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A few years ago, a very nice woman named Lucy came to see me about some symptoms she was having. From the beginning she was convinced she had a parasite, and her story is in many ways, representative of the trials and tribulations of figuring out whether that may indeed be the case. Lucy had seen a number of gastroenterologists before me, and reading between the lines of their notes in her medical records, I could see they thought she was a little bit intense. She was a little bit intense, and rightly so. I would have been, too, if my life had been turned upside down by symptoms that no one could explain and that weren’t getting any better. In addition to bloating, she was also having fatigue, upper abdominal pain, nausea, and what she described as “weird” stools. The first gastroenterologist Lucy saw did an upper endoscopy, thinking…

Did you know there’s a right and a wrong way to sit on the toilet? Most people don’t realize that their position when having a bowel movement is key to solving lots of GI complaints like bloating, gas, and constipation. The right position can also help improve more serious GI conditions such as diverticulosis, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Squatting is the most natural stance for giving birth and, it turns out, for having a bowel movement. A squatting position helps to straighten the anorectal angle and keeps the knees pressed up against the abdomen, increasing intra-abdominal pressure, which helps to push the stool out. Over a billion people throughout the world don’t have access to toilets and squat over a hole instead. Interestingly, people in countries where squatting is the norm have much less constipation and colon cancer, probably because their diets, like their…

Watch Dr. Chutkan as she explains the importance of turning around and taking a look! Exploring the connection between what you put in your body and what comes out the other end should be an open conversation, not a dirty little secret. Hard to pass pebbles may be a sign that you need to up your veggie intake; stuck stools may simply need a little more water to help lubricate their passage; and loose stools accompanied by gas might mean your milk drinking days are over. A bounteous, satisfying stool the day after eating a high fiber meal is your body giving you a high five for doing something right. Making these connections between how you’re living and how you’re feeling is a crucial part of being healthy – and turning around to take a look at what’s in the toilet bowl can add valuable information. So how do you figure…