Warning this post is about poop.
I am writing about transit time because I had an unpleasant discovery. I was reading Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo which my boyfriend gave me for my birthday. He knew that I was interested in the Paleo diet and it was a very thoughtful gift. It’s more than a recipe book its got a great deal of information about digestion and yup you guessed it, poop.
There was quite a bit that I had not read before. One thing is that food should not spend more than 18-24 hours in transit time. That its from mouth to anus. I had heard about this but what I had not realized is there is a way to measure transit time. Sesame seeds are indigestible and if you eat enough of them they show up in your stool. A very simple test you can do at home is eat two tablespoons of seeds make note of the time that you ate them, and then note when they come out in your poop. Its supposed to be very obvious. I have since done some more reading and there are some other ways. Chlorophyll, beets, corn, and charcoal all show up well in the stool and allow a person to identify how long food has sat around inside you. These are cheep at home methods of assessing your transit time.
Considering that I have the oil intolerance and that my digestion has been really messed up for years I really wondered how my pour digestive system was doing. When I was a child I spent hours on the toilet with diarrhea but as an adult I run towards constipation. Even so I am sure to have an elimination once a day.
I was feeling a bit adventurous so I tried the sesame seed test. I noted the time I ate the seeds and made a point to check on my bowl movements. I didn’t eat two tablespoons, I managed a teaspoon. Perhaps the seeds messed up my bowls because I didn’t poop for three days and only saw seeds after five days. I never saw a large group either. Not the best test overall. Apparently five days is normal for an American. But I thought I would be doing a lot better since I went off the oils.
There are lots of things a person can do to improve transit times. Many of which I’m already doing.
The big one is eliminate refined and processed foods. I think they mean commercially processed foods. Not home processed food. Commercial foods have very little fiber, minerals, and nutrients in them so they create wear and tear on your digestive tract but have little to no food value. Since I make all my own food at home and buy few ready made foods. I think I’m good on this score.
They also recommend eating lots of ‘good’ fats and avoiding the ‘bad’ fats. As I have the oil allergy refined and or processed fats disagree so I don’t eat them. Also I eat a lot of fat usually.
They also recommend not eating grains especially gluten. I have been 100% gluten free for over six weeks and mostly gluten free for at least three months before that. I’m not sure if I’m willing to give up all grains, though I will keep up the gluten free for sure.
Its also recommended to keep your carb intake low. I do try to stay under 100 grams a day. I’m fairly good about this.
Another recommendation is to avoid ‘bad’ carbs. Bad carbs are refined and take just as much energy to digest but give no vitamins and minerals to help the body utilize them. Good carbs are whole and unprocessed fruits and tubers. I need to do better on this one. I like sugar and when I eat carbs I tend towards ice cream, chocolate or potatoes, rather than fruit or or more nutritious veggies. But I’ve started eating more sweet potatoes and I like them. There are many other yummy tubers that I can try. I think this one wont be too hard to implement.
I read that it helps to increase dietary fiber. They mean from vegetables. I have started eating more vegetables and fruits. But it will be tough to change a lifetime of avoiding vegetables. Still its easier than the next one.
To eat fermented foods. I haven’t really enjoyed many of the fermented foods that I’ve tried. That makes it hard. I do like cheese but apparently its not as good as many of the other foods out there. I have started drinking fermented pro biotic lemonade. Recipe found here . I am going to keep my ear to the ground for more recipes and fermented foods that I can try and stick with store bought probiotics.
There are some more tricks to help, like increasing magnesium intake and taking bitters like dandelion before eating, but for now I’m going to try and work with on the cabs, probiotics, and veggies to see if that’s enough to move things through. Then I’ll try another transit test, preferably with something that might not be the cause of an intestinal back up. Apparently seeds can irritate the digestion and cause problems so I’ll go with charcoal next time and see how that functions.