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What’s the poop?

Volume 8: Workplace Bathroom Etiquette.

You’re sitting at your desk as your intestines start gurgling and you suddenly realize you need to hit the bathroom – STAT. It’s a dilemma everyone encounters at one time or another: pooping at work. How do you handle it?  
  • Do you take the elevator to another floor to avoid the people you sit closest to throughout the day? (You don’t want your work friends to know you poop, do you???)
  • Do you choose a stall furthest from any that are taken? (Taking advantage of the invisible bathroom barrier that will not allow any sounds or smells to reach your neighbors.)
  • Do you sit quietly until the restroom clears out, and then go as quickly as you can? This is a classic move in smaller restrooms, but news flash – people know your plan; they’ve done it, too!
  • Or, you could simply “ride your neighbor’s flush”. This is the move where you wait until someone else flushes the toilet, and hope you can take care of business before the bathroom quiets down again. Good luck!
In the end, just go. Everyone poops. And anyone who says they don’t is full of it!

Volume 7: Staying Cool in the Hot Seat.

In a previous volume, we learned that cayenne pepper can burn on the way out as much as on the way in, but did you know there’s something with the opposite affect? Peppermint oil and its key component, menthol, function as smooth muscle relaxants and anti-spasmodic agents. When released in the intestines, peppermint oil supports healthy intestinal contractions, reduces cramping and promotes comfortable elimination. Products made with peppermint have cooling effects that can actually soothe your intestinal muscles. In fact, peppermint provides support of the entire gastrointestinal tract from mouth to…well, you know. Let’s just say that users have reported a cooling sensation as peppermint exits their bodies, as well. Minty fresh all the way around!

Volume 6: It’s corn season!

And you can tell, can’t you? But why is that? Why do some foods – even after we chew ‘em up with our choppers – seemingly remain intact as they pass through our system? Mostly, it has a lot to do with how that food is structured. While cellulose and other fibers are useful in moving food through our digestive systems, we don’t really “digest” fiber in the way we digest proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. And, even though we chew food as we eat it, our teeth don’t disintegrate the stuff. So it’ll be recognizable when it comes through the other side, too.The important thing is to keep enjoying corn season, and salad season, and all of the fresh foods from the garden season. Just try not to think of that whole “it still looks the same thing” too much. It makes for a much better dining experience.

Volume 5: The transit time of your food.

As you’d expect, different foods generally have different transit times. Typically “heavy” foods like red meat can take quite a long time to work all the way through your system, while some lighter foods and fiber types can be “processed” in pretty short order. Fiber can balance out the transit time and absorption of sugars, keeping the "spike" out of sweeteners and starchy meals. Fiber, on the other hand, should have a higher viscosity in order to maximize its transit time through the GI tract, providing a gentle “scrubbing” on the intestinal walls. Therefore, higher the viscosity, the greater the potential benefit. If you’ve been a bit short on fiber in your diet, but want to change your habits, just add one fiber-rich snack per day to your meals (or between meals) each week. The next week, add another, and so on. That way, your digestive system won’t feel surprised (and let you know in potentially unpleasant ways) when you begin to start shifting over to a healthier diet.

Volume 4: Heat in, heat out.

Ever have a spicy meal and regret it later? It always seems surprising when what seemed hot on the way in, keeps those attributes on the way out, too. One of the reasons is that while capsaicin, the component that gives cayenne its kick, is readily absorbed in the digestive tract, there may be plenty left over to absorb into your gastrointestinal membranes all the way through. While in the middle of your spicy feast – while it’s still fun – you might consider milk or something rough textured, like rice or a banana as a way of putting out the fire. Water seems to just move the burn around faster. Remember, eating for taste is a good thing. Eating to prove a point – well, not so much.

Volume 3: How much gas (aka: flatulence) is average?

Although flatulence is much beloved by eight-year-old boys everywhere, it's not so popular in the grown-up universe (at least not publicly). Everybody's had what you’d call an “elevator moment.” Those times are embarrassing enough, but they're especially tough when you can't blame the dog. Well, anywhere between 14 and 23 times a day (don’t deny it) is most likely. So don’t worry – just make a sport of it – start counting to see where you fall on the scale.

Volume 2: The “sticky” situation.

If you’ve ever wondered, “When will I stop wiping?” it could be due to an occasion of quick-moving stool. Although we normally associate runnier material with a fast-moving digestive system, if it goes through the colon quickly, it can take on a more ‘peanut butter’ quality.  There may be something in your diet that just isn’t getting digested properly, but many factors could be at play. You can consider switching your diet for a few days if you suspect that may be the case, either switching out a few items, like dairy or simple carbs, or adding others, like mixed green salads and fresh fruit. Or both.

Volume 1: The perfect poop.

If you are reading this section, you’re probably no stranger to checking out the bowl after a trip to the bathroom, we're all curious - it's normal. Between noticing shapes and colors, you may have wondering if an ideal form existed. It does. The best is a continuous log, forming a coil in the toilet bowl. It doesn’t break up into pieces and doesn’t look like a tree stump. Of course, to create this masterpiece, it must eliminate easily, which indicates good balance. Not there yet? Watch your diet, fluid intake, and keep trying. Along the way, check back on this section where we'll address more of the questions that no one wants to ask.

Published February 01, 2012
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