Tag Archives: wind

Some ‘bowel action’ chat

Lets have a chat about assessing the toilet contents from our bowel as most of us regularly look in there. From now on we will call this call this ‘poo’ for want of a better word as ‘feces’ or ‘stools’ are doctors terms and not what most of us use.

There is so much variation in what is normal that we need to focus on what is normal for us COMBINED with information about how easy our poo is to pass and whether we have regular diarhoea or constipation or odd coloured poo.

Poo will vary from one individual to another in terms of the shape, consistency and colour. Using the four steps below lets look at how we can use this information to assess our bowel habits when having concerns.

Step1.Consider: Form

This gives us an idea about whether or not we may be having constipation or too frequent stools. The Bristol Stool Chart was developed by Dr. K.W Heaton in the late 90’s to help us with this assessment, take a look and see how your bowel habits rate.

Reference: Heaton, K W & Lewis, S J 1997, ‘Stool form scale as a useful guide to intestinal transit time’. Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology, vol.32, no.9, pp.920 – 924.

The Bristol stool chart van be used for us to get an idea of how quickly our gut contents are moving through the bowel. Take a look and see where your poo, the end result of travels,  usually fits. Numbers 3-4 are the easiest poo types to pass and suggest an optimum processing/digestion time in our bowel. The lower numbers suggest constipation and the higher numbers suggest more rapid gut transit with less formed stools or diarrhoea.

Step 2. Consider Pain or Discomfort.

Think about whether you are having pain when you pass your poo, experiencing excess gas before you go or whether instead the whole event is unremarkable.

Step 3. Consider Colour.

Take a look at the colour of the poo. This is largely determined by the addition of  greenish bile salts from the liver, a digestive aid, which gradually change to brown as they do their job in the bowel while passing along. So brown is the ‘regular’ colour but lighter poo can occur and darker poo too as well as red poo.

Light poo suggests potentially insufficient bile salts being added to your gut contents.

Red tinged poo usually includes some blood from the large bowel and a visit to the dr is required to discuss/investigate where this blood is coming from. Black poo also can indicate blood but from a source higher up the bowel and needs investigation.

Dark poo will also be seen if you are taking an oral iron supplement, have eaten a lot of beetroot or blueberries due to the natural colours they contain. Artificially coloured foods such as licorice, bubble-gum icecream and the like may also do this.

Step 4. Consider frequency

Actually, how often you go is less important than what you are doing. For example one person may have four poos a day that are easy to pass and a number 3 on the Bristol Stool Chart, nothing worth noting there. Another person may have four poos a day that involve pain and discomfort and are number 1 on the chart, this is indicating constipation and small amounts of poo are being passed each time.  The constipated individual can get help to improve bowel function.

Step 5. Temporary or long-term changes?

Consider whether these changes such as light colour, dark colour, mucus, excess gas, constipation or diarrhea are just occurring briefly or if they are regular occurrences. Brief changes that pass can be quite normal but If you are having long-term problems with your bowel it is time to get some reassurance by investigating potential causes and solutions with your Doctor and an Accredited Practising Dietitian specialising in the gastrointestinal system http://www.digestiondietitian.com.au/. It could be that you need to adjust your dietary fibre intake http://www.digestiondietitian.com.au/2016/05/29/fibre-and-your-bowel/, trial a low-FODMAP diet http://www.digestiondietitian.com.au/2016/05/24/what-are-fodmaps/, take a few blood tests etc http://www.digestiondietitian.com.au/accurate-diagnosis/

 

 

What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a condition where a set of symptoms, including abdominal bloating and pain, wind and altered bowel movements affect sufferers’ lives. It is a common condition affecting up to 15% of the general population and is called a Functional Gastrointestinal Disorder. This means that the nerves and muscles of the gut may not be working in combination optimally causing digestive upset and bowel issues.

Depending on your symptoms a diagnosis of IBS is best made after other, more serious conditions, are excluded. Some tests organised by your GP or a Gastroenterologists can help to rule out Helicobacter Infection, Coeliac Disease, Diverticular Disease to name a few of the organic gut disorders .

Getting some control back over your bowel symptoms will mean you can spend more time on the fun things in life and less time in the bathroom! This is where a change in some aspects of your diet including some difficult to digest/absorb foods, food volume and timing can help. It is best done in an organised manner to ensure that the minimum number of restrictions results and the maximum amount of comfort.

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Fibre and your Bowel

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The fibre content of your diet refers to the part of what you eat that is the carbohydrate fraction of your diet resistant to the digestion and absorption in the small bowel. Some types of fibre are called polysaccharides, oligosaccharides and lignins. The dietary fibre part of our diet promotes actions that are laxative (increasing movement of bowel contents) ,improve our bodies blood glucose response after eating, lower blood cholesterol as well as promoting the action of gut bacteria to make substances that improve bowel health.

Fibre types vary in the degree to which they will be fermented in the large intestine by the action of the bacteria there so some result in a lot of wind production and others less so. Because of this the use if high fibre diets or fibre supplements to treat constipation may cause bloating and pain if the fibre type is a fermentable one such as wheat bran or psyllium. The low FODMAP plant foods and the non-fermentable fibres found in the Sterculia plant (Normafibe supplement) and Methylcellulose (Citrocel) can improve symptoms of constipation more gently.

Those with diarhoea-dominant bowel symptoms may need a total lower fibre intake and some other dietary modifications to slow the transit of gut contents.

Modifying the types of fibre in your diet can assist to control your bowel symptoms and sorting out which diet and supplement best suit your condition can be very helpful.

 

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Bowel Symptom Monitoring

Bowel symptom monitoring ,by keeping a four week daily food and symptom diary, is a great way to keep track of changes in your gut symptoms and identify potential trigger food groups/ food molecules. Use our page ,attached below, or an electronic diary if you prefer.

The bowel symptom/bowel habit section is particularly useful so don’t be shy about getting down to the nitty-gritty there. I find it very helpful if bathroom events are noted in the bottom (no pun intended) row and the feelings of digestive upset noted anywhere on the daily column that they occur so the timing of these around foo and drink consumption is noted.

Tip: a week at a glance diary shows symptom change very clearly. Download a copy and modify it if needed to suit your needs.

Food and Symptom DIARY

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My Digestion Interest

 

How I became a Perth dietitian specialising in digestive issues.

My interest in this area stemmed from suffering with some digestive issues of my own- it is amazing how some pain and discomfort focuses the mind!

Now I regularly see people who have had a long history of digestive issues. Symptoms may include gastric reflux, nausea, burping, bloating, abdominal pain and cramping, flatulence, diarrhoea or constipation or all of the above.

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Symptoms may have bothered them for a short time or a longer time but the common factor is how much these symptoms interfere with them enjoying their daily life – family, social, work and play. To reduce symptoms they may have tried omitting one or more dietary components, talked briefly (short appointments) with their GP about it, seen a specialist once, read widely on the internet, bought expensive products and supplements and for all this effort still feel unwell and very frustrated.

A visit with me allows time(first visit is one hour) to get the full medical and dietary history, look at any recent test results and dietary trial results as well as see what underlying causes need excluding –some tests can be done through your GP and others , if required,  may need to be performed by a gastroenterologist.   This methodical plan is what gets results, results that are very difficult to achieve with an ad-hoc approach.

I have worked as a Dietitian for over twenty-five years in a range of health settings and am an Accredited Practising Dietitian. I now work at The Nutrition Specialists, Perth, with individuals needing to better manage their health and digestive difficulties .Keeping the focus on diagnosing the problem, avoiding unnecessary restrictions and finding practical ways for each person to maintain the diet changes they need results in increased digestive comfort . I am also a total food lover enjoying simple , minimally processed, delicious food.

Posts will be added to this monthly so just check the archive and click on the latest month to reveal new posts.

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