Who would have thought that we should embrace and be comfortable with the thought of pooping?
I know, I know… poop isn’t something you want to talk about! It is usually an off-putting topic and people generally feel uncomfortable and embarrassed when they have to talk about it, even with their doctor. But, the truth is, your poop – from the shape, size, smell, and colour – can tell you a lot about your overall health and wellbeing.
Why must I poop every day?
You have to poop to survive because it’s the body’s main avenue for getting rid of waste. If you don’t poop daily then your stool can back up in your intestines where harmful bacteria will produce toxins that are harmful to your body.
As a general rule, it is considered a good health requirement to poop after every meal. So if you eat two meals a day then you should be pooping twice a day. In other words, your poop is literally what you eat and the ideal indicator of your health.
Several other factors can also influence your bowel movements including your level of physical activity, sleep deprivation, water consumption, hormonal imbalance, menopause and medical treatments.
The Bristol Stool Chart and stool texture
The Bristol Stool Chart describes seven types of poop categorized by texture and is used by medical professionals to classify bowel movements.
The ideal shape you are looking for in the toilet bowl is sausage-shaped with either cracks on the surface or smooth and soft.
Anything other than that may indicate constipation or diarrhoea.
What is the colour telling you?
If the colour of your poop is anything besides brown, it is normally due to the food you ate most recently although it can indicate a serious health concern and may require a visit to the doctor.
Here are some poop colour explanations:
- Dark-coloured (almost black) – bleeding from higher in your gastrointestinal (GI) tract, stomach ulcer or high iron levels
- Pale and clay-coloured (white) – problems with bile, indicating a stone or a tumour, hepatitis or cirrhosis
- Red – blood in your stool from the intestines, suggesting polyp, diverticulitis, inflammation or colon cancer
- Yellow – issues with fat digestion, suggests coeliac disease or chronic pancreatitis
- Green – a usual sign of infection.
What is the smell telling you?
The truth is, stools have an unpleasant smell and that is completely normal no matter what colour or texture it is. The odour is due to the bacteria present in the colon which are needed for breaking down food. However, if the smell of your poop changes or you notice that it suddenly smells unbearable and abnormally bad, you should seek medical help.
The extremely bad odour can be a result of an infection or even suggest colon inflammation due to inflammatory bowel disease or it can indicate coeliac disease, chronic pancreatitis, cystic fibrosis or lactose intolerance.
Should my poop float or sink?
When your poop floats, it’s typically a sign that you’re having issues with fat. I don’t mean the fat on your body, rather the fat present in your food that your body is trying to digest.
First of all, fat isn’t bad for you! Yes, unhealthy, bad fats should be avoided, but good fats are crucial for your body to function well.
So when your poops are floaters rather than sinkers, it’s usually a sign that you are:
- Eating too much fat and not enough fibre to absorb it
- Having problems digesting and absorbing fats
So, switch to good fats and avoid the unhealthy fats – go for coconut, olive and avocado oil more often.
Lifestyle changes that can help you poop daily
- Add more fibre to your diet, with fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, beans and whole grains.
- Exercise most days of the week. Light exercise helps maintain proper circulation and can keep the bowels healthy.
- Consume plenty of liquids — mostly water and other clear liquids — every day. Aim for at least eight glasses of clear liquids per day.
- Manage your stress levels.
- Never “hold in” your stool. If you need to go then you need to go. It’s your body talking to you.
It’s no surprise that your number two can tell you plenty about your health. Monitoring your poop is the perfect way to detect some serious health conditions in the early stages and to determine any changes needed within your diet or lifestyle.
So, the next time you go to the toilet, take a closer look at what you see and smell, before you flush!
Medical Disclaimer: This article is for information purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. For medical advice always consult your physician. The information provided in this blog is based on the best knowledge of the author at the time of writing and we do not assume liability for the information within this blog, be it direct or indirect, consequential, special, exemplary or other damages.