5 reasons why to take care of your poop health

Bowel movements can either signal that you’re doing great, or suggest health challenges before other symptoms arise.

So, it is important we check out the messages, our poop is providing us

Gut Health – normal poop are soft and formed (not hard or lumpy). They are passed without urgency or straining. Water makes up more than 70% of our stool. The rest is a stinky combination of fiber, dead and live bacteria, cells and mucus. Soluble fiber found in foods like beans and nuts is broken down during digestion and forms a gel-like substance that becomes part of poop. On the other hand, foods packed with insoluble fiber, such as corn, oat bran, and carrots, are more difficult for the body to digest, which explains why they may emerge in our poop looking relatively unchanged.

When our gut is healthy and everything is working properly, it produces healthy poop. Problematic poo signals that something is interfering with our gut’s operations. This could indicate:

nutrient deficiencies
immune problems
hormone imbalance
blood sugar irregularities
disrupted circadian rhythm (e.g. jet lag, shift work)
medications like antibiotics and painkillers
chronic diseases like Crohn’s and colitis

Choose whole, minimally processed foods like fruit, vegetables, and fresh fish – the richest sources of nutrients our gut needs.

Practice eating slowly and mindfully, and tune into your physical hunger and satiety cues.

This will help take care of any deficiencies and ensure that your food doesn’t move too quickly through the GI tract and hinder nutrient absorption.

Healthy poop should sink in the toilet – floating stools are often an indication of high fat content, which can be a sign of mal-absorption, a condition in which you can’t absorb enough fat and other nutrients from the food you’re ingesting. When your poop floats, it may also be associated with celiac disease or chronic pancreatitis.

Regularity

Bowel movements are a necessity of life. They allow you to empty waste from your diet via your intestines. While all people make bowel movements, the frequency varies greatly.

Some researchers indicate that anywhere from three bowel movements a day to three a week can be normal. Sometimes the consistency of a person’s stool can be a more significant indicator of bowel health than frequency. However, if a person doesn’t poop often enough or too frequently, both can cause severe health problems.

You’re dehydrated – if your poo is small and hard, you may assume you need more fiber—but it may actually mean you‘re not getting enough water.

Why you should care

Water helps move waste through and keep gut flora healthy. If you’re not getting enough water, these two things won’t happen effectively.

If the gut needs water and isn’t getting it, it’ll pull that water from elsewhere to get the job done, which can compromise other systems. For instance, you might get muscle cramping or a dry mouth.

How to fix it

Drink more water, especially during and after workouts.

Look at your overall beverage consumption. How much of that is juice, soda, caffeinated drinks, and/or alcohol? Could you substitute water for those things instead, or at least alternate glasses of water with each beer or coffee?

You’re too stressed
Remember, your GI tract is connected to your central nervous system. Your upstairs brain and your “gut brain” talk to each other.

When you’re stressed (or afraid, or anxious, or rushed, or overwhelmed), your brain and gut know, and your digestion slows down.

Ever had the experience of not being able to eat when you’re feeling especially anxious? That’s because blood flow and enzyme production in the gut are limited during stress.

Your GI tract may slow down so that your body can focus on dealing with what it sees as a threat, so you may find yourself constipated, bloated, and dealing with indigestion.

Or your body may follow an “everyone out of the pool” policy, and things may run right through you.

Bottom line: If you’re constipated or frequently rushing to the toilet, your stress levels may be past the area of “good stress” and into unhealthy territory.

Why you should care

If your poo is telling you you’re too stressed, you might also be dealing with:

anxiety
anger
grief, loss, sadness
depression
trouble focusing
headaches
fatigue
sleep problems
low sex drive, poor fertility, and/or a disrupted menstrual cycle (if you’re female)
How to fix it

Take stress seriously. Think about how to take care of you. (You’re worth it, after all.)

Make de-stressing a regular part of your routine.

Try stuff like:

getting outside for a walk… or just outside in general;
getting some sun and fresh air;
listening to relaxing music;
meditating and other mindfulness practices;
getting a massage;
taking a hot bath;
taking a few really good deep breaths;
laughing;
snuggling a loved one or pet;
yoga, gentle mobility, and/or slow stretching exercises;
gentle swimming or water immersion (such as a hot tub);
relaxing in a sauna;
having sex (see? who says nutrition coaching is boring?);
physically playing (yes, playing… remember that?).

Follow basic food hygiene.

Wash your hands often, wash produce, keep your kitchen clean.

But don’t go scorched-earth. Regular, non-antibacterial soap and water are usually fine.

Eat a wide variety of produce.

Diversity in your diet means diversity in your nutrient intake and microbiome, so cast a wide net.

Try adding cultured and fermented foods to your diet.

This may include foods like:

fermented dairy such as yogurt, kefir, quark and skyr
fermented non-dairy such as almond or coconut milk yogurt
sauerkraut
kimchi and other Korean-style pickled vegetables (which are traditionally fermented rather than brined)
traditionally made miso, tempeh, and tofu, if you can find it
You may also consider a probiotic supplement. In North America, look for brands with the Good Manufacturing Process (GMP) sticker.

Eat slowly
Take your time to taste your food and notice how it makes you feel.

Slowing down will help your GI tract do its job (it hates to be rushed). It’ll help you eat the right amount for your body.

Paying attention to how your food makes you feel can tip you off to any food intolerances.

All of these help you maintain a healthy weight, healthy gut function, and healthy poo.

Talk to your doctor or nutrition coach about an elimination diet if you’re concerned about a food sensitivity, allergy, or intolerance.

Stay hydrated.
We need water to move things through our GI tract.

Drink up—especially on hot days and when you’re active.

Manage your stress
Too much stress can harm your health.

If stress or anxiety are either plugging you up or opening the sluice gates, try some stress management techniques and improve the quality of your sleep.

Give yourself time to go to the bathroom. Respect your body’s needs; if you have to evacuate your colon, do it.

Grow a garden and/or hang out at a farm.
If you live in a city, try joining a community garden project. If you can, drop by a farm occasionally—buy some fresh foods, get a little soil under your fingernails.

Being exposed to beneficial soil bacteria (such as Mycobacterium vaccae, which may even act as an antidepressant and immune system booster) can help diversify your microbiome.

As a plus, a little fresh air and time amongst plants can help decrease stress.

Know when to go to the doc.
If you notice red in your stool that isn’t from red gummi bears or beets, talk to your doctor.

While the presence of blood (which can be red or black) can be relatively benign (such as hemorrhoids), it can also be serious (such as colon cancer).

One look at your poo is not a complete health assessment. That said, it can tip you off about possible health concerns, where early detection matters.

Don’t try to diagnose on your own: if something strange is going on with your poo, talk to your doctor.

If you’re curious, get your microbiome tested.
Thanks to modern science, you can now learn more about your own unique microbiome. Through programs like Viome you can get your microbiome tested through an online kit.

Bear in mind that there isn’t an industry standard in place yet. We still don’t know what the “best” balance of microbiota is. However, a test can tell you the basics, such as how diverse your internal ecosystem is.

How much protein do you really need

High protein diet, low carbohydrate-high protein etc seems to be the current buzzword these days. The question remains though how much protein do we really need – a lot depends on our digestive system. A protein-heavy meal is difficult to break down and digest – leading to cases of high acidity. Additionally, if we lead a sedentary lifestyle, the actual body requirement for protein may not be much.

However, the most important factor, is protein quality determined by its essential amino acid composition and the digestibility and bio-availability of its amino acids.

The amount of protein required is often estimated based on body weight, as a percentage of total caloric intake (10-35%), or based on age alone. 0.8g/kg of body weight is a commonly cited recommended dietary allowance. This value is the minimum recommended value to maintain basic nutritional requirements, but consuming more protein, up to a certain point, may be beneficial, depending on the sources of the protein for people who are highly active, or who wish to build more muscle should generally consume more protein. The amount of protein a person should consume, to date, is not an exact science, and each individual should consult a specialist, be it a dietitian, doctor, or personal trainer, to help determine their individual needs.

Choose lean, tender meat
Meat, poultry and seafood are easy to digest if you choose tender, whole cuts or ground meat and avoid tough, gristly portions. Prepare each by roasting, poaching or braising until the meat is soft and well-done.

Have dairy in moderation
Milk, soft or hard cheeses, yogurt and other milk-based products such as ice cream or pudding are easily digestible. Limit your intake to two servings each day; one serving is equivalent to 1 cup of yogurt or milk or 1 ounce of cheese. Choose low- or nonfat dairy products over full-fat ones to keep your fat intake low. If you’re a vegan, a strict vegetarian or lactose-intolerant, you can substitute plant milks, lactose-reduced milk or supplement with lactase enzymes.

Enjoy Eggs
All types of cooked eggs, including hard- or soft-boiled, scrambled, poached or fried, are acceptable for people limited to easy-to-digest foods. One whole egg counts as one protein serving and is equivalent to 1 ounce of cooked meat, seafood or poultry.

Pick Plant Proteins Carefully
Avoid all dried beans and legumes, nuts, seeds and high-protein whole grains such as quinoa while you’re following a low-fiber diet. Choose almonds, chia seeds and lentils in limited quantities through out the day.

Also consider pumpkin seeds – they contain a wide variety of antioxidant phytonutrients, including the phenolic acids hydroxybenzoic, coumaric, ferulic, sinapic, vanillic and syringic acid; and the lignans pinoresinol, medioresinol and lariciresinol. Pumpkins seeds also contain health-supportive phytosterols, including beta-sitosterol, sitostanol and avenasterol. Pumpkin seeds are a very good source of phosphorus, magnesium, manganese and copper. They are also a good source of other minerals including zinc and iron. In addition, pumpkin seeds are a good source of protein.

To summarise – plan your protein intake according to your activity level, lifestyle and food habits and quality of protein intake.

Is critical care insurance really Critical to have

These policies covering heart attack, organ transplant, loss of vision or cancer or any serious medical condition as prescribed by your insurance company involve paying a lump-sum amount to cover treatment, prescriptions and deductibles. Sounds great, right as the yearly premium comes at a not so premium pricing. However, there are a few points which needs to be pondered over:

  1. Waiting periods – most benefits will not be provided till 90 days
  2. Reduction in benefits with age – in addition to increase of premium with age, the lump-sum payment may get reduced with age
  3. Not all diseases may be covered – for example, non-invasive cancers may not be covered in all policies. It’s important to read the fine print
  4. Not all pre-existing diseases are covered
  5. Is generally a one-time payment – so in cases of repeat heart attack, it may not be cover

So, this begs the question – should you buy critical care insurance?

Critical Illness insurance plans do not cover pre-existing medical conditions as covered by traditional mediclaim. Also, the increase in premiums for critical illness insurance plans are much higher than traditional plans. Further, most policies will reduce or completely remove your benefits on reaching a specified age, when you would require the coverage the most.

This insurance does give the user a degree of comfort; however, for many, critical illness insurance is just not worth the price. You should be fully aware of the benefits available with your mediclaim should you suddenly face a serious illness. If you think it is insignificant, try topping-up your plans for a far more affordable option. The overall premium may be higher, it will be worth it to not buying an independent critical illness insurance policy.

Retiring early isn’t worth the grind

The concept of FIRE, financial independence and retiring early, seems to be in vogue nowadays. People have taken up the concept of leaving their jobs to work on their passion in the hope of working on stuff they genuinely love and generating income at the same time.

Earlier, retirement meant something that older people do after decades of working. Now, when we talk of early retirement, it mean being financially secure so that you don’t need to work unless you want to.

Tantalizing idea – travelling the world, working remotely at your own pace and not having a boss breathing down your neck is inviting indeed. Few things need to be taken care of before we decide to leave our daily jobs.

Will the savings last, considering we may live till 80 years and more

Rate of growth of our investments and will it be able to beat inflation, after monthly withdrawals

How to use the time profitably, as friends and family may not have so much time to spare

Considering only 1 in 3 people are saving for their retirements, as per a recent Livemint survey, more than 50% of the people have nothing saved for retirement barring the mandatory PPF and ELSS / NSC / 80C investments at the end of each calendar year. 70% of the people expect financial help from their children after they retire whereas currently only about 30% retirees receive financial support from the next generation.

A simple rule of thumb is we should be having at least 20 times our current yearly spends in the retirement basket, considering there could be the years to live ahead without any monthly income. This is apart from your life and medical insurance.

Also, we tend to peak in terms of earnings around 50 – 55, so you need to be absolutely sure before losing these golden years. You never know what emergency may come once you leave your daily job. All the best for your future.

Active investor types

Active investing refers to an investment style involving ongoing buying and selling activity and continuously monitoring their activity to exploit profitable conditions. Active investors typically look at the price movements of their stocks many times a day. Essentially, active investors are seeking short-term profits.

However, that may not be possible for all investors, who may find it more convenient to invest / monitor once or twice a month basis own research or financial adviser recommendations. Let us redefine the term “active investor” to a value investor for the sake of our discussion – someone who adds value with each transaction.

Normally, the more the stock value rises, the more people believe in it and the investment consequently increases. Value investing is a style which is exactly the opposite – investing in quality stocks which are running at a low value. This begs the question of how do we decide whether a stock is undervalued (which we will discuss in a separate article).

Investing in stocks, by its very nature, is an uncertain exercise – the company may fail or the industry may undergo a change due to innovation and more, all of them beyond any control of the investor. The only thing which can be controlled is the price at which the stock is bought – same investment amount can be termed positive or negative depending on the price at which the stock was bought.

While it is impossible to time the market, a SIP takes out much of the risk involved and having a SIP of few chosen stocks and staying invested through highs and lows can deliver impeccable returns.

Few suggestions of great stocks

  1. Jamna Auto Industries – has already outperformed the Sensex by more than 35% in the last one year. Current share price Rs 73.60, potential upside of more than 40% for the next year, PE ratio 19.09 where the industry PE is 23 plus
  2. UPL – agreed to acquire agri-pesticides maker Arysta LifeScience Inc and its subsidiaries for $4.2 billion (around Rs 28,980 crore) in cash to become one of the world’s leading crop protection companies. This gives it expertise in speciality molecules where UPL is relatively weaker with more access to Africa and China. Current share price Rs 776.25. potential an upside of more than 5% for the next year. PE ratio 18.9 where the industry PE is 38.9
  3. India Bulls Housing finance – has reported around 30% earnings CAGR with similar rate expected for next year. Current share price Rs 706.05, potential upside of more than 120% for the next year. PE ratio 7.01 where the industry PE is 20.26

3 investor types

As they say,  the way a person does one thing is the way they do Everything. So if you cut corners while working; however insignificant they may be, it’s probably leading to a mediocre life and you are nowhere near what you envision yourself to be.

 

Beginning with streamlining your finances could be a good start to getting your life shipshape. Let’s begin with deciding on the type of investor you are and we can suggest the kind of actions that need to be taken basis your risk taking ability.

 

There are normally three types of investors

  • Dormant investor
  • Crowd follower
  • Active investor

 

Dormant investor is one with minimal awareness of the various possibilities and if not for the HR dept they probably would never have set up their own PF account. Money keeps languishing in their bank accounts leading to difficulties in beating inflation and they have a high chance of suffering poverty after retirement.

 

Crowd follower is one who goes with the current flow – they may make money, if they are lucky. This also leads to cases of them losing the money in the long run if they are not careful and don’t educate themselves.

 

Active investors take initiative to learn how the financial system works and make money regardless of how the market is faring or reduce losses during the bear market. They create a specific plan and stick to it – sticking to buying during a downturn is one of the wisest things one can do.

 

The difficult task is finalizing a course of action to undertake and ensuring automatic deduction, only reviewing your decisions at the end of each year. If we are able to make correct buying choices, you will be able to enjoy a much more enjoyable life without worrying about finances.

 

In the end, the biggest investment on our own selves is the best investment that we can make. Make an informed decision.

 

Allow us to create a portfolio for you based on your personality traits – please share your email id and we will send you a template to decide on future course of action. We don’t charge for services – our ambition is to enable all readers to earn higher rewards going forward.