Peering into the toilet bowl after some time on it might not sound like your cup of tea. It is, however, an important way to acknowledge that your body is sending you progress reports every day and letting you know how you’re feeling and reacting inside.
On the one hand, you have urine, pee, pee-pee, tinkle – the fluid window into your kidneys that feels so good to let go of and sometimes forces you to stop the car or run behind a bush. On the other hand, you’ll less frequently hear from stool – your feces, poo, poopy, doo-doo, sometimes a tough one to say goodbye to, the one many people try to hide from their friends with candles and sprays. They’re coming whether you want them to or not, so what can you learn from the pieces of yourself that leave a mark on the world?
Uroscopy – The Ancient Practice of Examining Pee
Today, examining pee is called urinalysis, but even long before now, ancient Egyptians were using uroscopy to examine pee and make inferences about people’s health. This diagnostic fluid can be used very accurately to read how your body is finding its way to maintaining homeostasis.
Urinalysis can tell you a lot in a lab, but basic uroscopy – just you, your pee, and a nearby toilet – gives you useful information too. The obvious factor that you may be familiar with, would be noting the color or clarity of your pee with countless color charts online for reference.
You should certainly consult a professional about any unusual changes or appearances to your urine. But to become familiar with your body’s processes, day to day – the first step to becoming a self-made, mini-urologist – is differentiating which releases are good for analyzing, and which to ignore.
- WHAT WON’T TELL YOU MUCH: A really small release or visits to the bathroom that come one after another when you’re sitting around. This is fluid moving through you quickly, so it won’t contain much waste.
- GOOD TIME TO TAKE A LOOK: The first release of the morning after your body has used sleep to run its restorative processes. At this point, urine has been sitting in the bladder for some time. It will likely be the most concentrated sample of the day. But make sure to use the bathroom before bed, and not go to sleep without having had any water!
Uncommonly Known Factors to Note From Pee
Before noting some factors to observe that are not-so-common knowledge, it’s important to say that if you notice something just once, it may not be cause for alarm. This examination is all about consistency. What happens for about three days to a week? If less serious changes are present for more than a week, or serious changes for more than 1-3 days – then consider visiting the doctor. You can look at a standard color chart here, but here are some things it might not discuss.
When your kidneys create urine, they’re secreting acid or alkali to regulate your pH, removing wastes from your bloodstream, and regulating the water, sugars, salt, amino acids, proteins, and electrolytes in your body. Whatever needs to be removed, comes out through urine.
Many people think clear pee means you’re in the clear. However, drinking too much water too fast, hyper-hydrating, means your kidneys will be flushed and your bladder overloaded. There won’t be enough time or capacity to move waste into urine before it has to be released, and your pee will look like water because that’s essentially what it is.
- HOW TO AVOID THIS: Don’t stop drinking water, rather sip slowly throughout the day instead of guzzling fluids. True hydration comes from days of fluid intake. It’s recommended to hydrate three days before a rigorous event or harsh weather. Small intakes allow proper hydration to occur and create optimal performance time for your kidney and bladder to create and pass waste.
2. Signaling your bladder incorrectly
Do your best to listen to your body’s signals and pee only when it tells you to.
- AVOID: Peeing “just in case” whenever you can. If you do this often, it signals your bladder before it needs to release and unlearns how to control itself, eventually sending you to the bathroom in the middle of the night, or way more often.
- Holding it. It only takes one time of holding it for too long to risk a urinary tract infection. It also backs up your body’s healthy homeostasis regulation.
3. Foamy or Cloudy Pee
Your pee should be the consistency, not color, of water. Cloudy pee means kidney stones or a urinary tract infection is around the corner. Whereas foamy probably means you’re eating too much protein (yes, this exists contrary to social media telling you it’s the key to unlocking all your muscular goals).
What You Might Not Know About Pee
- If you pee an average of 1.5-2 liters a day, throughout your lifetime you’ll have released the equivalent of a small pool.
- Alcohol and coffee act as mild diuretics, forcing you to the bathroom more frequently, and causing water loss through urine. Make sure to drink enough water to match other liquids you consume that won’t hydrate you to the same effect.
- Some supplements and vitamin B will cause pee to be bright yellow – check with a professional if you actually lack these vitamins and need to be taking supplements.
What Bananas and Poop Have in Common
Many people think of urine as the response to fluid intake and stool as the result of food consumption, yet your poop is 75% water and highly affected by fluids as well. The other 25% is indigestible food, dead bacteria, and inorganic substances. What does this have to do with bananas? Sorry to ruin them for you, but their shape and texture are the best comparisons to a healthy poop that you could pass. Or you could think of the iPhone poop emoji, brown, smooth, all in one piece, and smiling.
Think in Three’s
Examining before you flush is, again, about recognizing how consistent your poop is. Awareness of what it normally feels like, looks like, and how often you poop, can make it easier to get back to regular and healthy passes.
Unlike urine, stool can be a product of three days’ consumption and processing. Passing three times a day can be normal, and so can passing every one to three days. Just keep in mind the previous three days’ food and activities when you’re analyzing.
If you’ve had the common experience of delays and constipation when starting a vacation – there’s a pretty simple explanation. Your poop is quite fickle and affected by stress, illness, diet changes, medicines, and changes to exercise and routine. So, keep in mind to only be alarmed if problems persist or if you have dangerous signals (i.e. blood, severe pain).
Sneaky Culprits of Irregular Poop
Without going into every color and texture, you can view these charts for a not-so-graphic reference to analyze your stool. Things that deviate from the healthy standard of banana-shaped, smoothly textured, and brown colored — might be the product of more than just what you’ve eaten.
- This is not only when a meal doesn’t sit, but could be the result of the flu or other viruses, magnesium medications like antibiotics or antacids, or lactose intolerance.
- TRY: Introducing electrolytes into your body (but avoid sugary drinks that advertise electrolytes) and discuss medication side effects with a professional.
2. Light-colored, floating stool
- Your liver might be way more sensitive to alcohol than you think, light-colored floating stool is an early sign of liver damage due to alcohol consumption.
- Stop consuming alcohol until you speak with a doctor.
3. Floating Stool
- This could occur if you’ve had a lot of gas before pooping, but if it continues, you’re not absorbing nutrients or could have a gastrointestinal infection and should speak to a doctor.
- If you usually exercise and stopped, hopping back in will get things moving in your bowels once more.
- Antidepressants and prescribed pain killers, along with dehydration can cause constipation.
- TRY: Introducing whole foods that are naturally fibrous, which will serve you better than processed fiber bars and cereals. Drink lots of water and do some cautious activity to get your insides pumping again.
- Iron pills and medicines with the ingredient bismuth (i.e. Pepto-Bismol) can lead to black, tar-like poop.
What You Might Not Know About Poop
- Easy to find on a nutrition label, women need 25 grams and men 38 grams of fiber for healthy passage. Use these foods to meet that mark each day.
- Modern-day toilets are no good for pooping – they kink your colon and block circulation. Don’t spend too much time reading or being distracted while on the toilet. Instead prop your feet below you while on the toilet, for a more natural position.
- If you suspect you have gastrointestinal or gut issues, a stool test at a holistic doctor can tell you nearly everything you need to know to resolve the issue.
- Chew your food! Around 30 seconds on each bite, especially meat, will improve your digestion and nutrition intake so that you actually benefit from what you eat.
Read your body’s most tangible way of showing you what it needs. Calculate your activity, hydration, meals, and any recent stress before worrying too much about one irregular movement. Afford yourself these small changes to improve your health and achieve the consistency your body wants to feel good!
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