Is there such thing as “quality poop”?
What you see in the toilet, and what your bathroom experience is, can say a lot about your health or lack thereof.
Digestion in a nutshell
To get to the “end” we have to start at the beginning. Your BM starts its journey as food. Food starts off in the mouth getting chewed and mixed with enzymes that starts digestion. The food gets pushed down to the stomach where it’s mixed with more enzymes that break down protein. Then into the small intestine where everything your cells need to live is absorbed by the lining of the small intestine, goes into the blood, and gets distributed to all the cells of you body.
Anything left over that is not used by the body as fuel goes to the large intestine.
Your large intestine is about as long as you are tall and it is the place where water gets absorbed and re-absorbed. The waste moves through and collects in the sigmoid colon. The sigmoid pushes the poop further on down the line and it collects in the rectum. Truly healthy rectums are filled and emptied daily.
If all is well, a nicely formed, light brown, somewhat soft, bowel movement is pushed out of the anus (mostly by the internal contractions of the rectum) and voila! A turd is born!
Stool is 75% water, 8.3% dead bacteria, 8.3% live bacteria, and 8.4% indigestible fiber.
But in order for that turd to be “healthy” at the end, it needs fiber and water at the beginning. Without these two important elements in the diet, there can be no healthy poo.
Does this look like your poo?
Everyone should be looking in the toilet to see what you’ve left behind from your behind. It’s only when you know your poo, that you really know you!
You go about 1 time daily usually at the same time. Your poo is soft but formed and it is described as a snake rather than a sausage. It is light brown to medium brown in color. There is no pain or effort. There is no “plopping” sound. When you wipe the toilet paper is pretty clean.
What this says: You have mastered the art of truly zen bowel movements. You are healthy and get plenty of water (goal 64 oz/day) Raw fruits and veggies are a main staple of your diet. You don’t eat a lot of dairy, white starch (white rice, white pasta, bread…) or processed food. You exercise regularly.
Bravo! You are the kung-poo master!
You feel like you want to go, but it only happens 2 x week or less. When it does happen there are grunting sounds followed by tearing eyes and a huge sigh of relief when it’s over. Sometimes you feel a bit dizzy when your done. Your poop, even though you’ve worked very hard at it, is only a tiny hard marble (or many marbles) and it makes a splash when it hits the water. You might see a little bit of bright red blood in the toilet or on the tissue.
What this says: Your diet probably consists of fries and donuts washed down with coffee. You are a huge coffee drinker (large amounts of coffee, more than 2 cups/day, on a regular basis dehydrate your system). You can’t remember the last time you ate anything raw…..and ketchup is your daily vegetable. Water isn’t water unless it’s a Coke. Your exercise is taking a shower. You probably have a lot of bloating and cramping and are always complaining that you are tired.
How to get a “zen BM”: Start with your water intake. This is a simple way to improve your bowels. Since your poop contains mostly water and fiber, you can’t poop if you don’t put that in your mouth. A daily 15 minute walk would also help.
The smaller your poop is, the more stressed you are. The more relaxed the colon is, the longer (not bigger) the stool is.
Bright red blood, a little bit, means you might have hemorrhoids or tiny tears in your rectum (like paper cuts on your butt hole) that you get from too much straining. (Anything persistent or more than just a little bit should get checked by your doctor right away) When you strain, you are performing a “valsalva maneuver”. This strain puts pressure on the heart reducing the amount of blood that is pumped out. For most healthy people, this is not a problem, but if you have an underlying heart condition (that you may not be aware of) it can cause problems.
Think about it….do you want them to find you dead….like that?
Straining can also cause little tears in your retina causing you to see “floaters” (not in the toilet….in your vision). This usually corrects on its own. But, really, if you’re pushing so hard you are making your eyes bleed, don’t you think it’s time for a change?
Your poop is formed, but you see “stuff” in it. Sometimes they sink and sometimes they float.
What this says: You’ve eaten something that your body can’t digest. For example, the outer shell of corn kernels are made of cellulose–totally indigestible by your body. If you were to pull those kernels out (I don’t recommend this) you would find the inside of the shell is gone.
Floaters are poops with gas in them. If you dink a lot of carbonated drinks, you most likely have floaters. Sinkers don’t have as much gas. Either is fine it just depends on your diet.
You poop fine, but sometimes it’s strange colors like green and yellow
What this says: You eat colorful stuff. Dark green veggies like spinach, will turn your poop greenish. Artificial blue dye like in Gatorade and blue ice pops will turn your poop a bright green (like glow in the dark). Beets will turn your stools darker. (and will turn your pee a beautiful sunset color)
Light or clay colored stools could mean there is a problem with your liver and should be checked out.
Yellow stools can sometime mean there is blood disorder as it is the broken down “dead” red blood cells that are digested that give poop it’s brown color.
Black stools mean that you are breaking down and digesting living red blood cells, that is, you are bleeding somewhere in your digestive tract. (those vampires must have some black stools, eh?) Dark stools can also be the result of certain medications or iron supplements.
Persistant black or light colored stools should always be evaluated by a doctor.
I know poop stinks, but even I can’t take it!
What this says : You are probably a meat eater. Digested meat is stinkier than veggies. Also certain other foods like spicy beans produce gasses in your bowel that produce noxious gasses in your bathroom.
Doody also is loaded with bacteria. (E.Coli is the main one). This is normal and is necessary for normal poop production. These bacteria produce gasses when they grow and reproduce. It is these gasses that smell.
If the smell is bad and strange, and you see fatty snot in your poop, you may have fat collecting in your stool. This is not normal as fat is normally digested by enzymes and processes in your stomach and small intestines. If there’s fat, something in that process is not working and it should be checked out.
Poo #6 I go 3x/day and it’s very soft or liquid. I feel bloated and get cramps a lot.
What this says: This probably happens when you have a deadline at work coming up or have to take a test at school. Acute stress can cause you body to become hyperactive and this also translated to your bowels. If the stool is pushed through too quickly, there is no time for the water to become re-absorbed, so it comes out with too much water in it.
Virusus can also cause inflammation of the bowel and spasms causing the stool to be moved along too fast. Intestinal viruses usually move through your system in a few days.
Prolonged loose stools can cause dehydration. Any prolonged diarrhea that lasts for more than 1 week or that are accompanied by fever or blood should always be evaluated by a professional. Diarrhea in children is particularly dangerous as they can become dehydrated quickly.
Many occasional loose stool problems are diet related. Dairy is the usual culprit. Artificial sweeteners like sorbitol is another.
Some other fun stuff to know about #2
- you can have from 5 to 25 pounds of stool in your body depending on your size and type of diet.
- close the lid on the toilet before you flush. The flushing agitates the water (and feces) so that tiny droplets of water are hurled up to 20 feet. (I’m betting it’s less than that to your toothbrush, isn’t it?)
- using witch hazel, a natural product that has been used for thousands of years, can ease the pain of hemorrhoids. Here is a great and trusted company that has wonderfully pure witch hazel extract. Soak some cotton cloths or cotton balls and place them on your anus (not the planet) for 10 minutes or so. You can also use witch hazel in a sitz bath. Hey, who says being anal is a bad thing?
- Bird poop is white and pasty, because they can’t urinate, so they mix everything together and it all comes out at once–right on your freshly washed car!
- some say processed “chemically enhanced” foods never really leave your digestive tract. That means you probably have some food from when you were a baby in your gut right now.
- In 1998 Friedrich Riesfeldt, a German zoo keeper was killed when the elephant he was treating for constipation crapped on him, covering him and killing him.