What Is Your Poo Telling You?

what is your poo telling you




Your digestive health reveals a ton about your eating and lifestyle habits, and your poo is a clue. If you’re normally feeling sluggish, having trouble losing weight or getting in shape then digestion is worth the investigation. When you're working with me as a 1:1 client you can bet I'm going to ask you about your doody duties because it helps us get to the *bottom* of things (ha!). 

How do you assess your poo quality? Turn around and look down! Make it a daily habit so you can track any trends and refer to this chart below as a primer:


bristol-stool-chart_copy


Your bowel movements are not up to par if you continuously experience:
• A day without pooping, or pooping too much in a day (1-3/day is optimal)
• Extremely foul-smelling poop
• A huge effort or a long time to evacuate
• A different colour other than brown (unless your last meal involved spinach or beets for example, the hue will change and that's OK)
• Different shapes and textures (the perfect poo should look like Type 4 in the chart above)
• If it floats or sinks isn't a huge issue but rather an indicator of fat (float) to fibre (sink) ratio


A good-looking poo means:
• You've got strong core muscles
• Your digestive system is working well
• You’re getting enough fibre and other nutrients
• Your hormones are balanced
• You aren’t overly stressed
• Your gut environment is happy and balanced


Contributing factors
Sub-optimal bowel movements are trying to tell you something important. Where can you improve in the following?

Poor diet and food sensitivities: Consuming sugar, processed foods, refined grains, food preservatives, lack of hydration, food sensitivities, and not eating enough fruits and vegetables can cause bowel dysfunction. Keep a food diary for a couple weeks to track what you eat and any symptoms you notice. Talk to a qualified health practitioner about an elimination diet to help track the culprits.

Stress: Delaying bathroom time because of a busy schedule is a common reason people get backed up. Never ignore the need to pass a bowel movement as too much water can be absorbed from the stool and it can become dry and impacted leading to constipation. Irregular eating patterns, eating on the run and making less healthy food choices, all can contribute to constipation. A more direct affect of stress is its impact on the nervous system which causes an interruption of normal signal functions. When you are tense, your colon restricts leading to constipation. Nervousness and anxiety can have a strong effect on the gut and intestinal muscle commonly leading to diarrhea. A qualified health practitioner can help pin point stress hormone imbalances and work with you to resolve them.

Gut flora imbalances and poor digestive health: When we have a good supply of friendly bacteria in our intestines we are much more regular. However, antibiotics, stress, certain medications, jet lag or shift work, travelling, aging, blood sugar irregularities, and a poor diet can all lead to gut flora imbalances which may predispose us to constipation. Health issues like Crohn’s and colitis, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and low thyroid function can cause havoc on our digestive system and it's best to work with a qualified health practitioner to uncover what's going on. Eat fermented foods and consider a high quality probiotic to help get you started.

You're exercising too much or not enough: Physical activity favours intestinal mobility and so a sedentary lifestyle can lead to constipation. However, overtraining can cause major stress on the body too, causing loose or watery stool since blood flow to the gut is being reduced during exercise. Notice if you are experiencing constant muscle aches or fatigue and instead reduce intense workouts days and add more active recovery days like an easy swim, yoga, or a walk.

BONUS TIP: Pop a Squat! Humans were evolutionarily designed to squat when defecating and the modern day toilet does not favour this posture for complete elimination. One action you can take today if you are commonly spending too much time in the bathroom is to prop your legs up on a step stool when sitting on the toilet to help align the rectum and anal canal for easy pooping. If you think I'm talking shit then read about it here ;) 


As you can see there are many factors in play when it comes to achieving the holy grail of a perfectly formed poop and its relation to hitting your health goals. If you'd like personalized guidance on achieving your health and fitness goals, book a complimentary consultation with our in-house nutritionist Maya Eid today.
 

 

 


Probiotics vs Prebiotics - Why They're Necessary for Your Health

Last post I covered ways to improve your digestion because I strongly believe it's of the highest importance to anyone who cares about his or her health, and it can make or break your progress in the gym as well. There are roughly 100 trillion bacteria that exist in your body, and one of the most important factors in your health is the balance between the good and the bad bacteria. 

I spoke about probiotics in the last post and how effective they are in supporting gut health, preventing colds, flus, and allergies, and of course relieving digestive issues. They’ve also been known to treat urinary tract infections (UTIs), reduce cravings, and fight depression and anxiety. Research is starting to show that having a proper gut flora balance can even aid in weight-loss. 


HOW TO GET PROBIOTICS INTO YOUR DIET
Probiotics are living bacteria and yeast that mainly live in the intestinal tract. This good bacteria helps to balance out the bad bacteria in the digestive system. We ingest probiotics through food and supplements. NOTE: Antibiotics prescribed by your doctor tend to kill off all types of bacteria, which means the good, beneficial bacteria is often killed right along with it. This can lead to an imbalance of intestinal flora and cause yeast infections and also digestive issues.

Eating fermented foods and drinking fermented drinks like Kefir and Kombucha will introduce beneficial bacteria into your digestive system and help the balance of bacteria in your digestive system. 


Fermented Foods
Aim for local and organic, and they should always be unpasteurized and refrigerated. You want a living, growing product, so it's important to choose products that don't contain vinegar. Vinegar kills the live bacteria. These foods should be used in small doses, like a condiment, with each meal. They're great, but fresh veggies are also necessary! 

Favorites:
sauerkraut
kimchi
pickled vegetables
tempeh (fermented soybean cake)
miso
kombucha (a fermented tea beverage, drink in much smaller portions than the bottle says - only up to 4 ounces at a time)
beet kvass (another fermented beverage primarily made from beets and water)

Dairy based (if you can digest dairy):
kefir
yogurt
cheese
buttermilk

For the curious foodies:
dosa
bean curd
natto
fermented breads such as sourdough and injera
fermented drinks such as amazake (Japanese rice drink)
ginger beer
coconut water kefir (from fermented water kefir grains)

Although eating fermented foods is the most natural way to get the benefits of probiotic bacteria and improve gut flora, many people find it difficult to consume fermented foods on a consistent basis, or they simply don't care for the taste of them. An effective alternative is to take a probiotic supplement.

Probiotic supplement is needed if you suffer with any of the following:
digestive issues (gas, bloating, leaky gut, IBS, constipation, chronic diarrhea, etc)
trouble losing stubborn weight
PMS
UTIs
seasonal colds and flus
skin issues
brain fog
hormonal imbalances
mental health issues
chronic stress
vitamin and mineral deficiencies
autoimmune diseases
or if you have used antibiotics at some point in your life, probiotics as supplement form would be highly beneficial, email me at maya@fitfactoryfitness.com and I can help you make some recommendations. 

On their own, probiotics have a limited effect. That's because they're easily destroyed. In order to live, probiotics need food to feed on. That's where prebiotics come into play. 


WHERE CAN YOU GET PREBIOTICS IN YOUR DIET
Prebiotics are a form of fibre, they are not alive like probiotics are. Think of prebiotics as food for probiotics and bacteria in the gut. We also ingest prebiotics through food and supplements. A healthy diet rich in certain fresh fruits and vegetables are the best sources of prebiotic foods.

Note that most of these foods must be eaten raw or lightly cooked to obtain the good gut benefits.

Favorites:
dandelion greens and root
garlic
onions
leeks
green onions (anything from the allium family)
Jerusalem artichokes
asparagus
under-ripe bananas
plantains
raw honey
chicory (used in coffee substitutes)
oats
jicama
apples


MINI CHALLENGE OF THE WEEK

Include a fermented food in your meal.

Some ideas: Incorporate a little sauerkraut into lunch next week, throw in a little kimchi with your eggs, or make a quick miso and mushroom soup. 

Image shown below is my warm kale bowl (lots of kale!) with 1 cup cooked black bean rotini pasta, shredded salmon (1 4oz fillet) and carrots with some raw kimchi shown at the bottom part of the bowl. Simple and tasty! What will you try?

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5 Simple Ways to Improve Your Digestion Today

 

To cap off the first month of the new year, I’m going to be bringing you lots of actionable nutrition advice to this space, so keep a close watch for my latest monthly posts!


I decided to begin discussing digestion above all because optimal digestion is the root of incredible health. When the gut is in good working order, the benefits include lots of energy, strong hair and nails, smooth skin, a lean body, a fast metabolism, balanced hormones, and the list goes on!

Firstly... where does digestion begin?

 

Digestion doesn't begin in the stomach, nope, not even in your mouth. It actually begins with your eyes. The glimpse of a tasty looking dish or the aroma sends signals to your brain saying: "Good stuff is on the way." As a result, your brain - the ultimate message centre - shoots out impulses that:
- Make your mouth salivate.
- Make your stomach rumble (contracting and creating hunger pangs).
- Make intestinal glands start leaking digestive chemicals.

All that from a little look and sniff!

5 simple ways to improve your digestion today:
1.) Chew your food until it becomes a paste. Since your stomach doesn’t have teeth, you’ll need to put your chompers into more use and thoroughly grind your food down to a paste before swallowing for better nutrient absorption. When you chew your food properly, your body releases digestive enzymes in the stomach that help to break down food so that your body can convert it into energy. This also helps in reducing bloating when you chew your food properly and prevents you from overeating!

2.) Keep liquids away from your meals. Limit this to only 1 cup to be sipped with your meal, but normally anything beyond that quantity and you’ll be diluting your powerful stomach acid needed to break down your meal.

3.) Take 1 tsp of apple cider vinegar 15 minutes before a meal. Apple cider vinegar is no joke. It contains a high amount of malic and tartaric acids that when consumed speeds up fat and protein breakdown, allowing your stomach to empty effectively. Take 1 tsp (with a splash of water if you can’t stand it) before a meal to help aid in digestion and nutrient assimilation. Especially effective if you tend to feel bloated after meals.

4.) Take probiotics everyday. Probiotics are necessary for optimal digestion because our gut is home to over 500 bacterial species, and probiotics are the healthy, beneficial sources of bacteria which facilitate digestion, provides nutrients, and helps form the immune system. It's important to know that not all probiotics are created equal. If you’d like to learn more about my preferred brand of probiotics, send me an email at maya@fitfactoryfitness.com for more information.

5.) Eat undistracted. Were you ever in a trance watching tv while eating chips only to look down and realize you’ve got one last handful left? When we don’t pay much attention to what is on our plate because our attention is firmly glued to Netflix, our digestive system quickly takes the back seat because our brain and eyes have decided to focus elsewhere. Challenge yourself at being more mindful with the food on your plate (the smell, the texture, putting your fork down between bites) and you’ll realize that you’ll feel more satisfied and experience better overall digestion.


Kickstart your digestion by making this Happy Digestion Smoothie
Recipe and description from www.ohsheglows.com

Star Players:
Ginger: stimulates circulation and digestion and can cut gas and bloating, and alleviate diarrhea.
Pineapple: Contains a compound called bromelain. The protein-digesting enzymes in it help to aid digestion.
Parsley: Rich in vitamins K, C, A, folate, and antioxidants. It's a natural diuretic which can help release water retention. Opt for flat-leaf parsley as it's less bitter than curly parsley. Cilantro would be a nice swap here too!
Lemon: Rich in vitamin C. Aids digestion and helps flush out toxins.
Avocado: Major anti-inflammatory benefits and heart-healthy fats. High in fibre which aids with digestion.

SERVINGS: 2

  • 1 c granny smith apple chunks
  • ½ c frozen pineapple chunks
  • 4 kale leaves
  • ¼ c fresh parsley
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 c coconut water
  • 1/4 avocado
  • ½ c ginger tea, cooled down (or use a small knob of fresh ginger with 1/2 cup water)
  • 1 c ice
  • scoop of unflavoured protein powder (optional - add more water if adding the protein)

ADD all ingredients to a blender and puree until smooth. Divide between two glasses and enjoy.


Looking for 1:1 nutrition coaching? Take charge of your health and book an appointment with our in house nutritionist Maya Eid today! Email: maya@fitfactoryfitness.com for more information on packages and services.




21 Day New Year Reboot Challenge



Oh, the holidays. A time where we test the elasticity of our stomachs and our tolerance to alcohol (and family members). As much as we had a blast gathering around with our loved ones as we feasted around the clock, what's done is done and the New Year is our time to move forward and give our bodies a rest from the over indulgences. The aftermath of the festive season may have left you feeling bloated, tired, and with several unwanted pounds. If you are feeling like you want to scrub out your insides and clean up your diet, a nutritionist-tested detox is the best solution to reset your body by eliminating all the built up toxins.

But what are toxins anyway?

A toxin is a chemical or poison that is known to have harmful effects on the body. Toxins can come from additives in our food, pesticides on our produce, toxic contaminants in our water, chemicals found in household products, and toxic compounds from environmental pollution.

Sometimes we willingly expose ourselves to even more toxins like alcohol, cigarette smoke, sugar, and junk food. Good news is that our bodies are specifically designed to remove those toxins through organs like the liver and kidneys and eliminate them in the form of sweat, urine, and feces. However, the unfortunate news is that because of lifestyle, food, and environmental burdens in our modern society, our bodies have trouble keeping up with this bombardment of daily toxic exposure. This is where signs and symptoms in our bodies reveal themselves, which can include:

  • trouble losing weight
  • brain fog
  • unexplained exhaustion
  • insomnia
  • unexplained headaches
  • mood swings
  • bad body odour
  • constipation
  • muscle aches and pains
  • skin reactions or allergies
  • depression
  • reduced libido
  • sensitivity to scents
  • indigestion/bloating

This 3-week challenge is designed to help you:

  • eliminate cravings
  • detoxify your body from all the excess sugar, carbs, and alcohol
  • shed the holiday pounds... and then some!
  • increase energy
  • improve performance in your workouts
  • improve your sleep
  • heal digestive system complaints
  • improve bowel function
  • ramp up metabolism

What you will receive:

  • Recipe meal plan to follow for the 21 days. Simple for anybody to prepare, even with very little experience! These are nutrient dense meals created to continually cleanse and regenerate your body, and keep you feeling fuller for longer.
  • Grocery List of approved foods (free from dairy, gluten, and sugar)
  • A list of key foods and supplements to further aid in cleansing your body
  • A step-by-step guide that explains what foods to eat, when to eat, and how much to eat in order to cleanse your body and encourage fat loss, all while retaining your hard-earned muscles.
  • Tips on how to avoid reintroducing toxins in your body
  • Educational handouts to explain why certain foods and techniques are being used in this program so that you not only follow it, but you understand it.
  • Accountability, Motivation and Support from unlimited access to my private Facebook group community. This is where you can ask me ANY of your health and nutrition related questions 24/7. Share your wins and struggles with like-minded members.

A quick word on other detox programs:

Detox programs usually recommend diet plans with less emphasis on protein foods. They encourage raw fruits, raw vegetables, high fibre whole grains, nuts, seeds, or trendy juice cleanses. However, the function of proteins in our body is to repair, renew, and improve immune function. Therefore it would be counter productive to deny our bodies of protein when we need to heal it by detoxing. Within my program, I encourage protein in the meal plans in order for you to achieve the greatest results! This program can be adjusted for vegans/vegetarians.

More benefits from my challenge:
At the end of these 21 days you will feel lighter and more empowered to continue on this healthy lifestyle, where day-to-day food decisions don't overwhelm you. You will know exactly how to put together a healthy meal that helps to continually nourish and cleanse your body because you have been guided for 21 days so that in the end you can finally feel confident with your food choices and eating habits.

Testimonials:
"Maya was great in getting me back on track to a healthy lifestyle. Her approach is not focused on dieting but rather finding a sustainable eating lifestyle. My experience working with Maya completely exceeded my expectation, so if you are looking to change your life, health and glow from inside out, then you must go to Maya."

"Not only have I shredded 8 pounds without counting a calorie, I’ve developed a new appreciation of food and the importance of putting the right fuel into my body. I’ve really enjoyed working with Maya because changing my eating hasn’t been “going a diet” but a lifestyle change that I will continue to pursue. Maya’s directions of meals and snacks are easy to make and convenient for my very busy lifestyle."

"At the time I was following the meal plans you would find in men's health magazines but they left me feeling hungry and I felt like I lacked the fuel to push myself to the next level. That's when I went to Maya, she helped me correct some misconceptions I had on which foods were good for maintaining intense workouts. She even gave me advice on how to prepare myself for upcoming obstacle races. My experience with Maya was phenomenal."


Are you ready to make the move towards a clean 2017? Get the 21 Day New Year Reboot Challenge for only $129 ($99 for members)! REGISTER NOW so you don't miss out on this transformational journey!

I am 100% confident that you will get incredible results! And I look forward to personally supporting you towards increased energy, improved digestion, and a leaner you!!

Fit Factory Fitness
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