GUEST POST: Although it still remains a sensitive subject, there are many interesting and even surprising things your poop could say about your health.
Paying proper attention to what you flush down the toilet may be a reflection of your health status. Tune in to find out and learn more. Don’t worry, it does not mean that you need to stop joking around about your poop!
Why does normal poop have a deep brown chocolate color?
The normal color for poop is usually dark brown chocolate due to the presence of a chemical substance called ‘stercobilin’.
Stercobilin is produced as a result of hemoglobin breakdown from red blood cells or from bile that is secreted from the gallbladder to the intestines to aid in digestion and absorption of fat.
What different colors of poop mean
If your poop becomes pale grey to white in color, then it indicates absence of stercobilin. What does that mean? Well, this means that bile has not been able to reach the intestines and act on the digestive process. This may be due to a defect in production or storage and transport of bile.
Black poop or red
What if my poop is black or dark red? Before you panic, think about what you have eaten. This may happen after eating beetroot (red), with food colorings, or while taking iron supplements (black). Otherwise, this may indicate bleeding from the upper part of the gastrointestinal tract. As the blood passes through your guts, it is acted upon by bacteria that make it a soft, black, and offensive tarry-like poop. This may warrant an urgent visit to a gastroenterologist (doctors that specialize in treating digestive system disorders).
Green or Yellow
Poop may be green or yellow during infections like a simple gastroenteritis or traveller’s diarrhea. Infections may be also associated with having some fresh blood in stools. Additionally, fresh blood may point towards other conditions of the large bowels like polyps, inflammatory bowel disease, diverticulitis, and possibly colon cancer.
What about poop texture?
The best poop texture is a sausage-like sinking poop!
Surprisingly, the consistency of your daily motions tells you much about your health.
The Bristol stool scale or Bristol stool chart (BSC) has been a widely adopted tool to classify the human poop. This tool reflects the colon transit time for the poop itself. Moreover, the chart is also used as part of the diagnostic triad for irritable bowel syndrome.
The BSC consists of the following seven types:
- Type 1: Separate hard lumps, like nuts (hard to pass); also known as goat faeces
- Type 2: Sausage-shaped, but lumpy
- Type 3: Like a sausage but with cracks on its surface
- Type 4: Like a sausage or snake, smooth and soft
- Type 5: Soft blobs with clear cut edges (passed easily)
- Type 6: Fluffy pieces with ragged edges, a mushy stool
- Type 7: Watery, no solid pieces, entirely liquid
You want your poop to be somewhere around type 3 and 4, with a higher preference to type 4. If your poop is of type 1 and 2, then you are constipated, while types 5, 6 and 7 are trends towards diarrhea.
There are many factors that affect the consistency of our poop including diet, hydration, and medications. If you seem to be having trouble with your poop, then visit your doctor and review your lifestyle to help maintain a healthy consistent motion.
What a change in your bowel movements could mean
Have you ever experienced changes in your bowel motions? At some point in time, we have all had altered bowels either due to diet changes, medications, and/or infections.
Therefore, the type of bowel motions can tell us about our health too. Notably, a good amount of vegetable consumption and diet rich in fiber keeps the motion more regular with well-formed stool. This is observed in developing countries in contrast to developed countries where the poop is usually softer due to more fatty diets.
Many gastrointestinal conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel diseases, and malabsorption disorders lead to alteration of the bowel habits. This is more likely with associated complaints like weight loss, fever, abdominal pain, or passing mucus in stool.
Do not hesitate to check with your family doctor if you have concerns regarding your bowel motions.
Tips for the best poop in a nutshell:
These are some tips that can help to improve the overall characteristics of your daily motions. says Dr. Mostafa Afifi (Gastroenterologist at Mubarak Al-Kabeer Hospital, Kuwait).
1. Make sure you eat a good amount of fiber-rich food daily.
Plenty of fiber is helpful to push the waste products through your guts. Fiber serves as food for your gut bacteria that is essential to make a healthy balance of gut flora.
2. Good hydration with bottles of purified water.
You will need a proper daily hydration depending on your own loss. This mainly affects the consistency of your poop. The colon absorbs water according to your body needs. Therefore, with proper hydration you can avoid constipation.
3. Set your own routine.
Remember that you can control your bowels and train them well. Set a daily breakfast rich in fiber and a warm cup of water with apple cider vinegar. Choose a designated daily time for relaxing and passing motion. Train your bowels and prepare yourself to achieve a type 4 poop according to the Bristol Stool Chart!
4. Do some breathing exercises or even try out Yoga daily.
Daily breathing exercises help to relax, avoid blockage, and overcome resistance. It has been suggested that some Yoga exercises like Yin Yoga help improve organ health.
Dr. Charles-Davies Omiete is a medical doctor and founder of 25 Doctors, a website where you can ask doctors medical questions online.