Don’t have time to watch? Read here the full transcript of nutritionist Melissa Ramos’ TEDx Talk on The Answer to Your Health is in Your Poop at TEDxDistilleryDistrictWomen conference. To learn more about the speaker, visit her website.
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Melissa Ramos – Nutritionist
Many of you may feel that what you’re about to hear may be taboo and even a little dirty.
My name is Melissa Ramos, nutritionist and acupuncturist, and I love talking about shit, from rabbit poop to pencil thin poop and logs that look like a baby’s arm, I think it’s crucial to realize the importance of opening up your brown star and having a healthy bowel movement.
Why? Because what’s in your toilet bowl will give you great insight on what’s going on with your health.
But here is the thing: people are so scared to talk about it. I mean, ladies, we don’t drop the mother load in our man’s toilet bowl; do we? No. And farts? Hell no; we whisper in our panties.
You see, the problem is that by not talking about it, many digestive issues continue to go unaddressed. You see, it’s made people public poop folks, prairie-dogging it and holding in their poop until they’re able to go home — you know you might be one of them — able to go home until you realize, uh, I’ve missed my poop window.
But realize this: every single time that you hold in your poop, you have blood capillaries that are attached to your large intestine, and that sucks up a bunch of the toxins and it gets reabsorbed. So in other words, your body is essentially drinking your poop, right? Makes you kind of second-guess that right?
So I’ve seen patients that have had sinus infections, weight issues, acne, depression, hormonal issues like polycystic ovarian syndrome, endometriosis, and more. And you know what I realized was that there was this one common denominator: digestive issues.
In fact, you would be surprised at how many people would never consider themselves constipated despite going a couple of times a week or every other day. In fact, you may be one of them. I know I once was.
I was in my late 20s and I had just purchased a home about eight months prior. And I was engaged to be married. The thing was the one secret I didn’t tell anybody that I was holding in I wasn’t in love. So sure I was exercising and eating well but I was lucky if I went to the bathroom even a couple times a week. So after having several Eat Pray Love moments of quietly sobbing on the bathroom floor, I decided that I needed to let go. And so I did.
I left my fiancée, I sold the house and I moved back to the city. I let go. And you know what happened? My bowel movements regulated. In fact, I was making up for lost time if you know what I’m saying.
So what happened here right? Well, let me explain this to you from a Chinese medical viewpoint. The lungs in Chinese medicine house the emotion grief, and we’ve all heard of the saying: have yourself a good cry because you know what, when you do it can be very cleansing. But the thing is when we suppress emotions, like grief, for example, it’s a stuck energy that lodges in the lung. And according to Chinese medicine, it will end up filtering that stuck energy filtering on down to its partner organ, the large intestine, and it gets stuck there.
You see, from an emotional standpoint, the large intestine is responsible for releasing toxic emotions. So when we don’t express emotions, we become constipated.
A 2008 study in the Neuroendocrinology Letters revealed that people who were anxious and depressed had higher rates of constipation. In fact, there is nowhere other than your brain that has more neurons on it than your large intestine, and researchers have known this for decades about the mind and the gut connection. And it’s the reason why that our digestive system has also been touted as the second brain.
Now let’s face it: how many of us here have ever experienced some sort of emotional bout in your digestive system start to take slack, right? I mean whether it’s a heartbreak, or I don’t know, maybe you lost your job or something work-related that had you running to the bathroom with loose bowel movements, or maybe your tummy grumbled and gurgled right before you were out to do a TED talk, right? So there’s this lovely thing called stress and many of us are very familiar with this.
You see, most people would consider themselves reasonably stressed, whether it’s, you know, financial stress or burning the candle at both ends, because, you know, North America, everything was due yesterday, right? The problem is, is that when we’re stressed, our cortisol which is our stress hormone increases. When that cortisol level increases, then our digestive fire decreases. And when I say digestive fire, I also — essentially that means hydrochloric acid according to Western medicine. And this is kind of an important fact, because we require hydrochloric acid to be able to break down food, particularly proteins and turn on energizing vitamins like Vitamin B12. And there’s a ton of people who are deficient in Vitamin B12 today, OK.
And also, if you’re somebody who eats and then all of a sudden feels bloated after you eat, you have to consider, maybe I actually have low hydrochloric acid, or my stomach fire is a bit weak.
You see, stress really impacts how we assimilate food, how it creates deficiencies and it really impacts how we poop. Now this isn’t to say that only emotions affect our poop because, of course, diet does as well, because as a nutritionist I’d be out of a job, let’s face it, right.
Now if you’re somebody who is used to having a processed food diet, or maybe and/or you are used to like a long past antibiotic use, chances are that you actually might be deficient in good friendly bacteria. And if this isn’t making sense to you, the word probiotic might. OK, because right now in the media we hear a lot about probiotic in yogurt and so forth. And you’re like, ‘but I eat my yogurt Melissa’, fine but you know what, it’s not a therapeutic dose for the digestive system. Not to mention, over 70% of us can’t really digest dairy past infancy.
So what would you do? You would take a probiotic supplement, would be a great start. See, probiotics are essential for the digestive system. Not to mention, people who were deficient in good friendly bacteria in their digestive system also had higher rates of anxiety and depression. In fact, a 2011 study from McMaster University revealed that people who have a lack of good friendly flora had increased rates or increased levels, I should say, of cortisol, our stress hormone that we were talking about. And as I just mentioned to you stress is a huge factor behind how we poop.
So pencil-thin poop figure eh, I mean let’s face it; this is pretty damn common, right? I mean, most people have had a little pencil-thin poop. And what this means is that your body is so stressed. See, when we’re stressed, don’t we generally sort of hold our shoulders up as earrings. We tend to get that really annoying like heartbeat by our eye and we’re winking at that dude at the coffee shop and you’re like I really don’t like you it’s my eyes, my thing. You know but it’s true, right? Or you’re grinding your teeth and you wake up and you look oh my god this hurts so bad.
Well, the same thing is happening in your large intestine. Your body is constricting, so you get this little pencil-thin poop that comes out, right, because your body is trying to keep it together.
So what’s the resolution? Well, for starters a great one is magnesium, a muscle relaxant. 70% of the North American population is deficient in magnesium, and this stat actually doesn’t really surprise me at all. And the reason why is because when we’re stressed out, we use up our magnesium stored. And when we’re stressed out, what food do we generally turn to? Sugar, right? It’s true.
So, you know, having sugar is a huge massive culprit and magnesium is essential, because when we’re stressed we turn to sugar. And then when we have the sugar, then we end up constricting and we get stressed and then we have the pencil-thin poop. And it becomes this massive vicious cycle.
Next, rabbit or pellet poop. This is probably one of the most disappointing poops you could potentially have, because no matter how hard you squeeze and whittle it, you get left with this pellet poop. And you’ve all had it. And the reason why that you’re actually having this pellet poop is for two major factors that I’ve seen in practice.
Number one is dehydration. The majority of people today are not drinking enough water. You need to be drinking about 2 liters of water per day. And the second factor is a lack of fat.