Welcome to the new Gut Check portion of the Cove Report, where I will cover all things guts. People are always asking me about their digestive health, so I’ve created this to answer your FAQs. Thank you to my unnamed friend for these questions—send me your gut-related questions for future editions! (Do I worry that I will come to be associated with poop? Yes, somewhat.)
What is normal for a poo?
Great question! I covered that in this Instagram post, so head over there for that answer. Your poops are a marker of your health. If you are not regularly having good BMs, something isn’t right in your guts, and that could be affecting your whole body. It’s important to address this!
Why do I get diarrhea/loose stools when I get my period?
Your body releases prostaglandins when you have your period. Prostaglandins are compounds that are hormone-like: they are chemical messengers with many functions, one of which is regulating the contraction of smooth muscle. They cause the uterus to contract to get the blood out, but your intestines are also smooth muscle. So when prostaglandins are released in the pelvic area, everything contracts. In your colon (large intestine), this means that your stool moves a bit faster down the line than it’s meant to. The colon’s job is to reabsorb water from the stool, so if it that’s rushed, your stool will be watery. Prostaglandins are highest at the beginning of your cycle, which is why your cramps and loose stool are at their worst then.
My BF eats the same meals as me but farts constantly even though I don’t.
First, bless you, dear. But it is totally normal for people to have different reactions to the same foods! There are thousands (probably millions) of ways digestive tracts can vary. It might be genetic (e.g. celiac disease), or it might be due to the VERY MANY things that live in our guts, some that are supposed to be there, and some that aren’t. Different organisms have different effects on different people. And certain organisms can affect you in a way that seems completely random (and aren’t necessarily digestive in nature), so you could, in fact, be affected by the same meal, albeit in a different way.
One of my favorite tests to run for the Functional Medicine part of my practice is the GI MAP. This is a test that genetically analyzes and quantifies stool samples to see which bacteria, viruses, parasites, and protozoa are present in your gut. It also looks at a number of markers of intestinal health. I am treating a number of patients’ H. pylori (a bacterium found in the stomach); these four patients’ chief complaints are a skin rash, autoimmune thyroid disease, excessive bloating, and migraines. All of these symptoms are associated with H. pylori in the scientific literature.Another patient’s test showed he shouldn’t be eating gluten. He stopped and his chronic back pain disappeared. It all seems very random initially, but gut imbalances often cause inflammation and that inflammation can often become systemic.
If you’re interested in doing a GI MAP, let me know!
An Enlightening Parable
A great friend of mine is a Zen Buddhist and wrote about this parable in her newsletter. I think about it often and find a lot of comfort in it, so wanted to share it. On the backdrop of all the awful things that are happening socially and politically, personal troubles seem that much worse. This parable reminds me that one never knows what an outcome may bring. The world is in constant flux, shifting from darkness to light.
Once upon a time there was a Chinese farmer whose horse ran away. That evening, all of his neighbors came around to commiserate. They said, “We are so sorry to hear your horse has run away. This is most unfortunate.” The farmer said, “Maybe.” The next day the horse came back, bringing seven wild horses with it, and in the evening everybody came back and said, “Oh, isn’t that lucky. What a great turn of events. You now have eight horses!” The farmer again said, “Maybe.”
The following day his son tried to break one of the horses, and while riding it, he was thrown and broke his leg. The neighbors then said, “Oh dear, that’s too bad,” and the farmer responded, “Maybe.” The next day the conscription officers came around to conscript people into the army, and they rejected his son because he had a broken leg. Again all the neighbors came around and said, “Isn’t that great!” Again, he said, “Maybe.”
Abortion is Healthcare
If you believe that a person has the right to choose whether or not to grow something inside their body, please consider donating to an abortion fund. While we are lucky in California to not have this choice stripped from us, people in about half of the states in our country will. Local abortion funds will help these people access abortions in other states and will cover the logistics and cost of travel. Here is a website with local abortion funds across the country.
Some Social Media Stuff
I definitely feel like I am about to jinx myself by telling you that I wear a mask indoors everywhere and do not eat inside at restaurants and seem to be one of the few remaining people who hasn’t gotten Covid. Masks work!
We’re coming up on an election that includes, among other things, the Los Angeles mayoral primary. This tweet thread that has been floating around social media the past few days points out an unknown-to-me fact that if any one candidate wins 50+% of the votes in the primary, they win the office of mayor (there’s no run off). That is why it is of utmost importance to vote in this primary. You should already have your ballots. If you don’t, or if you still need to register, you can head over to the registrar recorder’s site.
A favorite Instagram account of mine. Sound up!
On a side note, I didn’t use social media (except for a few work-related posts) in February and it was fantastic. Feeling that I may start doing that again.
Have a great day, everybody! Remember to cherish the sweet things in life. Have a walk outside and revel in the blooming flowers. Perhaps pet a cute dog!
If you liked this newsletter, please share it with others!
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Always appreciate helpful #poopcontent. Thank you, Alex!!