis, it was something that became a huge part of my life. The new medications that I were on caused a variety of digestive problems that I was dealing with on a daily basis. It was something I needed to discuss with my nurses and doctors and became something discussed with friends and family.
Once I let go of the stigma around discussing digestive health, I started to learn more about it and how monitoring what we expel from our bodies can lead us towards better mental and physical health. But, I know that it is still a taboo topic for most. I hope this workshop will help to increase your comfort around thinking and talking more about your own digestive health.
Some Fun To Get Us Started
Before we dive into our workshop with Melissa Ramos, let’s get us into the mindset of talking about poop with a bit of trivia.
Workshop with Melissa Ramos
What Is a Hormone?
(Source: You Are Your Hormones)
A hormone is a chemical (made by specialist cells) released into the bloodstream to send a message to another part of the body. Hormones are found in all multicellular organisms and their role is to provide an internal communication system between cells located in distant parts of the body. When hormones are over or under produced, they can cause unnecessary functions or keep key functions from happening.
Your gut controls over 30 neurotransmitters. Here are a couple of examples of how hormones work within or can be hampered by the digestive system:
- Estrogen: Leaky gut disrupts estrobolome, which increases the risk of breast cancer.
- Serotonin: Your gut manufactures 90% of the body’s serotonin. This can affect emotional wellness, as well as irritable bowel syndrome, cardiovascular disease, and osteoporosis.
What Does Stomach Acid Do?
Hydrochloric acid helps your body break down proteins (proteolysis), activates pepsin in order to digest, and absorbs nutrients. It also eliminates bacteria and viruses that were introduced with food to the stomach, protecting your body from infection. It signals to chemicals that help food pass from the stomach to the small intestine and alerts the pancreas to secrete enzymes.
What Is H Pylori?
A bacteria that lives in the digestive system if it enters your system. They can cause ulcers in the stomach lining and small intestine and can lead to stomach cancer. Fifty percent of people have H. pylori in their systems but most have no ulcers or other complications.
What Do Probiotic Do?
Probiotics are the good bacteria — live microorganisms that prevent or even treat illnesses. You can build probiotics through food, beverages, or supplements. Foods that include probiotics naturally are generally fermented (like kefir, yogurt, pickles, kombucha, sauerkraut, and sourdough bread).
What Is a Leaky Gut?
A leaky gut is when bacteria and toxins leak through the intestinal wall, a barrier protecting your bloodstream and organs from toxins. When the gut is leaky it can cause infection and inflammation, possibly triggering a reaction from the immune system. Symptoms are bloating, fatigue, food sensitivities, digestion and skin problems.
“Leaky gut” is not a term recognized by all physicians, but is instead referred to as “increased intestinal permeability”. It is often believed to be a side effect in a variety of chronic illnesses. Excessive sugar intake, NSAID use, alcohol intake, stress, nutritional deficiencies, inflammation, poor gut health, and yeast overgrowth are all linked to the causation of leaky gut.
Create a Stool Patterns Chart
We all know that examining your bathroom habits is something that can’t really be done in a day. Things change according to a number of factors and it can be difficult to know if the cause of irregular movements is a one-off or a sign of a larger problem.
Keeping track of your eliminations for 7-10 days can help you see potential patterns and provide you with information that you can pass on to health professionals if you do feel that there is an underlying issue.
Get to know the Bristol Stool Chart. This provides a simple way of telling whether or not the consistency of your stool is in a normal range. You are aiming for a #3 or #4.
Consider the color:
Brown – It’s perfect!
Slightly Green – Okay.
Very Green – Either you ate greens or it’s passing too fast.
Black – If you haven’t eaten licorice and don’t take iron supplements, you may have bleeding in the upper GI tract. Do not be alarmed if you see this once, but keep an eye on it.
Pale or Clay-colored – You may have liver or gallbladder malfunction.
Red – Red foods, hemorrhoids, or a lower GI bleed. Like black stool, keep an eye on it but you may need to see a doctor.
Yellow – Too much fat, malabsorption, or celiac disease.
Create a chart either digitally or on paper with the following categories:
- Date & Time
- Bristol Number
- Does It Sink? (Y/N)
- Did You Strain? (Y/N)
The chart should look something like this:
In addition to keeping this chart, you can also take our self assessment quiz to find out more about what different elements of your expulsions could signal in your physical health.
When you’re developing a new daily practice or adjusting your regular routine, it can be helpful to have some visual reminders around the house. All of these images, created by amazing artist Bridget Moore, are downloadable so that you can print them out and display them in your bathroom as a gentle nudge towards better digestive health but also a nice addition to your decor.