Are You in the Flow?
Your bile and poo speak the truth.
By Karlene Georgiadis, Author and Biomedical Naturopath
Call me weird, call me eccentric, call me devoted… to your health because I have lots of fascinations and favourite topics.
None are as interesting as poo though – (for those of you who know me well, this fascinating topic would not surprise you… but my second favourite topic at the moment … is bile).
When you know enough about bile, you might learn to love (well maybe a mild like but definitely, respect), bile, too!
When you, your body and health are in a state of flow, then bile and what it does for you makes you feel good. But if something is not flowing, you would be surprised at how bile puts a stop to so many functions of the digestive system and the entire body!!
The first sign that you are not in a flow state is… drum roll…
- Floating poo!!
(Are you surprised? I’m talking poo again!)
When your poo floats, it is because there is too much fat in your stool. It is not necessarily because you’ve eaten too much fat (there is always the occasions where you feel dreadful and your ‘guts churn’ after a fatty meal such as fish and chips! But what floating poo does communicate to you is a problem with bile as well as liver function. One of the first signs something here is out of flow.
So back to the floating poo – this is called Steatorrhea.
The second sign is that you don’t tolerate fats well…
- Intolerance or aversion to fatty foods
So, the fat you eat actually stimulates bile flow – you need to eat fat to get things going – good fats of course. This is why low-fat diets are not actually that good for you, and if you are as old as me (or as young at heart), you would remember how fat became the big bad guy for a while. We were all following the low fat/ no fat fads. I cringe at the thought of what that did to our systems.
So back to bile and fat…
Bile is made in your liver and stored in your gallbladder. The consumption of fat actually stimulates bile to flow, helping you breakdown and absorb fats and your fat soluble vitamins (like vitamins A, D, E & K).
This is such an important part of digestion and fat is an important part of health (heads up your brain is literally 100% fat. Next time someone calls you a ‘fat head,’ say thank you!)
We make bile from cholesterol, so it is our number one tool to keep cholesterol in check. Are you joining the dots here, should I spell it out?
- We need fat to produce bile and
- We make bile from cholesterol.
The body is the most amazing machine of checks and balances.
Third sign that you’re not in the flow, is your cholesterol readings start creeping up.
- High Cholesterol
The plot thickens… here’s another twist.
- High insulin inhibits the production of bile.
And yet another plot twist…
- we need thyroid hormone, specifically T4 for the sphincter release of bile. Also…
- it’s not just overeating that effects bile, it’s low stomach acid too!!
Fourth notification is low Thyroid function and low T4.
- Low Thyroid function
There are numerous flow on effects from all of this…
Bile will directly affect your gut microbiota allowing for gut bacteria overgrowth when bile is insufficient. In addition to your stomach acid, your bile is also an anti-microbial agent, so it is fighting for you.
Have you ever wondered why some people can eat anything and have a cast iron gut and others suffer from all sorts of sensitivities? These guys (your bile and your stomach acid) are your number one defence and they need to be in “flow” to keep you protected – not just from overgrowths, but parasites too.
Think of it this way… here’s a riddle:
- 5 people go camping
- All of them drink the same water
- Only 2 people get sick. Why is this so?
Answer: The 2 who got sick had insufficient stomach acid and bile flow… no cast iron stomach!
So not only is bile so important for protection, it is also of major importance for hormonal regulation and especially oestrogen detoxification and methylation.
Long term bile insufficiency will not only look like floating poo, difficulty with fatty foods, high cholesterol and low thyroid, it will also play out in longer term chronic inflammation and chronic disease, mineral insufficiency, out of whack circadian rhythms (this is your sleep wake cycle) and metabolic syndrome.
So, what can you do if you notice floating poo (or any of the other symptoms)?
If you feel you need to give your bile a nudge, I always advise lemon juice in water as well as olive oil in your diet. This is the perfect vinaigrette for your salad and supports your bile flow.
Here are the top 7 foods to support bile:
- Bitter greens – Dandelion leaves, endive, whitlof
- Olive oil
Here are 3 key spices to stimulate bile:
Finally, as a herbalist I have an enormous armoury of bile stimulating herbs including the amazing choleretics herbs and my favourite would have to be:
Other lifestyle choices to support bile
- Reduce stress
- Avoid over eating
- Ensure sufficient fat intake (talking good fats such as olive oil and avocado, nuts and seeds)
- Ensure sufficient protein intake
So, now I’ve got you thinking about the importance of flow and floaters in more ways than one, but especially your bile flow.
Without further stagnation (because this is the enemy of flow) go squeeze a lemon, chew on a dandelion leaf and check the toilet bowl for floaters before you next flush!
If it’s yellow, you might want to let it mellow, but if it’s brown, check before you flush it down… does it float, is it speaking volumes from the toilet bowl?
In the flow…
Author of Know Your Shit
Biomedical Naturopath and Herbalist.