The Scoop On Poop

By Emily Smith, DC, DICCP, Chiropractic Pediatric Specialist

Even though poop is something we are all intimately familiar with, the topic is often avoided in conversation…unless you work with kids!

Truly, having regular bowel movements is not only natural, but necessary for our health. Do you know anyone who has or currently does struggle with constipation? Did you know that 2 to 3 bowel movements a day is considered IDEAL?  Now, do you know someone who is constipated?

Actually, constipation, in definition refers more to the compactness of the stools and effort needed to expel it, rather than the frequency. In order to have well formed and easy to pass poop, you need to have fiber (aka fruits and vegetables) and liquid (aka water).

Digestion begins within the mouth with adequate chewing, which breaks down the food into small particles prior to it entering the stomach. Once broken down further by stomach acid, it moves into the small intestine where nutrients are absorbed by the body before passing on to the large intestine (colon). The colon is where water is absorbed by the body and/or fiber bulk of the stools prior to it leaving the body. If there is not enough water available, due to inadequate intake of fluids the stools may sit for longer than needed, creating hard and difficulty to pass stools.

The muscle contraction of the intestines is also necessary in order for the waste material to be moved through the digestive tract. This is where chiropractic can be helpful! Chiropractic adjustments address the interference that occurs between the nerve and every cell, tissue, organ, and system of the body.  If for instance a trauma, toxin, or stress has “muddled” the message from the brain to the digestive tract, it will not function properly, causing digestive disturbances. Symptoms may be infrequent or even too frequent bowel movements, altered consistency, altered color, or difficult with passing.

These are just some of the many reasons babies/toddlers/children/adults seek chiropractic care. Often the upper neck, lower back and/or pelvis may reveal areas of spinal misalignment.  Correction of this misalignment, through gentle chiropractic adjustments, will allow the body to function optimally. If you can eliminate any interference with the nervous system, you can avoid the interference with elimination. For those of any age who have lived a lifetime with infrequent/too frequent bowel movements, this is a pleasant change!

So what’s normal for newborns/infants/children? As newborns, diapers are filled frequently with a seedy type of mustard yellow poop, typically along with each feeding, especially when breastfed.  With careful observation, the diet of the mother can be modified to help eliminate any of the digestively offensive foods for the newborn or infant. The diapers of a formula-fed baby may be filled less often and of a firmed consistency, possibly due to the higher level of iron that formula contains. Modification can be made, through trial and error, to fin the formula that fit your baby and their digestive pattern best.

The frequency of infants’ bowel movements may slow as they mature and start taking in solids. This transition should be delayed until your baby is showing signs of interest and ability to take in solids, usually between 4 to 7 months of age. (Introducing solids before a baby is ready will NOT help them sleep better and may increase the risk of developing food allergies and can lead to digestive disturbances). Some signs that your baby is ready include the ability to sit up well on his/her own, showing interest in food that others are eating, increased hunger, and the ability to move the tongue back and forth, rather than just up and down in a sucking motion.

When introducing foods, there is no need to rush. Introducing new foods one week at a time gives the digestive system time to assimilate and lessens the risk of allergy or digestive disturbance. For some, the addition of solids can start a cycle of constipation and/or diarrhea that has never before occurred. Ruling out any allergies or sensitivities is an important step so that the offensive food can be avoided. Dairy is particularly difficulty for an immature digestive system to break down and if symptoms are noted, it is best to avoid it.

High fiber foods can be helpful to provide the bulk needed to move waste material through the digestive tract. However, as stated above, without adequate water intake, fiber will cause the stools to be harder, rather than softer, and more difficulty to pass. If your baby or child is experiencing constipation, despite eating high fiber foods, your best bet is to add more water to their diet.

For children, bowel movements should occur each day and possibly even multiple times a day.  Our fast-paced lifestyle of activities and ever-present technology can interfere with kids’ ability to literally “unplug.” Our mind and body need to relax in order to “hear” the messages that our bowels are communicating.  Making it a point to have quiet time each day will help with this process. Alternatively, exercise can also help, so move your body to help move your bowels!

Past/current intake of medications, especially antibiotics, can interfere with proper bowel function by eliminating the good bacteria from the gut and creating imbalance between the good, the bad, and the ugly (aka yeast). Taking probiotics can help to reintroduce the good bacteria and keep the bad and ugly in check.

If you are looking for foods to help keep things moving through the gut, focus on apricots, pears, plums, peaches, and prunes. If things are moving faster than you’d like (aka diarrhea), avoid dehydration by adding in more fluid (coconut water is a great option) and consider adding cinnamon to applesauce for a natural and delicious remedy.

Though her specialty is in chiropractic care  at Smith & Prissel for children and pregnant women, Dr. Emily Smith enjoys caring for patients of all ages.  Call 832-2223 or 495-4494 (cell).

Exhausted? Eat These

Don’t accept fatigue as the price of a full life, says Holly Phillips, medical contributor to CBS News and author of The Exhaustion Breakthrough (Rodale, 2015). Her solution: Aim to eat two of these edible energizers daily.

► Oats (1 cup cooked): High in fiber and protein, oats eaten for breakfast help stabilize blood sugar all day.

► Salmon (3 oz.): This fish’s hefty dose of protein speeds metabolism, which increases energy.

► Almonds (1/3 cup): They’re packed with magnesium, which helps convert sugar into energy. Protein and fiber provide sustained energy without a crash.

► Quinoa (1/2 cup cooked): Protein and amino acids in this gluten-free grain aid in muscle repair and post-workout recovery.

► Avocado (1/2 avocado): The fatty acids lower inflammation linked to fatigue-causing conditions.

► Lentils (1/2 cup cooked): High in fibe, lentils help regulate blood sugar levels, while their selenium enhances mood.

► Turkey (3 oz.): B vitamins help metabolize food into energy, while the amino acid tyrosine can keep you more alert.

► Blueberries (1/2 cup): Potent antioxidants combat free radicals that can injure cells and lead to fatigue. Healthy carbs rev energy without adding too much sugar.

► Goji Berries (1/4 cup): They may help improve blood flow and alertness

► Kale (1 cup): Yep, its superfood status extends to energy. Credit protein, fiber, and crazy levels of antioxidants.

Beyond Kegels: Five Tips for Pelvic Floor Health

By Chris Hayden, CR, Lic. ABT

The pelvic floor is vital for childbirth and in daily life. Having muscles and connective tissue that are resilient and responsive is so useful for getting proper support and mobility throughout the body. But this means muscles that can both contract and relax according to need. Here are some ways to develop your versatility

1) Sit on your sit bones. Also known as your ischial tuberosities, they provide a stable, less tense version of sitting than crunching on your tailbone. You can fin tutorials online, and in-person instruction can teach additional stability.

2) Get into a flat-footed squat (or closer to it). This one can take some time and coaching, but the ability to do a full squat means a pelvic floor that can open as needed. Careful, this one can be dangerous if done improperly or too quickly. I spend lots of time on coaching my tai chi students on it.

3) Don’t hold back. Use the bathroom in a timely manner to decrease chronic pelvic tension.

4) Breath into it. During inhalation, pelvic floor muscles should let out a little and then contract slightly during exhalation. This allows for a more relaxed breath, and a 24-hour exercise program for your floor Most people hold tight here when breathing, so see if you can gently breathe into your abdomen and into the floor, like a ball expanding, as an awareness exercise to get things moving.

5) Walk naturally. If your pelvic bones and sacrum are fairly mobile, every step you take will keep your pelvic floor muscles mobile and active. It can be very hard to become aware of tension patterns in this area, but landing hard on your heels or moving shoulders side to side are two of the signs of strong tension. Movement education or soft tissue and joint mobilization in your legs, pelvis, and back can be very useful.

Boost Your Metabolism

Without Intervals

Never in the mood to do what works best—sprints? Try these still-effective calorie igniters. Add Weight: Whether it’s holding light dumbbells while doing jumping jacks or wearing a weighted vest while walking on the treadmill, the combo will quickly crank up calorie burn. Up Your Incline: Take your walk to a hill and you could torch as many calories as if you were running on a flat surface. ( tighter butt is a bonus.) Cut Out Rests: A superset—two resistance exercises performed back-to-back to create one set—burns roughly 8 to 10 calories per minute, nearly twice the calorie burn of a standard training.

Green Tea

Researchers for years have been linking green tea, and even white tea, to health perks. If you’re drinking tea, choose the type you enjoy the most. Be sure to not overload your tea with sugar or artificial sweeteners or you could be voiding out,or diminishing, the tea’s healthful effects. Instead, sweeten with a tad of local raw honey for an extra antioxidant punch. If you prefer milk in your tea, go for it. Researchers found the flavonoids remain bioavailable with or without milk.

Quark (kwark)

This rising-star fresh cheese from central Europe is similar to Greek yogurt in texture but is milder and less tangy. Like yogurt, quark is packed with good-for-you probiotics and protein, with 17g or more in one 6-ounce cup.  Eat plain, top with fruit, or combine with garlic, herbs, and sea salt for a savory dip.

5 Tips for Stressed-Out Moms

1. Sleep  “Sleep is not a luxury,” says Dr. James O’Brien, medical director of the Boston SleepCare Center in Waltham, Mass. “It’s a necessity for optimal functioning.” As a busy mom, it can be tempting to burn the midnight oil in an attempt to get things done, but cutting into your valuable sleep time will make it even more difficult for you to deal with all of the responsibilities that come with being a modern day mom.

2. Exercise  Unfortunately, for many moms, exercise is often one of the first things to go. Its often viewed as something you do for vanity purposes and when time is spent exercising, moms feel selfish and guilt. But, I’d argue just the opposite. Regular exercise is vital for good health. Exercise isn’t just for weight loss – it helps your mind, body and soul. Experiment with different activities (take a PiYo, Yoga, TRX class, put the baby in a stroller and jog around the neighborhood, swim some laps) to figure out what you enjoy.

3. Clean Up Your Eating  Packaged, processed food might be saving you a little bit of time, but that’s it. Your diet plays a huge role in how you think, act, feel, and respond to situations in your daily life. Give your body the fuel it needs to perform at the optimal level. Eat whole, unprocessed food – closer to its natural state the better. Choose an orange over orange juice, grilled tuna over tuna salad, baked potato over French fries. Think you don’t have time to make healthy food for your family? Make a meal plan for the coming week over the weekend and spend a few hours prepping the meals. And involve your kids in the process – it’s a great way to teach them the importance of healthy eating.

4. Ask for Help  Celebrity moms look rested and calm. Why? Because they have help. Lots of it – nannies, housekeepers, trainers, chefs, personal assistants. This isn’t realistic for most of us, but we can learn from this – having help makes life a lot easier. If you can’t pay for it, ask for it. Are there things your partner can take on? Can you budget for someone to clean your house once a month? Can you call on friends and relatives to help out?

5. Focus on the Things That are Actually in Your Control When you’re overwhelmed and stretched thin, it’s easy to take on every little problem as your own. You can’t clear up the traffic jam, change your bossestendency to give you projects at the last minute, or make a friend arrive on time for lunch. Instead, focus only on things that you have control over.