Good Gut Feeling: Digestive Health
by Dr. Sarah Brewer
A Nutritionist and Doctor
When your bowels work properly, it is easy to take them for granted. When they play up, however, bowel function – or lack of it – has a major impact on your quality of life, not to mention your holiday.
It's not often I get to write about pooh, but as the British have been described as a Nation of stool gazers, it's fitting that a team of gastroenterologists from Bristol have drawn up a stool classification scale. This defines 7 different types of bowel motion:
- Type 1: Separate hard lumps, like nuts
- Type 2: Sausage shaped but lumpy
- Type 3: Like a sausage or snake but with cracks on the surface
- Type 4: Like a sausage or snake, smooth and soft
- Type 5: Soft blobs with clear cut edges
- Type 6: Fluffy pieces with ragged edges, a mushy stool
- Type 7: Watery, no solid pieces
Types 1 and 2 are abnormally hard (i.e. constipation) and result from a slow bowel transit time. Increase your intake of fluid, fibre and take a probiotic source. Interestingly, this type seems to be linked with an increased risk of gallstones.
Types 3 and 4 are described as perfectly normal bowel motions, and are the ideal companions for your holiday.
Type 5 is poorly formed, soft and verging on abnormal.
Types 6 and 7 are abnormally loose (ie diarrhoea) and affect up to half of those holidaying in tropical regions, and one in ten visiting European resorts.
Follow the travel hygiene tips in my last article (How to stay healthy on holiday) and consider taking a diarrhoea treatment with you, just in case. Rehydration sachets/tablets and loperamide capsules are available from pharmacies and on prescription.