Lots of my clients come in with what they call a spare tyre. Funnily enough, that’s not how I see it. Firstly, I see my clients unhappiness with their bodies as a symptom of our fat-phobic society, where everyone has to look a certain way and where we are conditioned to associate this specific look with our innate desirability. This approach is reinforced by a society whose very infrastructure is designed to remind people who live in bigger bodies that they are outside the mainstream. I hold thin privilege, and getting out of my car in the M&S carpark is an act of will at the best of times, let alone what people in bigger bodies have to think about and deal with on a daily basis! Secondly, the size of one’s body has nothing to do with their health, and it is their inner health, their metabolic health, their joyous living and their fitness that I’m interested in – not their BMI – which is an outdated measurement based on white European men dating back hundred’s of years without update.
When I look at these areas of body my clients show me, I think about the gut, about the gut-brain connection, about their bowel movements, about their diet, about what the quality of their gut bacteria is like, and what all these things say about my client’s health. So, let’s talk about poo. How often you do it, how good it feels (or not), how urgently you experience the sensation of moving your bowels, and what it looks like. Just so you know, ideally speaking, I like my clients to get to the point where they have a non-urgent, physically and emotionally satisfying bowel movement after each meal.
This is an interesting part of my job in as much as I’m used to talking about it, and, initially at least, my clients are very much not used to it! It’s a process of education and connection for my clients, as its not something that is talked about often in life, nor with a Doctor unless there is a direct problem with something in that area. Most of my clients move their bowels every other day, or less. Many go each morning with a sense of urgency. Clinically speaking, this is defined as a normal pattern. But, regularity in that area is hugely important; when you poo, you excrete excess oestrogen. So, in oestrogen-dominant conditions such as Endometriosis for example, going to the loo properly can actually improve your medical condition. If you are someone whose digestion slows down pre-period, we look at your levels of oestrogen and progesterone and think about your how your thyroid hormones are being excreted as a rise in all these hormones can cause constipation. In fact, the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, or HPA, is another mechanism by which the brain can communicate with the gut to help control digestion through the action of hormones. And, it is these hormones we are concerned with when it comes to treating fertility issues. Using the information my clients give me in a consultation can enable me to treat them with Chinese medicine in a far more effective way. Even the shape of the stool is a useful clinical sign for me. For example, if they are like rabbit poos, small and pellet-like, then I know there is a certain amount of Qi Stagnation about. If they are long and thin, then it tells me to look at the Qi of the Spleen.
Here’s something else which is important: 60% of the body’s neurotransmitters are in the gut, and even more importantly, 95% of the Serotonin (happy hormones) in the body are found in the bowl. Knowing this, we start to realise that the gut – or ‘second brain‘ is hugely influential in our mood and consequently in our ability to feel good about ourselves, our lives and our bodies. So many of my clients come in struggling with their emotions around difficulties conceiving, and I can almost immediately help them to lighten their emotional load by talking to them about their eating habits and bowel movements and the connection between the two. There is even some debate arising out of this knowledge which challenges current thinking about eating and body dysmorphic disorders not being purely psychological diseases, but instead diseases of the flora and function of the gut.
In my previous blog, I spoke about the connection between (adipose tissue) and fertility, and about the fact that if clients can lose some inches in the form of shedding adipose tissue, then fertility can be enhanced. But, what if I now asked you to bear in mind my thoughts above about bowel movements and the connection between them, your emotions, your hormones and fertility and told you that the kind of bacteria you have in your gut can either help or hinder you when it comes to losing weight – and consequently regulating your food intake and emotions? So, in fact, it’s not about weight-loss or adipose tissue loss at all, but about what is happening inside your body which affects your fertility.
All this knowledge leads me to talk with my clients about how we can use Traditional Chinese Medicine and food to heal the gut, guiding them to eat delicious food that helps them feel good for longer than just the few seconds it goes in their mouth, and about using the right kind of pro and prebiotics to help put back into their gut what was missing. Making these changes can help them feel good physically, can change their body shape, their state of mind and most importantly, improve their fertility.
Tags: acupuncture, bowel movement, breakfast, chinese herbal medicine, constipation, diet, doula, Doula UK, fat, fertility, food, health, low AMH, Naava Carman, poo, prebiotics, probiotics, recipes, weight loss