My digestive system has quite a personality. And I mean that literally. When it’s not working right, it influences my mood drastically. I’ve been known to head into the bathroom in the morning in a foul mood emerging a short time later with my hands in the air and a smile on my face screaming, “Wahoo!”
This sounds ridiculous, but that’s my life.
My bowels get slow sometimes. I’ve gone days before without relief, which not only puts me in a bad mood but over the last couple of years has left me wondering, “Is this affecting my fertility?”
Julia Indichova, author of two books on infertility and director of the Fertile Heart™ Studio in New York, in working with infertile couples has noticed a link with the observation, “…a large number of these people had digestion-related complaints” (1).
This isn’t a total surprise though since we know that the digestive system plays a crucial role in our overall health. Our digestive system is responsible for breaking down and absorbing the nutrients, energy and water we need to live from the food we eat. If all goes well, the body gets everything it needs and the waste products are ushered out the back door.
So how do we know if everything is indeed working well? According to Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen in their book, YOU The Owner’s Manual, an important diagnostic for measuring your digestive health is, yep you guessed it, how shall I say it – your poop.
Let’s not try and make this sound scientific: let’s be direct. Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen give the following criteria for healthy poop:
- banana shaped (not pellets)
- attached to you when it hits the water
Or as Foxx-Orenstein, president of the American College of Gastroenterology, stated, “An ideal stool looks like a torpedo—it should be large, soft, fluffy and easy to pass.” What isn’t good is a stool that is hard and dry, liquidy, pencil thin, grey or black, floats and smells or is bloody (2).
And with regard to regularity, Foxx-Orenstein says that although bowel movements should be regular everyone is different. Regular can mean as few as three bowel movements each week and still be healthy. What isn’t good is diarrhea or constipation (constipation being defined as too much straining with bowel movements, passage of small hard stools or a sense that the bowels have not completely emptied) (3).
So what have I done about my digestive health?
Well, initially I did what all the experts recommended: I ate lots of fruits and veggies (easy as a vegetarian at the time), got plenty of exercise and drank plenty of water. This didn’t seem to be the solution to my problem, though, so I did a colon cleanse. Although the cleanse helped, I still had bouts of constipation.
More recently, I eliminated all cheeses and increased my vegetable intake further, especially including regular servings of parsley and the green leafy vegetable called rocket or arugula. This wasn’t enough so I traded my regular morning breakfast for vegetable soup. This helped quite a bit, but it caused a new problem – too much weight loss.
Then, ironically, in an effort to meet my other diet principles I added something that seems to have solved my digestive problems: poultry (see my blog: Vegetarian no more…).
This seems so odd, but I haven’t changed anything else in my life over the past several weeks. I’m thinking the poultry did something. There is one other possibility though. I stopped eating gluten about two months ago – suspecting it as a culprit to my digestive woes. So, it’s also entirely possible that the gluten free diet has slowly taken hold (more about gluten and fertility in an upcoming blog). Right now, I’m going to celebrate my happy digestive system, “Wahoo!”
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