To inject a little light-heartedness into the current world pandemic, I aim to provide you with some pragmatic advice to spare the squares in the impending self-isolation period.
Yes, I am talking about the little square pieces of paper gold that the world has currently lost it's, pardon the pun, SHIT over!
Having relieved my bowel this morning, I sat reflecting on the question I posed to my wonderful women at my weekend retreat;
“How many squares are you using when you poo?”
The response from the 11 other women in that room reiterated my passionate message about holistic health. Not only are our dietary habits but lifestyle choices, movement and how we deal with stress/anxiety levels important for our holistic health but directly affect the formation and frequency of our bowel movements.
Think about it… You’re stress and anxious about the current world situation, you try to buy toilet paper but the hoarders you mocked weeks before now hold the power of the squares. There is little or no pasta, rice or meat in the supermarkets and everyone you encounter has lost their ability to self-regulate or even smile.
When we experience stress or anxiousness our nervous system operates from the flight/fight response mode of the sympathetic nervous system, this means that rest/digest (parasympathetic nervous system) stops and our bodies no longer digest food properly and prepare for evacuation.
Many people report that they experience loose stools when anxious, experience stress or fear. Cue current world pandemic. NOW your ideal poo, normally formed like a smooth sausage, is soft often diarrhea and frequent.
What does all this mean? You use more squares!!
This response becomes like a watercourse when we experience little stressors, little scares our body’s response is so swift to deliver the hit of adrenaline and cortisol, that flows on the ready-made neural pathway.
The ideal poo is smooth, one-piece and exits the body in a very clean, minimal wiping manner. A balanced diet with high fibrous foods will help to achieve your perfect 4 in addition to movement and stress/anxiety management with a balanced lifestyle approach.
UP YOUR FIBRE INTAKE WHY? HOW?
When we eat sufficient fibre, our stools are well-formed and bulky which assist in the sweeping clean of our internal passage. A bulky poo also stimulates our Vagus nerve that stems from the gut to our brain and sends the message that we have passed a substantial poo. We feel lighter, happier and experience better well-being when we frequently poo and it is a sign of a healthy microbiome (the gut bugs that regulate your hormones). If you are eating a diverse range of Nutrients and sufficient fibre, a daily visit with minimal wiping is the likely outcome.
The current recommendation for fibre is 30g per day and this is modest. Increasing this with more plant-based foods will see better results. Most Australians only get approx. 20g which can be postulated with the increasing number of mental health diseases so prevalent in today’s society.
Nutrition Australia suggests ways to encorporate more fibre in your diet:
· Eat a diverse range of food; nut, seeds, rice, legumes, fruit and vegetables
· Choose wholegrain not white
· Eat grain/legume-based salads
· Eat a handful of nuts and seeds as snacks or add to yoghurt
· Ensure you are eating RDI of 2 fruit 5 Vegetable
· Slowly introduce more fibre and ensure adequate water intake
So toilet paper hoarders flocking to isles to stock up on 2-minute noodles, baked beans, and kilos of meat are more than likely going to need extra squares to combat the ill gut health and loose formed stools that arise from poor diet choices.
DIET & LIFESTYLE
With social distancing measures in place, the knee jerk response may be to stay at home and isolate yourself from the outside world. There is so much information and traffic on social media and websites and this in itself can create a lot of unnecessary stress/anxiety.
Disconnect from technology and reconnect with the healing power that nature provides.
Taking a walk outdoors, in heavily accented green spaces has been shown to reduce anxiety, stressor and promote positive well-being. Nature provides a different perspective. The expansiveness, openness of outdoor spaces not only provide fresh air, psychologically we experience the freedom that alleviates the restricting feelings of anxiety and stress.
Walking through the green tree-lined trails, we breathe in the chemicals (phytoncides) that the trees release to protect themselves from bacteria, fungus, and toxins. Nature spaces such as forests and by the ocean or beach provide the freshest of air due to these chemicals in addition to negative ions.
Negative ions are abundant in these natural spaces, by waterfalls, large bodies of water such as ocean or lakes and in heavily treed areas as forests.
These act as an air purifier as they clear the air of airborne pollutants; pollen, mold, bacteria, and viruses. Negative ions when inhaled and reach our bloodstream, increase energy levels, and said to increase good mood hormone- serotonin, serving to alleviate feelings of depression, anxiety, and stress.
In nature, we utilize our depth of perception. We shift our focus from the steps in front of us to the tree canopy and into the distance. This autonomous act of shifting our focal depth of vision is intrinsically linked to our nervous system. Our primitive part of our brain allows us to scan the environment, gaining perspective and escape route if required. If we are always staring at our screens or phones, our vision is muted.
Hiking and remaining an active lifestyle boosts metabolism, in turn, promotes healthy bowel movements. In conjunction with a healthy diet, movement and spending time in nature will help spare the squares.
Whilst there are restrictions in place, stepping outside into the back yard or a local trail, spending time in nature will provide some reprieve from the escalating situation.
Tuning into our senses promotes mindfulness. Present time awareness. Tune into where and how you are feeling angst or unease. Slow down. Pause. Disconnect.
Let Nature be thy healer.