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Understanding IBS and IBD

Listen to Your Gut — Advice from Andy the RD

Andy the RD feeling emotional about kale
Andy the RD feeling emotional about kale
Andy De Santis

Andy De Santis

Registered Dietitian

Andy De Santis is a blogger, author, and registered dietitian (RD) who has operated a private practice in the Yonge and Davisville area for the past five years. He holds a master’s degree in public health from the University of Toronto and has published three books to date, with more on the way. He brings a great deal of charisma to the world of nutrition — matched only by his sense of humour, which can be found on full display on his Instagram page. The only other thing you need to know about him? He eats raw kale daily, and genuinely loves it. Mediaplanet reached out for his advice on listening to your gut — read the interview below!


What does an ideal bowel movement look like?

If I had to describe the “ideal” bowel movement, it would be one that arrives without urgency and that passes easily, completely, and without pain.

In terms of what it would actually look like, the Bristol Stool Chart categorizes seven different stool types — ranging from type 1, separated hard lumps, like nuts; to type 7, watery with no solid pieces. Bowel movements on the lower end (constipation) or higher end (diarrhea) are generally not considered to be indicative of ideal bowel function and could be due to a number of factors including IBS, IBD, poor diet or hydration status, medications, and so on.

When talking frequency of bowel movements, how often is too often?

There’s obviously a number of factors that go into determining how often someone goes to the washroom, but the data that I’ve seen suggests a couple of things:

  1. Even though going once a day is the most common pattern, it doesn’t necessarily represent everyone’s patterns.
  2. Nearly all people have bowel movements between three times per day and three times per week.

I think that if you fall outside of those ranges (you go more than three times per day, or less than three times per week, or are constantly at either fringe), it may be something worth exploring further.

What are the biggest misconceptions you hear about IBD and IBS?

That it’s just about food — there is no getting away from the fact that one’s dietary selections play a massive role in overall gut health and symptoms. But food is not the only thing that matters.

Stress, for example, can negatively impact the helpful probiotic bacteria populations in your gut. Other relaxation practices, such as hypnotherapy, yoga, and meditation, may also have a non-food role to play in IBS management. 

Gluten isn’t automatically public enemy number one. Unless you have an immune response to gluten, as in celiac disease, eliminating it from your diet isn’t necessarily the gold standard first step to improve your digestive health.

A professional can help you determine whether modifying your intake of gluten (or other relevant foods) is in your best interests. 

If a reader suspects something may be off with their gut health, what do you recommend as a next step?

Keep in mind that every gut is unique and digestive health is complex, so if you haven’t won that battle on your own, make sure to seek assistance from a professional who works in that area of practice. 

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