Thursday, October 13, 2011
The Poop Report
Doctors are a warped bunch of people. We talk about poop and get excited about different types of poop. Well, we call it “stool” and “BM’s” to sound cooler. But let’s face it, it’s poop. In the hospital, when someone has a BM after surgery, we all cheer because it means their bowels have woken back up.
I had a professor in residency who was an old GI attending from South Africa. He had a saying which has stuck with me my entire career. It’s simple and it’s true. He said, “Michele, you can divide the world into two types of people. Those who look, and those who don’t.”
Of course he was speaking of looking (or not) at your stool. In my personal experience, about 75% of people look, and 25% are appalled to be even ASKED to look. That is until they’re 80. Suddenly, 90% of people look (for their health) and 10% look ALL THE TIME and tell you every single detail about it!
Now I understand this is an uncomfortable subject. In my husband’s family, no one EVER talks about poop. I found this out after the kids were born and I would try to give him information about the kids stools. He started calling it the “Poop Report” and making fun of me for even bringing it up. You see, in MY family, well, poop had the potential to be something to be very proud of. We got the poop report every day from my dad. He had his own classification system too. There were “Bowl Wrappers”. These were “healthy” BM’s that looked like a cobra at the bottom of the bowl, ready to strike. We would gather ‘round the toilet to admire it. There were “Torpedoes”. Self explanatory. I can’t remember the rest, or maybe I’ve blocked it out. We also had a separate classification for those who had the uncanny ability to sense that someone was just settling in on the john (or the “throne” as we called it). Dad would think that it was safe to sit and read the paper and enjoy a good poop. I would come running in screaming that I “had to go,” and was crowned a“radar butt” usually with a few expletives thrown in for good measure.
I bring this up not to gross you out but to explain that Doctors have a stool system too.
It’s called the “Bristol Stool Scale”. I thought about putting in a picture, but I’ll let you google it.
Why in the world am I talking about poop? Well, anyone who has made a drastic change in their diet knows that your poop changes too. I figured it was all the fiber I was eating, but MAN! This was just too much. (I’ll spare you the full poop report). Anyway, it got me to thinking about fiber. I’ve been reading labels lately. I noticed that they had fiber broken down into “SOLUBLE Fiber” and “INSOLUBLE fiber.” It was more confusing than helpful. I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t know the difference and figured other people reading this wouldn’t either.
So here goes. Soluble fiber is just that. Soluble. If you put it in a glass of water, it dissolves. In your stomach it becomes a big gelatinous mass and soaks up fat and sugar and slows down digestion. Foods that have lots of soluble fiber include oat bran, barley, apples (not the skin) and similar fruits, and legumes. They bring down your cholesterol. (Cheerios anyone?)
Insoluble fiber does NOT dissolve in water and goes through your digestive tract unchanged. (think corn). (Again with the poop report)
Wheat, corn, oats, barley, nuts, flaxseed and the skins of some fruits (apples and pears for example) are a good source.
Insoluble fiber is like a broom, and soluble fiber is like a sponge. Insoluble fiber gives your stool girth and bulk. It fills you up so you don’t feel as hungry, and helps you lose weight. Soluble fiber helps reduce your risk for diabetes and lowers your cholesterol because it slows down the transit of sugars and fats and makes it take longer to absorb.
So, your poop tells a lot about how much fiber you’re eating. If you have constipation and rabbit pellet poop, well, start eating more fiber! If your LDL is high, like mine, eat more soluble fiber. Apples, oranges, oatmeal (the long cooking or steel cut stuff is best), barley, etc. Become a "looker"!
This has been your daily Poop Report.