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While it’s not something many of us talk freely about, your stools — their appearance and frequency — say a lot about you!
In 1997, a researcher and professor at the University of Bristol named Kenneth Heaton created the Bristol stool scale.1 Heaton and his colleagues suggested that stool size and consistency are two useful ways to measure transit time.
Your stool transit time reflects the health of your digestive tract and can even indicate the presence of infection. The powerful herbs in LivAmend can support the liver to improve elimination.
Transit time describes the amount of time it takes accumulated waste to move through the intestinal tract. One of the most important factors that affects transit time is your inner ecosystem — or the communities of microbes living in the small and large intestine.
Small, hard lumps or cracked, lumpy stool are signs of constipation — or slow transit time. Even if you have a bowel movement every day, you may be slightly constipated if your stool is released in small, hard lumps.
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Watery stool with undigested bits of food or stool that is released in small, formless blobs is classified as diarrhea — and this indicates fast transit time. If you have fast transit time and eliminate multiple times a day, but your stool is well-formed, you do not have diarrhea.
Chinese medicine and the language used in Chinese medicine give us a little more insight into stool analysis. For example, just like the Body Ecology Diet uses the principles of Expansion and Contraction to understand the nature of food, Chinese medicine uses the principles of excess and emptiness to understand the body.
Constipation that is the result of excess is accompanied by other signs of heat within the body. This includes:
Another sign of excess is when stools are difficult to pass — this is a sure sign that the liver is congested.
When the liver is congested and when the bowels are congested with signs of heat, it is a good time to cleanse. We also recommend herbs that support the liver and healthy elimination, like milk thistle, wasabi, artichoke leaf, and sarsaparilla.
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Constipation that is the result of emptiness or deficiency is accompanied by signs of coldness. In this case, the body doesn’t have the energy that it needs to fully eliminate.
Signs of coldness with constipation include:
An example of a condition that often involves constipation with emptiness is hypothyroidism, when the thyroid is underactive and the body’s metabolism suffers.
This would be a good time to nourish the body with restorative, nutrient-dense foods like bone broth, full-fat dairy kefir, and even Chinese herbs that rebuild your energy reserves, such as Activate the Qi.
Like constipation, you will see signs of heat with diarrhea if there is excess, and it’s time to cleanse.
These signs of heat with loose stools include:
Parasites, food poisoning, and Crohn’s disease are examples of diarrhea related to excess in the body. In this case, it is important to remove common dietary irritants like wheat gluten, milk casein, and added sugar. Foods that both cool and rebuild the lining of the gut are key.
We recommend coconut water kefir, which is cooling and soothing to the intestinal tract. We also recommend Vitality SuperGreen, which contains herbs that specifically support intestinal health and stop inflammation.
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When the body runs low on energy or is chronically exhausted, loose stools or diarrhea will be accompanied by signs of emptiness. Sometimes this exhaustion is constitutional. This means it begins in childhood, and there are also signs of a weak immune system, like frequent infections.
Diarrhea with signs of emptiness include:
When the stools are loose and watery with other signs of emptiness, it’s important to think long-term and choose a lifestyle that supports digestive health.
Working with principles of food combining or the Body Ecology Principle of 80/20 sets you up for digestive success, meal after meal. In addition to eating nutrient-dense foods, we also suggest gently rebounding on a mini trampoline. This can improve the circulation of lymph fluid, generate energy, and rebuild the Earth element, which in Chinese medicine is responsible for digestive health.
The state of your stool is a great indicator of your internal health. There are four important stool guidelines you can use to measure your health:
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