Getting down and dirty

By: Alison Dunn Mar 22, 2011
Getting down and dirty

Warning: This blog post might get a bit, ahem, dirty.

Now, before your mind goes THERE, I’m not talking about THAT. I’m talking about another “dirty” topic of conversation most of us would prefer to avoid – only it’s one that could have a profound effect on our overall health.

I’m talking, of course, of that most private of subjects: your bowels and how well they work. (Or, for some people, how well they don’t work.) The truth is that none of us like talking about it very much, and really, why should we? It’s private, it’s kind of dirty and it’s pretty much disgusting. Scatological humour aside, most of us usually go about our “business” and don’t discuss it. With anyone.

The only problem is that by not discussing it, we could be ignoring some very important health information. Now, I don’t mean we all need to start up a conversation about poop while we’re eating dinner or out with friends, but there are some people who need to know about how well our bowels move – our health professionals.

When I was researching this week’s article, “The scoop on poop,” naturopathic doctor Christina Bjorndal told me that your daily constitutional can actually be one of the best indicators of health. Healthy movements often equal good overall health – and something out of the ordinary can be an indicator of a larger health issue.

Don’t believe me? Check out these facts:

  • Constipation and/or blood in the stool is often a symptom of colon cancer.
  • Constipation, foul-smelling and/or loose stools can be a symptom of celiac disease.
  • Constipation can be a symptom of irritable bowel syndrome.
  • Foul-smelling stools can mean Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.

Part of the problem, though, is that because none of us really talk about our bowel movements, we often don’t know what is normal and what’s not normal. It’s easy to notice a change in your own movements if something out of the ordinary happens, but how do we know if our “ordinary” movements are healthy if we don’t talk about them?

According to Dr. Bjorndal, the best way to learn about the health of your movements is by talking to a health professional before a problem occurs. That means it’s time to pipe up during your regular physical and start talking about your poop. Learn what’s normal and what’s not, so you can spot any changes immediately.

Some of the diseases above can be pretty scary, but are treatable if detected early. Just talking a little bit “dirty” once in a while could be the best thing you ever do for your health.

A journalist with more than 10 years experience, Alison’s work has appeared in a number of top Canadian publications, including glow, Oxygen, Canadian Running and more. She is the former editor of a number of well-respected Canadian and American trade journals and recipient of a Kenneth R. Wilson Gold Award of Excellence in feature article writing. She is a part-time faculty member at Sheridan College’s journalism department, as well as an avid runner and fitness enthusiast.