What Your Poop Says About Your Health
There’s no doubt that what goes into our bodies is a testimony to our health. But did you know that what’s coming out also says a lot about your wellbeing?
The look, smell, texture and frequency of our bowel motions gives us valuable clues about the wellness of our insides. The trouble is, discussing poop with your friends is socially taboo, to say the least. So how do you know if you’re normal and healthy?
Thankfully, this is a safe space to ditch conversation niceties and talk about those awkward tummy tales without any judgement; just helpful advice to ensure your health is right on track. So here's the scoop on your poop!
First Things First… What Really Even IS Your Poo?
Admittedly this isn’t one of life’s big, philosophical questions that you’re likely to reflect upon very often. But have you ever stopped to wonder what your poo is actually made of?
If you guessed that it’s leftover food that we didn’t digest, you are partially correct! In fact, over half of your feces is actually made up of water, with the rest made up of undigested solids, bacteria and fat.
We also get rid of unwanted metabolic waste products and toxins in our poop. So pooing regularly is an important way for our bodies to eliminate the ‘garbage’ it no longer needs.
Is My Poo Normal?
A normal, healthy bowel motion should be brown, moist and cohesively well-formed. A healthy poo should not require you to strain in order to pass it or leave you feeling incompletely evacuated.
In the opposite extreme, it is also not normal to experience recurrent bouts of loose stools or diarrhea. Passing mucus or blood in the stools are major signs that something is amiss in your gut and should be checked by a reputable health practitioner. Likewise, if your poop is light-colored and floating, this can indicate that your liver or ability to digest fat is problematic and should also be investigated.
Some health professionals say a healthy poo should be shaped like an 'S', but a soft, easy-to-pass stool similar to either Type 4 according to the Bristol Stool Scale in the image below is a good sign!
How Often Should I Poop?
There is a wide range in what health experts recommend is a healthy frequency to poop.
For most of us, it is normal to poop as much as three times a day or as little as once every second day. However, many health practitioners advise that there is wide variation in gut transit time between people. Therefore, there is a large range of pooping frequency that is considered ‘normal’ if it has always been ‘normal’ for you!
You may be having gut issues if:
- You experience a change in the routine of what is ‘normal’ for how often you usually go to the toilet.
- Unexpectedly and unexplainably you start to lose weight.
- The color, smell and texture of your poop changes.
- You have excessive abdominal pain, gas or bloating.
- There are recurrent issues with nausea and vomiting.
- There is a shiny film of oil in the toilet when you poop. This is called steatorrhea and means there is excessive amounts of fat in your diet or a significant amount of fat not being absorbed in your body.
- The color of your poop is dark black, or there is blood in the water. Don't freak out if you've eaten beets recently - some foods such as beets can turn your pee and poop a shade of red that you might not have been expecting. But if you've had no beets and you're seeing red or producing dark black stools, it could be something more serious.
So if your poop or digestive system is giving you any of the above messages, it is time to get checked out by a trusted health practitioner!
How To Get In The Good Toilet Habit
When digestion isn’t working properly it can affect our entire wellbeing. Therefore, it makes good sense to put some habits into place to support our digestion and give us happy, healthy poop!
Here are a few easy tips that we suggest to support your gut:
- HYDRATE. Unless you have a renal or cardiovascular issue that limits your water intake, most adults need to be drinking, at least, 68oz (2L) of fluid each day. This helps to soften the stool and enables fibre to work properly so that poop can move through your insides and evacuate easily.
- USE A GOOD QUALITY PROBIOTIC. The friendly probiotic bacteria in our gut play a big role in digestion, immune function and keeping our intestines healthy. However, pesticides, antibiotics and many other factors affect our probiotic populations. A probiotic supplement can help to replenish our friendly gut bacteria and keep our digestive system happy!
- FIT IN ENOUGH FIBER. There are two types of fiber that we need in our diet; insoluble fiber is the ‘roughage’ that bulks up our stools and ‘sweeps’ through our insides. Soluble fiber absorbs water and softens the stool. Getting enough of both types of fiber is important for making perfect poop!
- SQUAT IT. Before artificial toilets were created, humans once squatted to void their bowels. This position naturally compresses the bowel walls and assists with gentle pressure to move bowel motions through. While we don’t suggest that pooping in the wild again is by any means a solution, propping your legs on a small stool under your toilet seat can help to mimic this natural process.