My family often tease me as they think I have an obsession with poop. Apparently, I’m often telling them about my dog, Temi’s, poop. So they weren’t at all surprised when I told them that the topic of my blog post this week is poop.
I know, I know… poop isn’t something you want to talk about! In fact, 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.
So, let’s see what you can find out about your health from what you see in the toilet after doing a poop.
Is my poop normal?
First of all, you need to understand that ‘normal’ differs from person to person. So, your ‘normal’ can be somebody’s weird. You need to find out what’s the regular frequency, texture, colour and smell of your bowel movements so that you can determine your normal poop.
As a general rule, it is considered a good health requirement to poop daily and ideally first thing in the morning. This is also something that varies from person to person. But, you should be aware of the fact that what you eat plays an important role in the frequency and consistency of your poop. 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
The Bristol Stool Chart describes seven types of poop categorized by texture and is used by medical professionals to classify bowel movements. Here’s a brief outline of the seven types of stools:
- Type 1 – separate hard lumps which are hard to pass
- Type 2 – sausage-shaped, yet lumpy
- Type 3 – sausage-shaped with cracks on the surface
- Type 4 – sausage- or snake-like, smooth and soft
- Type 5 – soft blobs with clear-cut edges which pass easily
- Type 6 – soft and fluffy pieces with ragged edges
- Type 7 – entirely liquid without solid pieces
What does this mean?
- Types 1 and 2 suggest constipation
- Types 3 and 4 are the perfect types of stool as they are easier to pass
- Types 5 and 6 may indicate diarrhoea
- Type 7 may be a sign of illness, for example, food poisoning
What is the colour telling me?
If the colour of your poop is anything else besides brown, it is normally due to the food you ate most recently though 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, either inability to get into your GI tract or not enough bile produced by the liver, indicating a stone or a tumour, hepatitis or cirrhosis
- Red – blood in your stool from the intestines, suggesting polyps, 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 me?
The truth is, stools have an unpleasant smell and that is completely normal no matter what colour or texture it is. This 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.
An 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.
The link between your stool and some digestive conditions.
Your stool can also point towards some digestive conditions when specific problems appear together with other symptoms. Such digestive conditions include IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
IBS, which is a very common colon disorder, can be identified when a person experiences bouts of constipation and/or diarrhoea, excess gas and stomach pain.
Crohn’s disease is a chronic disease characterised by inflammation of the bowel which results in chronic diarrhoea, significant weight loss, lower abdominal pain and fever.
Similarly to Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory condition characterised by inflammation in the rectum that later spreads to other parts of the colon and results in chronic diarrhoea with traces of blood.
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: All information contained in this blog is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent health problems. For all serious health issues, please contact a medical or nutrition practitioner. 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.