poop as a diagnostic tool
Posted by Andrea Nakayama
Is your poop husky enough?
While you might find this question a bit brash, it’s one that I hope you’ll start asking your clients (if you aren’t already!)
As you may know, I’m a fan of evaluating the shape, size, color and consistency of poop. That’s right. Poop is one of the three universal Non-Negotiables of care—what I’ve deemed the Non-Negotiable Trifecta.
This trio consists of sleep, poop, and blood sugar balance. These factors must be addressed, no matter what the signs, symptoms, or diagnosis.
Poop is one of our best health diagnostic tools. I’m not talking about fancy stool analysis (though I confess to liking those for some clinical diagnostic gems as well.) I’m merely talking about taking a peek in the bowl after you’ve done your business and before you flush the (very telling) evidence.
That sneak peek is not to be missed! It can reveal a load about your GI function.
And a load is what we want to see.
Are you ready for the naked truth?
A healthy stool should be up to 2 inches in diameter. That’s pretty husky, right?!
In order to get there, let’s turn our attention to a husk of another sort—psyllium husk! The main secret to psyllium husk’s success in easing digestive woes is that it’s a rich source of soluble fiber.
Instead of being food for you, it’s actually food for your gut bacteria! (The good guys.)
Here’s what happens: your gut bacteria ferment the soluble fiber in psyllium husk and produce short chain fatty acids like butyrate. Butyrate has been shown to increase insulin sensitivity, have anti-inflammatory effects, and ease digestive distress.
The real mystery and magic of psyllium husk (in my mind) is that it can remedy digestive woes on both ends of the spectrum—from hard and clumpy to loose and runny. (Yes, I’m back to talking poop.)
If your constitution leads to constipation, psyllium husk can help get you going in no time. When combined with water in your digestive tract, it swells and produces more bulk, stimulating your intestines to contract and get things moving.
If instead, you’re going with a gush, psyllium still may save the day. It helps soak up water in the digestive tract, firms your stool, and slows the whole show down.
Even in the case of more serious digestive issues (like Crohn’s and Colitis), there’s compelling evidence (and in my clinical experience) that adding in psyllium husk can help alleviate signs and symptoms of distress.
And if you’re thinking…can I get my clients to eat this stuff?
Yes, you can!
Psyllium husk is a great addition to breads, baked goods and healthy snacks, like the one I share below. It’s a go-to ingredient for getting your husky on, and the foods you make with it really do taste good! Also, it works like a binder in food, just as it does elsewhere, so it’s especially helpful when making gluten-free goodies that have lost a bit of their “glue.”(There’s an incentive for giving it a try!)
As with all gut lovin’ ingredients—start low and go slow!
If someone is new to psyllium husk, begin with just a small amount (½ to 1 tsp per day). And cap this superfood dosage at 2-3 Tbsp per day.
As with all dietary recommendations, be sure to ask your clients to track their response to this colonic food so you can help them adjust their intake.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT PSYLLIUM HUSK
Psyllium husk comes in a few forms including capsules, powder, whole husk and whole seeds. Which one’s best? It depends!
- For baked goods, the powder or whole husk is usually best. Some recipes specifically call for one or the other so double check your recipe.
- The whole husk can be grainy, and some tongues don’t like the texture. If that’s the case, go with the powder instead.
- Capsules are good for when you’re on the go and need to go! (But I prefer the in-my-food sources.)
- Whole seeds are the least processed form and you can grind them into a powder to use in baking.
*Avoid products like Metamucil. It’s psyllium husk but it’s paired with sugar and orange dye (no thank you!)
These quick and easy no-bake snacks are good for on-the-go (as well as helping you to, well, “go”). They’re not particularly sweet if you use one of the low-glycemic sweeteners I’ve chosen, but they’re still quite tasty and satisfying! Note to all eaters, you might want some floss on hand after these psylly bombs.
Even though these turtle treats might hit the spot, careful not to eat the whole plate. They might have you “going” a little too much. Slow down and tune in to your body!
- 1/3 cup yacon syrup, coconut nectar or other liquid sweetener (raw honey or maple syrup will make these sweeter)
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup nut or seed butter of choice, I like sprouted almond butter
- 1/4 cup ground psyllium husk powder
- 2 TBSP chia seeds
- 1 cup fine coconut flakes
- 1/4 cup cacao nibs or dried fruit (if added sweetness is desired), optional
- sprinkle sea salt
- sprinkle cinnamon
- half pecan to top each scoop
Prepare a tray or baking sheet, lined with parchment or wax paper. Mix all ingredients from the liquid sweetener to the coconut flakes (first six ingredients), in a large bowl until well combined. Use a wooden spoon or your clean hands to mix well. Add in ‘extras’ (cacao nibs or dried fruit) if using, and mix well to combine.
Using a melon-ball scoop or your hands to grab and roll, scoop out a sphere about 1-inch round, placing each round on the lined tray. Sprinkle each mound with sea salt, cinnamon and press a half a pecan on top of each. And enjoy!
BEYOND THE GUT: OTHER HUSKY PSYLLIUM HEALTH BENEFITS YOU DON’T WANT TO MISS!
> helps clear LDL cholesterol from your bloodstream keeping your liver and heart happier
> supports detoxification by helping to remove excess and unwanted toxins, hormones and medications from your bloodstream
Blood Sugar Bliss
> improves insulin sensitivity and balances your blood sugar
> increases your feeling of fullness, which helps to curb your appetite so you eat less
Note: As with all gut food, start low and go slow.
We’re each unique and we all respond differently to new ingredients. While introducing psyllium to your client’s diet (or your own!), make sure to drink enough water, as psyllium will soak up some of the liquid in your system. If you’re working with someone who has a delicate GI and they have concerns, make sure they’re under the care of a physician.
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