Poo therapy: it's not sitting on the toilet uninterrupted with tinkling music and fresh scents emanating from your Glade plug-in.
Rather, it refers to a radical new treatment that looks at balancing your digestive system, which in turn affects your immune system and your appearance.
It's not new some new fad from Japan either. The Telegraph ran a recent feature on the concept of giving patients 'poop pills', adding credence to a story that ran last October, revealing the results of an experiment run by researchers at the University of Calgary in Alberta.
The study took a group of 27 people who had serious gut infections which were not responding to antibiotics. The researchers then gave them pills with extracts from the poo of healthy people, and after a while, all 27 people were cured of their infection.
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BEST: Fruits And Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are great for digestion because most are high in fiber, King says. Bechtold adds that the fiber in produce has an added benefit of regulating bowel movements.
BEST: Whole Grains
Whole grain foods, including brown rice and wheat, also contain lots of fiber, making them another top food group good for digestion, King says. (Obviously this advice may not apply for people with chronic conditions like celiac disease or other gluten sensitivities, since wheat contains gluten.)
While all fruits and vegetables are generally good for digestion, bananas in particular are great because they don't irritate the stomach. That's why they're part of the "BRAT Diet" for vomiting or diarrhea -- that is, the bananas, rice, applesauce and dry toast diet. "Those are the four things that tend to be the easiest tolerated amongst people and they tend to be bland, so they won't irritate the stomach like other foods," King says. They are also good for replacing the body's electrolytes, she adds.
"Water is excellent for digestion, and that's one thing I think people don't drink enough of," King says. Water helps the digestive process because it helps move things through the intestines.
Spices and herbs like ginger, turmeric and peppermint are great for settling an upset stomach, King says. Try drinking ginger or peppermint tea, or sucking on a peppermint lozenge.
BEST: Probiotic-Containing Foods Like Yogurt
Probiotics are good for the digestive system because they contain good bacteria that crowds out any bad bacteria that you may have in your gut, King says. You want to look specifically for foods that contain <em>live</em> bacteria, such as yogurt and kefir.
BEST: Prebiotic-Containing Foods Like Asparagus And Oats
Prebiotic foods contain a type of fiber the <em>probiotics</em> feed off of to multiply, "so it’s good food for your good bacteria," King says. Prebiotics are found in foods such as asparagus, onions, lentils and whole grains.
WORST: Spicy Foods
Spicy foods can be bad for digestion because they may trigger acid reflux symptoms for some people, King notes.
Similarly to spicy foods, those containing caffeine can also trigger acid reflux, as it relaxes the esophageal sphincter -- the flap that keeps what you've eaten down in your stomach -- causing food to come back up into the esophagus, King says. What about coffee, which is high in caffeine yet always seems to help us "go?" King says coffee is powerful for triggering peristalsis -- the term for movement of food through the intestines -- it does contain caffeine, which means it can still cause reflux. But it could help someone who is struggling with constipation, she notes.
WORST: Acidic Foods Like Soda
Like spicy and caffeinated foods, acidic picks like soda can also trigger reflux, King says.
WORST: Foods High In Saturated Fat
Fatty foods can induce heartburn and diarrhea due to poor absorption of fat, Bechtold says. King adds that you can tell if your diet contains too many high-fat foods because your stool will float to the top of the toilet. This is a sign that you might want to cut back on the saturated fat.
Alcohol also relaxes the esophageal sphincter, which can then trigger acid reflux, King says. Bechtold adds that it can induce inflammation in the stomach.
Dairy can induce bloating, Bechtold says, as well as abdominal discomfort, particularly for people who are lactose intolerant.
How to Understand Basic Digestion
In this health video you will learn how to understand basic digestion.
Now, The Telegraph reports, a Boston-based company Seres Health is now developing the pills.
Anjana Ahuja writes: “The pill, which entered clinical trials last month, is the first of a new class of drugs nicknamed “ecobiotics”, which aim to treat disease by manipulating the balance of so-called good and bad bacteria so that the beneficial microbes always have the upper hand.
"The poo pill is a particularly eye-catching development in the wave of excitement about the human microbiome, the term given to the collection of trillions of microbes – a cocktail of bacteria, viruses and fungi – that teem inside and on the surface of the human body. Researchers across the world are uncovering intriguing evidence that bacteria and other microbes may be implicated in serious conditions ranging from digestive problems, such as Crohn’s disease and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), to obesity, diabetes, asthma and even mental health."
The study in Canada was conducted by Dr. Thomas Louie, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Calgary looking specifically at Clostridium difficile, or C-diff infections, which healthy people can fend off, but people on antibiotics or who have other conditions cannot. It's often the bane of hospitals.
While the condition can be cured by a fecal transplant, these are often unpleasant and carry complications.
HuffPost Canada reported last year: "Dr. Curtis Donskey of the Cleveland Veterans Affairs Medical Center, who has done fecal transplants through colonoscopies, praised the work. "The approach that Dr. Louie has is completely novel — no one else has done this," he said. "I am optimistic that this type of preparation will make these procedures much easier for patients and for physicians."
"The treatment now must be made fresh for each patient so the pills don't start to dissolve at room temperature, because their water content would break down the gel coating. Minnesota doctors are testing freezing stool, which doesn't kill the bacteria, so it could be stored and shipped anywhere a patient needed it."
The question will be whether the NHS can afford it, and as The Telegraph conjectures, there is already an existing treatment.
Still, it does call into question our society's love of detox, when a pill to restore the complicated balance of our digestive systems with good and bad bacteria, has more benefits than a cleanse.