Today's topic may be one of those taboo topics for you - it gets really personal! Some may consider it an invasive topic .... BUT ...
That’s not a secret but people are often secretive about their poop. Pooping is a natural body function to excrete waste from the body. Did you know that there is a vast amount of health information that your poop and poop habits can tell you?
Let’s take a look at the variables.
How often do you poop?
What is the consistency/color of your poop?
How easy is it to move your bowels and have the poop come out?
Do you feel like you’re empty when you’re done? (Complete vs. incomplete evacuation of poop)
These four variables can each be a clue to the health of the individual. What is your poop trying to tell you?
Number of Stools
The number of stools or poop per day is a clue to bowel function. It’s also highly individualized. In other words, what is a ‘normal’ number of poops per day for one person is not necessarily the ‘normal’ number for another person.
Most people recognize when they are not moving their bowels enough and feel full or bloated from not passing stools frequently enough. If you usually go once a day and now you realize that it has started to be every second or third day that you have the urge to poop, that’s a clue from your body for you to pay attention.
On the other hand, most of us quickly recognize when the number of stools increase per day because that is something that readily gets our attention--whether or not the increased numbers are associated with a change in the consistency of the stool. We usually stop and think about what we ate that may account for this change.
Bristol Stool Chart
To see for yourself the different consistencies of bowel movements, you can access the Bristol Stool Chart here. This chart, developed by researchers at the Bristol Royal Infirmary—a hospital in Bristol, England, shows the 7 different consistencies for human poops. The ideal poop is Type 4 or Type 5, described as a soft log, snake or soft-serve ice cream. It might be gross to think of poop in those terms but remember, this is a natural body function that clues us in to body health, so pay attention to your poops. There is no need to be embarrassed or secretive about your poops!
Color of poops is another wide-ranged variable. This could reflect food in your diet. Very pale, almost colorless stools should be checked out. Likewise, very black, sticky, tar-like stools as well as bright red blood in the stools should be investigated by a health professional. These colors should not be ignored.
What’s that you say? You don’t look at your poops so how do you know what color they are? Take a look at your poops before you flush—what is your pooh telling you?
Bowel movements should ideally be relatively effortless. The idea of setting up camp in the bathroom with novels, iPads, cell phones and such is unnecessary with optimal gastrointestinal function. Once the urge hits, respond to it as quickly as possible. Sit or squat and with minimal effort to relax the anal sphincters, the stool should come out without prolonged grunting, straining, or otherwise helping it out.
The last variable is how you feel when you make the decision that you’re done. If there is a lasting feeling that you haven’t completely evacuated your ‘poop chute’, there might be a problem with the gut motility—the ability to move the stool down and out. This occurs with prolonged constipation, especially when the lower colon and rectum lose touch with the nerve signals to move waste all the way out of your body.
To recap, healthy pooping occurs from 1-3 times per day with a poop that easily exits the body without straining or pain. The consistency is soft but formed. It appears snakelike or log shaped or with the consistency of soft-serve ice cream. With normal bowel functioning, you will have that self-satisfying feeling that you got it all out and you feel relieved of pressure, bloating and pains in the left lower side of your abdomen.
There is a wealth of information that your body is telling you through your poop. If you are one who does not like to look at your poop, you are missing out on vital information to help improve your health. The next time you are ‘doing your duty,’ go through the checklist above with the 4 variables for the scoop on poop.
If you think that your poop is telling you something that is outside the normal range, please listen carefully to the message and act on that information. See your doctor, as needed.
Lastly, parents need to pay attention to the poop of their children = the bowel plays a very important part in the health of your family and children especially may be at risk. The food they eat and liquids they drink, not enough water, too much water, etc. can affect, in some cases seriously, the health and wellbeing of children. Please see RESOURCES at the end of this page to learn more about
1 Dr. Tom's Weekly Laxative & Stool Report Form https://www.theinsandoutsofpoop.com/insandouts/DrTom_WeeklyLaxativeStoolRecord_2012.pdf
Dr. Tom's Guide to Treatng Childhood Constipation https://www.theinsandoutsofpoop.com/insandouts/educational-resources.html