What Is Your Poop Saying About Your Health? 10 Characteristics to Note

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Let’s talk about poop. Your bowel movements are one of the most important indicators of your health that you have. I’m not saying you should monitor every bowel movement. However, if you pay attention to what is happening, you can monitor your health and well-being detect food intolerances you may have missed.

Variation in size, shape and odor is normal. Your poop changes depending on what you ate and how much water you drank. You will experience different types over time; it only becomes a problem when unwanted colors and shapes persist for more than a few days. Here’s what the shape and color of your poop are trying to tell you about your health.

Read for more tips on your health how to identify your blood type and easy ways to improve your gut.

What is the Bristol Stool Form Scale?

Before we begin, let’s take a look at the Bristol Stool Form Scale, a medical device that helps categorize stool into seven buckets, which helps doctors assess how long the stool has been sitting in the gut. It is the scale on which you should think about your bowel movements.

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Everyone’s poop will vary slightly. However, the ideal stool is smooth, easy to pass, and brown. Healthy poop shouldn’t take long to pass. So if you spend more than fifteen minutes in the bathroom, you suffer from constipation. The average person poops anywhere from two days or up to three times a day.

Contact your doctor immediately if you notice significant changes in bowel habits, blood in your stool, or abdominal pain.

What the shape of your stool is trying to tell you

Hard clumps

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Types one and two on the BSFS are typically difficult to pass, indicating constipation. This happens when stool moves slowly through the digestive system, resulting in a long time in your gut. Constipation can be caused by diet, but it can also be stress related. The stress hormones released by the body affect our bodily processes, including bowel movements.

If you often have these types of bowel movements, adding more fiber to your diet can make it easier to move with. According to Mayo Clinic, the recommended fiber intake for women is 21 to 25 grams and 30 to 38 grams per day for men. The vast majority of people do not get enough fiber through their diets. You can try fiber supplements to help things along.

It’s also important to make sure you’re drinking enough water to loosen and loosen your stool pass without effort. You can also add more magnesium-rich foods and probiotics to your diet to relieve constipation.

Soft blobs

Stool characterized as soft blobs (type five) indicates insufficient soluble fiber in your diet. Focus on adding fiber-rich foods like beans, avocados, and whole grains. Or add a fiber supplement to your diet that regulates digestion and gets your bowel movements moving again.

However, taking in too much fiber can cause constipation. In general, this happens with an excess of 70 grams per day. Still, it’s important to monitor your bowel movements when taking fiber supplements to make sure you’re helping your digestive system as intended.

Diarrhea

Types six and seven on the BSFS are forms of diarrhea. This is not the ideal form of stool because it is difficult for the body to get nutrients from food if it passes through the body too quickly.

We’ve all had diarrhea and will get it in the future. An acute case of diarrhea can be caused by illness or food poisoning. Prolonged diarrhea lasting several weeks may indicate food intolerances or underlying digestive disorders. Make an appointment with your doctor if you have frequent diarrhea to address if you have chronic inflammation, irritable bowel syndrome or food sensitivities.

Read more: Tips for traveling with IBS

Person in polka dot pajamas running to the toilet with a roll of toilet paper in hand.

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What the color of your stool says about your diet

Brown is the normal poop color, with slight variations in shade. However, the stool may vary in color based on your diet and the medications you are taking.

White or pale

Your stool should not be chalky or white. Sometimes it happens as a side effect of medications you are taking. However, it may indicate more serious health problems. White or pale stools may indicate that your body is not making enough bile, that a bile duct is blocked, or that you have an infection or inflammation in the liver, pancreas, or gallbladder.

Red

Red stools can be alarming, but can occur because of everyday sources such as your diet. If you eat a lot of cranberries or beets, you may notice that your stool has a red tint. It can also happen because you have used a lot of red dye or red-colored medicines. Red stool can present in two ways: a red coating or spots.

More seriously, red stools may indicate bleeding in the colon or rectum, which could be symptoms of conditions such as diverticulosis, Crohn’s disease, or conditions such as colon cancer. If you haven’t eaten anything that would make your stools turn red, call your doctor right away for a visit.

Vegetable

Green poop is okay sometimes! There are a few reasons why green stool may occur. First you eat a lot of green leafy vegetables – that’s for the best reason. It could also be because you ate a lot of things with green food coloring. Finally, it may indicate that your food is passing through your body too quickly.

Yellow

For most people, yellowish, oily stools tell you that your diet contains too much fat. Alternatively, it is an indicator of malabsorption, or your body is not getting nutrients from your food. Celiac disease is a malabsorption disease that is often the culprit behind yellow stools.

Black

Black poop is another color no one wants to see. However, your stool may be black because of your medications. For example, iron supplements or over-the-counter medications such as Pepto Bismol can create a black color.

If you haven’t had any of these, black stools could also be a sign of upper gastrointestinal bleeding. Any amount of internal bleeding is something to check out. If you notice that your stools are extremely dark or black and you haven’t taken any supplements, make an appointment with your primary care doctor to find out the source.

Other features of stool

Change in smell

Let’s be clear: it will never smell good. Although you generally know what to expect from your body in regards to smell. If you suddenly experience bowel movements that are particularly foul-smelling or unique to your body, it could indicate that something is up.

It may indicate Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, or ulcerative colitis. Alternatively, it could mean you have inflammation of the pancreas or intestine.

Floating

Sometimes poop floats because it is less dense than other stools. This can happen from a high-fiber diet or a large amount of gas. It can also mean that your body is not absorbing nutrients as it should. Occasional floating stools are not an immediate sign of concern. Consistent floating stool is worth mentioning to your doctor.

Person digging a spoon into a chia and blueberry smoothie.

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Tips to keep your digestive system healthy

We all want healthy digestion. After all, our body absorbs the nutrients we need from our food in our intestines. Here are a few tips you can implement in your diet to keep your gut healthy.

  • Drinking water: The most common reason people have type one or two stools on the BSFS is that they are not drink enough water. Water helps loosen and move stool. If you are prone to constipation, make sure to drink plenty of water.
  • Eat colon-healthy foods: A well-balanced diet does more than just give your body the nutrients it needs; it helps you poop. Make sure you eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, fiber and magnesium.
  • Exercise regularly: Integrate exercise in your daily routine is one of the best things you can do to stay regular. It reduces the time it takes for food to pass through the gut. Exercise keeps everything moving in time.

The TL;DR version of this is: Everyone poops, and it is normal for there to be variation in bowel movements. The best form of stool is long, smooth and brown. Any lasting changes in your poop are worth meeting with your doctor who is about to rule out medical conditions.

The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified healthcare provider if you have any questions about a medical condition or health goals.

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