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Personal care

Elimination. Erasing the stigma surrounding a critical bodily function

Photography by
Words by Tracey Creed

Published January 30 2023

There is this stigma surrounding a most critical bodily function. We are obsessed with what goes into our bodies, and so we try to hide what comes out. The physical reality of ‘pooping’ is as unavoidable as breathing. So we need to laugh and be comfortable having these conversations because though they cause embarrassment and perhaps also disgust, we can't separate ourselves from their production.

Do you poop 1 to 3 times a day? You should. Regularity is the gateway to glowing skin and inner peace. If you’ve ever experienced travel constipation — it is real, or whether due to a change in routine, or nerves about pooping in a new place, it happens to all of us. Nothing will quite kill the spirit, like needing to go and being bloated.

Eliminative action excites the brain. When a substantial amount of faecal matter leaves the body, the vagal nerve, which connects the bowels to the brain, is stimulated, which then produces endorphins. And now, your bowels secrete serotonin, the feel-good chemical — 95 per cent of serotonin is produced in the gut. These hormones are responsible for the "after sh*t glow," a general sense of sublime relaxation and satisfaction that penetrates every pore of your being (and skin).

The colon is your body’s septic system

Cleansing occurs when the bowels are empty. It’s not abstract. Cleansing is a physical, mechanical, and biochemical occurrence. Emptying the bowels frees the body from obstruction, allowing the rest of our organs to detoxify. Consider that your skin is your largest organ, and constipation has been linked to skin issues such as psoriasis, eczema and acne, as well as weight gain, fatigue, oestrogen dominance and migraines. If you’re cleansing, you’re having bowel movements; if you're not, you’re not cleansing — you’re autointoxicating.

How do we get bloated and why can it occur without eating?

When we are backed up in our colon, our bodily processes slow down, including metabolism. Our body overproduces mucus as an immune response to modern living, which traps bacteria and prevents them from entering the bloodstream. Excess mucus sticks to our intestinal walls and prevents nutrient absorption. Bacteria trapped in the mucous also get reabsorbed into the bloodstream.

And when there is a backup, hydrogen and methane are produced by harmful bacteria feeding off of the fermenting and putrefying contents of the intestines, and we feel bloated. Much of this gets reabsorbed into the bloodstream, looking for the next elimination organ. And that will be your skin. Skin disorders like eczema, psoriasis and cystic acne are traced to a leaky gut, resulting from an inadequate diet and poor elimination.

What does pooping “regularly” look like?

Regularity is relative. Some people go three times a day, others once a day. Ideally, bowel movements are a satisfying daily experience. Learning how to remedy your irregularity through diet, fasting, stress management, and colon cleansing (versus drugs) is empowering. You can also use The Bristol Stool Scale to understand your bowel movements better.

How you can support regular bowel movements

We are what we eat and what we do not eliminate. Certain foods take much longer for the average 26-foot-long human intestinal tract to digest. Meat and dairy, for instance, can take up to three full days to digest. These decaying foods slowly ferment in our systems, causing gas, disease, premature ageing, weight gain, body odour and skin disorders. Alternatively, vegetables can pass through the body in less than a day. When we eat plants, we feed and multiply the healthy bacteria, the probiotics, in our system that protect us from pathogens, viruses, yeast overgrowth and bloat.

A whole food, a fibre-rich diet is vital for healthy elimination. Plant fibre moves the products of digestion more efficiently through the digestive tract. When we eat more plants, the plant fibre's cleansing and exfoliating effect loosen stagnant waste, which must be decomposed and hopefully eliminated before the gas can "wreak" havoc. Methane and hydrogen are the byproducts of microbial decomposition, and if the rate we eliminate is inefficient, gas can remain trapped to expand in our gut. And also, fibre-rich plant foods produce the fastest, most satisfying bowel movements.

A high-fibre plant-based diet can decrease your risk of developing colon cancer, diverticulosis, gallstones, haemorrhoids, constipation, bloating, acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome, fatty liver disease, and virtually every other gastrointestinal disorder.

Supplement with magnesium citrate. Our soils are depleted, so taking a magnesium supplement is vital. ⁣Magnesium Citrate has a gentle laxative effect, helping draw water into the bowels to encourage healthy morning movements.

Move away from processed foods. In particular, processed animal products like deli meat are classified as carcinogenic and are a substantial risk factor for stomach cancer. Food is not meant simply to satisfy our cravings, addictions, and indulgences. It is meant to sustain us, to keep us strong and energised and create one big sustainable ecosystem.

Incorporate more probiotics into your diet. Our gut is the first line of defence between the outside world and our immune system — the barrier between the two is only one cell thick. To support immunity, we want to create a healthy, balanced microbiome. And if we are experiencing bloating, acne and other issues associated with elimination, we need to heal our gut. That means probiotics and probiotic food, prebiotics (fibre and starch), and a plant-heavy diet (low sugar, high fibre, whole-food based, inflammation-free). Consult with your practitioner to discuss supplementation further.

Get yourself a squat stool. Finally, using a squat stool when using the toilet helps open the rectum for fuller evacuation and haemorrhoid prevention. If you have not seen the advertisement, This Unicorn Changed the way I poop, watch it.

When the bowels open up, everything in your being that’s been way off will fix. It’s not just digestion. When we are not eliminating, not cleansing, we limit our beauty, confidence and quality of life. Having open conversations about elimination releases the limitations we carry and can be trust-building and cathartic. Enjoy plant-based meals with friends and the magic that this new freedom promises. Daily poops are a sign of healthy digestion and detoxification. Make them a regular thing this year. And if you’d like to research further, Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body's Most Underrated Organ by Giulia Enders provides a deep dive into the subject.

*This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek advice from your health provider before altering your routine.

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