“There is nothing so overrated as orgasm and as underrated as excrement.” I’ve heard this quote attributed to Benjamin Franklin but now I can’t seem to find a source. So what is it doing here? It began innocently. I asked my youngest son what I ought to blog about this week and with 8 year old humor he answered, “Poop.” Don’t worry, there’s no photo of the product.

An Underrated Experience

Although this started out funny, it is widely acknowledged that one of the reasons that colon cancer and other diseases are often only caught in the later stages is that we don’t like to talk about our poop. And doesn’t that seem odd when we spend so much time talking about the food that we are putting into our bodies? It makes sense that we discuss what comes out the other end. After the loss of her husband who was 42 years old, Katie Couric declared, “Don’t be fool, talk about your stool.” Then she bravely endured a colonoscopy on national television. Researchers at the University of Michigan have dubbed the 20 % increase in colonoscopies performed the following years, “the Couric effect”.

When detected early, colon cancer victims have a 90% survivor rate but let’s focus on avoiding that diagnosis all together. One answer is fiber. Studies vary but suffice it to say that the average citizen in most developed countries doesn’t have adequate fiber intake. The recommended amounts differ depending upon age and sex and which source you’re reading but 25 – 30 grams wouldn’t hurt any of us. In fact, some studies show that upping the fiber intake is actually a more effective weight loss strategy than eating a low fat diet. Making high fiber foods a consistent part of our diets can help reduce risk of constipation, hemorrhoids, high cholesterol, high blood sugar, obesity, colon cancer, diabetes and heart disease. That’s plenty!

Among the virtues of fruits and vegetables are their high fiber content. This extends to grains and most importantly to legumes. (Don’t worry. My sons guarantee another post around the virtue of beans.) Legumes are easy to cook ahead of time. They freeze well and they’re easy to incorporate into daily meals. While eating the right things is a great strategy, I don’t want to lose focus on the true intent of this post. When your loved ones emerge from the loo, the WC, the bathroom or whatever you name your relief station, ask them how it went. It’s a topic that may save a life.

How can you incorporate more fiber into your diet and who will you tell about it?

Mexican Medley
Adapted from The Vegetarian Handbook by Gary Null
Serves four
  • 6 oz asparagus cut in 1/2 inch pieces
  • 6 oz cauliflower cut in bite-size pieces
  • 6 oz celery chopped
  • 6 oz cooked kidney beans
  • 3 oz filberts chopped fine (hazelnuts)
  • 4 Tbs sunflower oil
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp chopped fresh dill
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp basil
  • 1/2 tsp celery seed
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
Steam asparagus and cauliflower for 10 minutes. Combine with celery and set aside. In a blender or food processor, place the beans, filberts and all remaining ingredients. Puree until smooth. Use hot water to thin the sauce if necessary. Pour sauce over the asparagus mixture. Serve at room temperature.  Enjoy it twice!
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  1. My grandpa had his bowels removed because of colon cancer (he’s still growing strong), and a close friend of my mum’s in her 50s died less than a year after being diagnosed with the same cancer. Thank you for reminding people about the seriousness of this, and encouraging me to open up a can of chickpeas and snack on them. (Yes, that really is what I’m about to do.)

  2. Good post! When I started a couple of years ago to change the way I eat – I ended up losing a lot of weight, but the main focus was and still is to change my lifestyle and the way I approach food. The two major changes I incorporated into my daily life were: Lots of fiber, and lots of water! I try to average 40 grams pf fiber a day. Initially, with water drinking, I tried to drink an ounce of water for every pound I weighed. At the beginning that was hard – as I lost weight, it got easier! (In more ways than one! :-D) I still drink a lot of water, but I don’t measure; however, I count fiber grams all the time, and when there is a choice in a particular food brand or type, I always opt for more fiber. Makes decisions a lot easier. 😀

  3. When I saw the title, I thought, “Ah, Tammy’s going to talk about worm poop and composting.”


    Eating more fiber is definitely key to good colon health.

    I looked for the source of the quote for you. No luck ~ but found lots of “interesting” articles on sex and bowel movements.

  4. Sally Mom

     /  February 10, 2011

    I absolutely agree with water! Probably the most important thing we can do for our bodies and next, benificial fiber.
    Get rid of sugar and bad fats, eat more vegetables, and fruit in moderation, and complex carbs. We are what we eat.
    Complextions and skin, body mechanics, help this machine, our body, run smooth and efficiently.
    Great subject and so on target with health

  5. This may seem like an odd topic at first, but thanks for reminding us to be more aware of things… it may save a life!

    I remember the doctors asking me right before surgery a couple of years ago what color my poop was – I had absolutely no idea. Luckily that wasn’t the problem, but it did raise my awareness afterwards.

    So many of your recipes are on my ‘yet to have tried’ list, but I’ll get back to you after I give this recipe a try also (will leave out the celery though…) 😉

  6. Nicely done, Tammy, but, seriously what did you expect when you asked an 8-year-old boy for a blog topic?

  7. Excellent post. And the Ben Franklin quote made me laugh out loud!!

    One thing that you also didn’t mention is that there are toxins in conventionally raised foods. Pesticide residues, hormones, antibiotics and a whole host of other toxic preservatives in small quantities that our beloved FDA considers as GRAS…. While it is good to avoid all these items completely, most people don’t or can’t because of a lack of access to whole unprocessed or organic food sources. But fiber helps because if you can move your food through your body in 12 hours as is recommended, there is a greatly reduced risk that any of these toxins are absorbed. I believe that the non-food chemicals and preservatives in our food are making us very sick with cancer specifically. So not consuming these chemicals, or moving them out fast enough to avoid exposure will certainly help lower your risk!

    Poop is awesome. I have been wanting to write a poop post on my blog, but just like you, I was nervous about the gross out factor. Great job!

  8. Hate to say it, but poop gets discussed often in our house! Just spoke about it with my doc on Monday (annual physical) and I am regular as the day is long. Woohoo!

    A few years back, we made a conscious decision to make sure we buy foods that have decent amounts of fiber in them. Seems to be working so far!

  9. Delicious, Tammy. (The recipe, I mean) You’ve given me a resolution to up the fibre in my house….

    • I actually made it again tonight and although I wish the sauce had a more appealing color, the kids eat right through it. Let me know if you try it.

  10. Your son seems to right on target! We drove through South Miami last week and saw dozens of banners for the new exhibit at the local zoo – “Poop.” The actual topic was different from yours, I expect, but it sure does get some attention.

  11. Oh Tammy, you did make me smile 😀

  12. Great title, and important message! It reminded me of the praises sung to its diagnostic significance in the Scrubs musical piece, “Everything comes down to poo” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-OIgXyvzUU

  13. This is my food style, Tammy. I dived into a study of the Alkaline life style for a few reasons about three years ago.

    Amazingly, it meant I was eating foods I love – primarily veggies, grains, seeds, and fruit.

    The benefits are as you cited.

    My oldest sister was laden with polyps so my Dr. sent me off for a colonoscopy. Not a polyp to be found.

    On a humorous note, my friend of Dutch descent has taught me that her culture not only promotes talking about stools, they have now manufactured toilets that allow a good study prior to flushing. We laugh about it, but with respect.

    • If you get a chance, watch the video that herbanlifestyle posted. My kids and I just did and I’m still crying with laughter.

      PS – will email you to learn more about alkaline.

  14. Fabulous and relevant! Goes right along with all the things I am learning about nutrition. Sharing with my classmates.:-)

  15. Does it count if it’s green beans? Or what about baked beans? I try but I really can’t stand just plain old dried beans! Taste like dirt! Either way, great post and I’ll be sure to add in some high fiber veggies in my garden this year!

  16. I have to tell you that I loved reading this post. Even though it was about poo. I usually get my fill of poo with my puppies and kitten. This is much better. 🙂

  17. LMAO!! I have NEVER heard that quote before…it is genius!
    Very good post- love your blog!

  18. Wow. Tammy, you just did something that was genius. You wrote a post about poop that was well-written, eye-opening, and incredibly helpful. Thank you.

  19. lol- that’s way too good!! It took me a while to get past the first 2 paragraphs and the photo (laughing too hard), but its a good message. Perhaps one of the more circuitous routes I’ve seen to the colon cancer discussion but what the heck- it’s getting awareness and that’s what matters. BTW- my wife has two pics of my boys when they were that young in a similar pose, but i think there would be hell to pay if those ever got out. Your little guy must like the attention. Anyway nice job. I’ve been sharing your blog with my wife and she’s already got a few of your recipes she wants to try out- and neither of us are real health nuts- so i think thats a compliment. Cheers, and keep up the good writing.

    • Yes, he was a very good sport letting me take that photo. Thanks for reading Bob. We’re actually going to see Katie Couric tonight at a benefit. I appreciate you sharing my blog.

      • bob champagne

         /  February 13, 2011

        np- we really like the blog. I’m working to make mine a little more light hearted, but its hard to keep the business stuff and personal stuff working together. I may end up creating 2 blogs. btw- i just posted a draft on my blog re:valentines day. its a little more of a fun blog post, but i think you’ll like it. Have a good one.

  20. Tammy, this was a great blog! Thank you for posting it. We need to talk about our poop. Both my mother and grandma had colon cancer–although both lived through it. I had to have my first colonoscopy in my 40’s and probably should have another one. Happy to have visited your blog today.

  21. you could have lifted this chart from my blog for your post


  22. Naomi

     /  February 18, 2011

    Well said, Tammy – and love that pic 😀

  23. Love those freckles and expression 😉 A great blog, Tammy. If we eat five portions of fruits/veges a day, as advised, we should be alright. And it is quite easy to eat one or two fruits in the morning, a salad or veges at lunchtime, another fruit in the afternoon and more veges at supper. we should have enough fibers for the day. Thanks for reminding us of this !

    • Yes, it’s not hard to do when you lay it out in simple terms. Personally, I try to get them in at breakfast so that I am set for the day.

  24. Tammy, I don’t need to tell you what a great topic this is and I love visiting your site and never knowing what I am going to learn are be reminded to consider. I agree with the person who mentioned in addition to fiber its getting the gunk out of our bodies that could be causing us harm. I know when I do not make or am unable to make good eating decisions I am not as regular as I like, its almost as if the bad stuff wants to stick around longer. It just reinforces for me the need to make healthy choices. When I eat right, I feel like the whole system is in sync and working as it should.

  25. Tammy- my beagle ate a whole tennis ball today. I am now going to take him for a walk to finish expelling it…and to the vet tomorrow to ensure everything is ok (I suspect he’s fine). But I must admit that the first place I felt compelled to report this event was on the “poop blog”. You’ve really started something here- LOL

    If he is in fact ok, I think the medical community may want to explore beagle research in their quest for optimal colon health. It appears they can consume anything (shoes, tennis balls, metal…) without any digestive problem whatsoever!

  26. Tammy, I love the way you blend knowledge and humor. Im thoroughly enjoying your posts as well as learning so much. Next time I want to come to the agrigirls blog, I know whom to follow: the ants from the “Ant Farm”. Loving your blog.

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