How to Poop Well

On a lighter note, today we are honored by a guest post from nutrition and fitness guru Elijah Markstrom. Welcome, Elijah! Take it away…

Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 6.39.57 AMI think a lot about my poop.  I look at my poop. I smell my poop. I notice the frequency, ease, volume and consistency of my poop on a daily basis.  Last week I took it to the next level and put my poop in the mail. 

At this point you may be wondering if I have some weird poop fetish. I don’t – I actually don’t particularly like poop!  The main reason I pay attention to my poop at all is that I am on a mission to fix my gut.

I’m a personal trainer by trade, a former track athlete, a dietary experimenter, and now a gut detective. In the coming weeks, I’ll be combining probiotics and prebiotics experiments with the uBiome test, to see what happens. I’ve been focused on improving my health for years, researching physical performance, behavioral addiction, optimal energy levels, and mental acuity to help me decide what to eat and how to exercise.

My belief is that if you are chronically exhibiting some symptom that is not ideal, there is probably an underlying problem that needs to be attended to.  And if it is not addressed, you will get more and more sick.  For me it is my skin – I breakout in acne. For others it may be sleep issues, acid reflux, allergies, or irritable bowels.  As research keeps emerging on the gut and what an important role it plays in all kinds of human body processes, it seems likely to me that many signs of dysfunction like this could be impacted by gut health.

The Gut and the Microbiome: A Moving Target

Every person is essentially two beings.  One is the muscles, fat, bones, tissue.  The “you” that you think of when you think of “me”.  The second part of every person is their gut micro-biome.  Those two parts work together.  What you eat affects your microbiome, and the balance of specific strains of bacteria in your microbiome affects what you eat. What that means is, if you want to lose fat, you need to feed the bacteria in there the right things in order to make it easier to eat the foods that favor fat loss.  It’s not just calories in and calories out.

Another important factor for optimal health is minimizing inflammation.  I’ve been gluten-free for a while now, but I’d like to see if I can reintroduce gluten while closely monitoring my microbiome. My understanding of one cause of inflammation has to do with intestinal permeability. When the lining of the large intestine is compromised, “stuff” that is not supposed to be in the blood stream ends up in the blood stream. This leads to your body launching a protective immune response, which leads to inflammation. For me it shows up as red sores on my back and some blemishes on my face.  At least that is what I think.  I am going to either prove that or rule that out over the coming months.

Last week I sent my poop specimen to uBiome to have my gut microbiome sequenced.  I don’t have the technical background to know how to interpret the data, so I have enlisted the help of my friend Grace Liu, affectionately know around the internet as the “Gut Goddess.” Grace will be helping me make sense of the results I get from uBiome.  We will use specific probiotic and prebiotic strategies to try to actually manipulate my bacteria.  Then we will retest one month after the intervention to look for any changes.  If my bacteria look good and she deems it ok, I will reintroduce some of the items (like gluten) that tend to be problematic for me. Then we will test again to see if there have been any adverse effects.

In future posts, I will share my experiments and my experience along this journey of getting to healthier poop.  And in the meantime, check out this video to get a better understanding of the Human Gut Microbiome and the impact of prebiotics.