Mucous in the Stool

Why is there mucous in your poop?

Have you ever looked (we all look, it’s normal) at your poop and thought – what IS that? If there’s a jellylike substance (it looks like snot in the toilet bowl) in the stool, it could be an indication that there’s an infection in the bowel.

There are levels of intensity when we’re addressing mucous in the stool:

Mild: Small amount, occasional mucous. This indicates a mild overgrowth of non-pathogenic (meaning not disease-causing), non-commensal (meaning not the good bacteria) bacteria or yeast in the bowel. This is typically seen in patients with bloating, irregular bowel movements and other IBS symptoms. I address this using antimicrobial herbs and supplements for a short time frame, plus a well-balanced probiotic.

Moderate: Moderate amount, frequent mucous. This indicates a more aggressive overgrowth of non-pathogenic, non-commensal bacteria or yeast in the small or large bowel. This is seen in patients with more severe IBS and sometimes in SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth) and may require lab testing prior to deciding on the appropriate treatment approach.

Severe: Large amounts with severe diarrhea. This indicates a pathogenic (disease-causing) infection. This is seen in patients with a harmful infection, often traveller’s diarrhea or a parasitic infection. If you are experiencing this type of symptoms, please see your MD, ask for a stool sample, and you may need antibiotics (yes, I do support antibiotics when necessary). Follow up with your Naturopathic Doctor to replenish the gut flora with good bacteria, help with gut healing, and determine the best nutrition protocol during and after treatment.

Red flag: If there is bloody mucous in the stool, we’ll send you for fecal calprotectin testing and/or a colonoscopy, as blood is a risk factor for more serious conditions like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

Other causes: If infection isn’t the cause, it could be another underlying condition such as Celiac disease or a liver or gall bladder issue causing a malabsorption of fats (often mistaken for mucous). A full assessment of the rest of your bowel habits helps us to narrow this down so that we can send you for appropriate lab testing.

We can learn a lot from asking about bowel habits! Asking about mucous in the stool is only one of my 10 questions that I ask every patient about their bowel health.

Here’s the full list:

  • Is there mucous in your stool?
  • Is there blood in your stool?
  • Is there undigested food (other than corn) in your stool?
  • How many bowel movements to you have per day?
  • Do you feel fully evacuated?
  • Shape: Is the stool well formed / pelleted / liquid etc. ? *Bristol stool chart helps!
  • Do you experience urgency?
  • Do you have abdominal pain, or pain on passing a bowel movement?
  • Do you feel gassy?
  • Do you experience bloating?

Book your appointment to address your digestive symptoms, because a happy gut is the foundation of a healthy body.

Stress & Digestion

Why does stress affect digestion?

We all know the feeling of having butterflies in our stomach or feeling nauseous when we’re worried, but why does that happen?

When we’re feeling stressed, anxious, overwhelmed or upset, our bodies are in a sympathetic nervous system state. This is more commonly known as “fight or flight”.

During stressful situations, we release a cocktail of hormones that instructs the body to reroute blood flow from “unnecessary” to “critical to survival” areas of the body. This includes taking blood flow away from digestive organs and sending it to the heart, lungs, and large muscles. From a survival perspective, this makes sense: let’s focus on running from a lion now and we can deal with digestion later.

The problem is that if we’re feeling stressed for a prolonged period of time, our digestion suffers long term consequences:

  • Stomach: Lack of production of digestive enzymes and stomach acid leads to nausea, heartburn or indigestion.
  • Small intestine: If we don’t break down foods well in the stomach AND we have a lack of blood flow to the intestinal tract, we poorly absorb nutrients. This leads to fatigue and other symptoms of nutrient deficiency like brittle hair and nails, headaches, and muscle tension.
  • Large intestine: Poorly broken-down foods become hyper fermented by our gut flora. This leads to bloating and leaky gut.
  • Motility: The normal action of moving food through the digestive tract in a healthy time frame with proper bowel movements is affected. This can cause diarrhea in some people and constipation in others.

Long term stress has other impacts on how our digestion moves, too. It can slow our metabolic rate (causing constipation) through slowing thyroid function. Stress also alters our gut microbiome, impacting our immune system, mood, and appetite. Suffice it to say that stress has a huge impact on our digestion as the foundation of overall health!

So, what do we do?

  1. The opposite of “fight or flight” is “rest and digest”. The key is that you can’t be in both nervous system states at the same time. When you’re feeling stressed, worried, or if you notice that your digestion has been off lately, try taking a few moments before you eat to take five slow, controlled, deep breaths. This pulls you out of fight or flight and moves you into rest and digest.
  2. Focus on your meals. Avoid screens, phones, and other distractions while eating. Sit down and enjoy your food! Eating with others is helpful for the digestive process because keep us relaxed and focused on the meal.
  3. Engage in restorative and restful activities throughout the day. Remember that digestion isn’t just happening while we’re eating, it’s a continual process.
  4. Don’t work out too much. Intense workouts put our bodies back into fight or flight. Make sure your workouts are challenging but not exhausting. A good rule is that if you’re sore two days after a workout, you’ve pushed too far.
  5. Get a good sleep. Sleep inhibits our stress hormones. When we’re more tired, we feel more anxious and irritable, and this is because our stress hormones weren’t sufficiently lowered during sleep. Click here for more tips on sleep.
  6. Seek out support for coping with stress and anxiety. Dr. Chambers may use herbs and/or supplements, adjust your nutrition, improve your sleep and provide stress coping tools to help reduce stress.
  7. Uncover what else may be sabotaging your digestion. Food intolerances, IBS, thyroid issues, candida overgrowth and SIBO are all conditions impact our digestion and are made worse with stress.

Book an appointment to address the underlying cause of your digestive concerns, learn to cope with stress, and get you on the path to great digestion even in the face of stressful circumstances.