After eating 100 % raw foods for more than 10 years now, I believe I have a perfectly working digestive system. Here I’m going to tell you about the ideal bowel movement. I am calling it an “ideal” movement since in my research, I found that there is simply no consensus about what is “normal.” There are levels of normal, and every person is going to have different level.
The Digestive Process
Your digestive system breaks down food so it can be absorbed into the bloodstream and delivered to the various parts of your body. A bowel movement, properly considered, actually starts with your first bite. When you swallow your food, it goes down the esophagus and into your stomach. Here your food churns around for two to four hours until it is broken down into a soupy mush called chyme. The chyme is then gradually squeezed out of the stomach and through a long, coiled tube—the small intestine. Here the mashed food that you’ve eaten gets absorbed into the bloodstream and the remainder passes on into the large intestine.
The leftover waste—remnants of the food that your body can’t use—goes on to the large intestine. In the colon, the body gets a last chance to absorb water and some minerals into the blood. ll the leftovers are combined in your colon, packed together, and partially dehydrated. As water leaves the waste product, what’s left gets harder and harder as it keeps moving along, until it becomes a solid. What remains—our feces—consists of water, indigestible fiber, undigested food (such as small seeds), sloughed-off dead cells, living and dead bacteria, intestinal secretions, and bile.
How to Determine if Your Stool is Healthy?
If you eat raw foods, it’s about 24 hours after swallowing your first bite that feces are pushed out of the body. To determine whether your bowel movement is healthy, we look at its color, smell, and the difficulty of evacuation and degree of hardness.
Worn-out red blood cells in bile give human excrement its distinctive brown color. Healthy stool should be medium to light brown. It should be well formed, cylindrical, fairly bulky, somewhat textured and easy to pass. And it shouldn’t smell—much. At the very least, you should find no strong, pungent odor.
The stool is one, long smooth evacuation if the colon is not spastic, impacted, constipated or dehydrated. Each bowel movement should be in one piece, about the shape of a well-formed log, tapered at the end. Some websites say it should be of the size of a banana. From my experience, the product of a good, cleansing bowel movement is much longer, almost as long as two bananas end by end. This makes perfect sense because the stool should be an exact replica of the internal space of your colon.
Ideal Stool Length?
Strive for a soft, smooth snake-like stool between one to two feet long. If you think that is impossibly long, you’re in for a big surprise when you stick to a raw foods lifestyle.
Your stool’s length should conform to the segment lengths of a clean and healthy colon. Each of the colon’s three distinct anatomical segments—ascending, transverse, descending—is about a foot long. Passed stool tends to break at these segment junctures. So your stool should be at least 1 foot long. A person 6 to 7 feet tall might have colon about 6 feet in length. So that tall person’s stool should be about 2 feet, the length of the descending part of the colon.
What, then, if your stool is much shorter? A shorter stool usually indicates the colon is unable to process food properly and that the stool produced lacks the right moisture balance. Your stool’s diameter should be roughly 1 to 1 ½ inches. A smaller diameter indicates constriction, perhaps due to a deformed colon or to accumulated layers of incrusted mucoid matter. A larger diameter indicates poor colon muscle tone—likely from a lack of fiber in the diet.
Float or Sink?
Floaters? Or sinkers? As for “floating versus sinking,” one school argues that stools should float. Some experts say buoyancy is a sign the body has absorbed the minerals in the food and that these nutrients are not contained in the waste. Another camp believes healthy bowel movements should touch bottom because of their bulk and fiber content. Yet a third group believes that buoyancy is not an issue—your poop can sink or swim, so far as they’re concerned.
In my experience, a healthy stool half-floats and half-sinks. Stool that floats high, right on the surface, is usually filled with undigested fat or gas from fermentation. Stool that sinks fully usually includes undigested minerals or is compacted from lack of moisture.
After a stool is formed inside you, you’ll feel the urge to “go.” You should have one bowel movement roughly 24 to 36 hours after every meal, or three a day if you eat three meals. (On a 100 % raw foods regime, you’ll find it’s almost always just about 24 hours.)
When Should you “Go”?
Your first bowel movement should take place in the morning when you wake up or soon after you have had breakfast. Typically, you should experience the urge for a bowel movement 20-30 minutes after you eat. The other bowel movements should be during the day. If you eat two or three meals a day and have one bowel movement, then the second and third meal are backing up in your colon, staying there too long and, over the long haul, inviting disaster from toxicity.
It might be years before you have your ideal bowel movement. Just take my word for it: It is worth striving for. When you begin to eat mostly raw foods and the detox effect kicks in, you might see the most awful things in your stool. (Check on the internet…many colon hydrotherapists’ websites display galleries of coarse pictures of the most awful bowel movements—not for the faint of heart!) If your colon is toxic, you might temporarily see loose, clumpy, mucous-covered stool or even the most weird stuff leaving your body. This should be temporary.
And don’t, as they say, “sweat the small stuff.” It’s time for celebrating! Your colon is cleansing itself, thanks to an ever-improving raw foods diet. These petty annoyances area good sign you’re getting healthier and healthier.