How Healthy is Your Poop?
Poop, also known as stool or feces, is a standard part of the digestive process. Poop consists of waste products that the body eliminates.
If you ever wondered why your poop looks different sometimes, there are many processes that happen in your body that determine the color, shape, and consistency of your poop. For this reason, your poop can be one of the best indicators of what is going on in your body and can give you some insight into how healthy you and your digestive system are.
If you have any concerns about your digestive health, you should always consult a professional, who will be able to give you more accurate information and solutions to your problem.
What is a normal poop?
Normal is difficult to define, but there are certain characteristics that can define a poop as ‘normal’. You will know if your poop is not normal, but here are some common characteristics of a healthy poop:
- Brown (not too dark nor too light in color)
- Strong smelling (Strong smelling but not rancid, or extremely foul smelling)
- Easy to pass (You should not have to strain or pass more than 30 minutes on the toilet)
- A soft but firm texture (Should not hurt to pass or be the consistency of liquid)
- Passed between 1-3 times daily (some people differ in the frequency, but this is the most regular)
- Consistent in color, shape, and frequency (overall you know what to expect from your own body and if it is different from the norm for a long time, you should seek medical help)
Consistency and What it Means:
The Bristol stool chart is an overarching indicator of how and why different types of poops look or feel a certain way. It’s broken up into seven categories based on a 2,000-person study published back in 1992, and it makes poop knowledge basic and easy to understand.
A healthy poop should be smooth and soft but not overly watery. It should more or less be like a paste.
Some indicators that your poop is not healthy is if it is too hard and difficult to pass, this may be a sign of constipation and indicates that your intestine is not working properly, the waste becomes more concentrated which makes the stool harder to pass.
Sometimes your poop can look like little pebbles and hurt to pass, this is another indicator that you are constipated and if this persists, you should seek professional medical advice.
On the other side of the scale, if your poop is far too watery or diarrhea, this indicates some time of infection and means that the body is trying to eliminate waste as fast as possible to get rid of the infection. This can be dangerous, and it is important to keep hydrated.
If your poop has an oily consistency and has an extremely foul smell, this too is an indicator that your body is not digesting fat properly and is a common symptom of parasitic infections such as giardiasis.
If you see some undigested food parts in your poop, this might mean that your digestive system is not working as well as it should be. This could be due to a lack of digestive enzymes or lack of stomach acid. This can be caused by a range of different things such as infections, viruses, medications, and even stress.
Did you have to drink coffee in order to go to the bathroom? This is also a problem, caffeine helps you go to the bathroom, so if you are only pooping due to help from coffee, there might be a problem. Try eliminating caffeine from your diet and see how it affects your bowel movements. If you need your daily coffee to poop, it is best to get checked out.
Color and What to Look For:
- Black: If your poop is black and tarry, this is not a good sign. If your poop is black, this could mean that you have internal bleeding, please see your doctor immediately.
- Green: If your poop is green, this either means you ate a lot of green veggies, or it could mean that you have bile in your poop! If your poop is consistently green and you are not consuming lots of leafy greens, it’s time to get checked out.
- White: If you noticed that your poop looks white or very pale, this could mean that there is an issue in the liver or the gallbladder. Check if this is a consistent problem and seek medical help to determine the problem.
- Red: If you see bright red specks in your poop, this could indicate a form of bleeding, such as hemorrhoids. If it is more of a burgundy color, this could be from eating foods that are strongly colored such as beets or tomato juice, and is nothing to worry about!
- Orange: Orange poop can also be caused by foods that have an orange color, but can also occur when the bile ducts are blocked, or can result from medication use. If you are concerned by the change of color, you should do a test to identify the source of the problem.
- Yellow: Yellow poop occurs when the poop contains a lot of fat, this can be when there is a problem in the digestive system such as malabsorption, or the lack of production of enzymes and bile.
It is normal for poop color to change from time to time. You should watch out for a consistent change in color, if you have a different colored poop for two weeks or more, you need to seek help from a medical professional.
Frequency of Bowel Movements and What it Means:
Everyone has their own frequency of bowel movements that is normal for them, this could be once a day or four times a day. You will know what your normal is. If you are going more or less frequently than usual, this could indicate a problem.
A regular frequency is around 1-3 times a day, some people are more or less frequent, but if you are passing poop less than three times weekly or more than 5 times a day, this could be an indication that something is wrong.
If you are not going to the bathroom at all, this can be dangerous to your health, as pooping is a way to get rid of waste products in your body, if your body does not get rid of the excess waste, toxins can stay in the body and cause you harm.
If you are going to the bathroom too many times a day, this can also present a problem. Your body needs time to process the food you eat and extract the nutrients from the food. If the food passes too quickly through the digestive system, there is a chance that you will absorb less of these nutrients, which can lead to weight loss and malnutrition.
Ways to Improve your Digestion and your Poop:
- Drink less caffeine
If you are pooping too much or your poop is a watery or loose consistency, this could be due to your extra coffee or other caffeine consumption.
Cut this out to see if your digestion becomes better.
- Try probiotics
Probiotics can help improve your overall digestive health; they introduce more healthy bacteria into the gut which promotes healthy digestion. This is especially helpful if you have been using antibiotics, as antibiotics can kill much of the healthy bacteria in your gut, making your digestion more difficult.
- Drink more water
Water is more important for our digestive systems than we realize. Drinking more water will help you stay hydrated if you are losing water through loose stools.
Equally, drinking more water will ensure that you are regularly going to the bathroom and that your body is hydrated to perform the necessary bowel movements.
- Re-evaluate your diet
If you are having trouble pooping, you should evaluate your diet and look at the possibility of introducing more fiber.
Fiber will help you relieve constipation by making the stool bulkier and easier to pass. Fiber can also help harden extremely loose stools, making it the ultimate nutrient to include in your diet.
On the other hand, if you are going to the bathroom too frequently and you have watery poop, you should follow the BRAT diet (bread, rice, apple sauce, toast) and stick to plain foods, avoiding dairy and spicy foods to allow your stomach to recover.
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- Get checked out
When you have tried to fix your digestive issues and your poop is not improving, the best thing that you can do is make an appointment to see your doctor and do the necessary examinations to determine what the problem is and how you can resolve the issue. Much of the immune system is in your gut, it is not advisable to wait out a problem with your digestive system.
In conclusion, your poop can tell you many different things about your health. If you notice that your poop has changed in consistency, color, or frequency, and you have other symptoms it is worth seeking professional medical advice to resolve the issues with your gut. This is so important as issues in the gut can get worse quickly, implementing the methods that we have discussed in this article will allow you to improve the health of your digestive system and get your poop back on track.