Poop is just the undigested food, bacteria, proteins, salts, and other substances produced and released by the intestines. Although the size, shape, and smell of the poop vary as per the diet and lifestyle of each individual, your poop can still tell a lot about your health.
What is a normal stool?
A normal, healthy stool can be as diverse and unique as the individual who releases it. But, there are a few general things that can help you assess your stool and general health.
Color- The poop emoji rightly defines the brown color of a healthy poop. Bilirubin, a pigment compound made from the breakdown of RBCs in the body is responsible for the brown color of the stool.
Shape- Due to its formation in the intestines, normal stool should come out in a loglike shape. However, there are different shapes that stools can have. But, when the stool varies from the log or sausage shape, that is when your stool is trying to tell you something about your health.
Size- Healthy stool should not come out in the form of/like small pellets. Instead, the stool should be a few inches in length and should be comfortable and easy to pass.
Consistency- The consistency of the healthy or normal stool can be anywhere between a firm to a soft consistency. But, if your poop sways one way or the other, it is a sign of digestion issues or inadequate fiber intake.
The time it takes to pass stool- A healthy poop should take only a few minutes to push it out and should be easy to pass. However, some people spend a bit more time doing their number two. Even still, there should be no struggle if your poop is normal and not take more than 10-15 minutes.
Frequency- On average, an individual with healthy digestion may poop anywhere between every other day to 3 times each day, it basically depends on his diet and digestion. Though, pooping less than the average can suggest constipation, which means, the person needs to add more water in his daily life to push out the poop.
Things Stool Says About Your Health
Yes, it sounds gross to assess your bowel movements. But, paying attention to your stool can tell you a lot about what is going inside your body. A person’s bowel movements are a strong indicator of his digestive health. Changes in the shape, color or texture of stool can be signs of infection, digestive issues or sometimes, more serious health problems including cancer.
You must now be wondering how can you determine if your stool is normal? Normal and healthy bowel movement is generally considered a soft stool, typically brownish in color and is easy to pass. Change in bowel habits with constipation, diarrhea, abdominal discomfort or nausea can be indicative of a health problem.
What is the Bristol Stool Scale?
Bristol Stool Scale is the underlying indicator of how and why different types of stool feel in a certain way. Based on a vast study, this scale is broken up into 7 categories and makes the basic knowledge about bowel movements handy and easy to understand.
The Bristol Stool Scale
Fecal matter is 75% water and 25% solid matter, which consists of indigestible food, dead bacteria, and inorganic substances. It usually takes about 3 days for food to pass through the system, which results in a bowel movement. But when food passes through the system too quickly or too slowly, it affects the size, texture, and color of the stool.
The Bristol Stool Scale classifies the types of stool into 7 categories, based on the size and texture.
Signs of constipation
Type 1 and 2 of the stool as per the Bristol Stool Scale are hard and lumpy stools, which are most painful to pass. Such a stool passed has been sitting in the person’s large intestine and colon for longer than the normal time and are indicative of a constipated person. Constipation can be caused due to several factors including dietary changes, medications, stress, or a medical illness. (Also Read: Stool Softener in Constipation: Uses, Benefits And Side Effects )
What health conditions can be the cause of constipation?
- Irritable Bowel Disease or IBS
- Gastrointestinal Disease
- Fecal Impaction
Signs of healthy digestion
Type 3 and 4 as per the Bristol Stool Scale are considered the appropriate form of healthy stool. A healthy stool is supposed to be snake-like or sausage-shaped. It should be easy to pass and remains intact when flushed. A healthy stool does not require straining or spending too much time on the toilet seat.
Signs of diarrhea
Stool types 5, 6 and 7 as per the Bristol Stool Scale are mushy and watery. Such bowel movements are in the large intestine and colon for the minimum amount of time and may indicate diarrhea. Many factors including medications, dietary changes, medical illness, food intolerance, infections or stress can cause diarrhea.
What health conditions can be the cause of diarrhea?
- Stomach Flu
- Food intolerance, (like lactose intolerance)
- Food allergy (Also Read: 15 Ways To Cure Stomach Ache Due To Food Allergies )
- Adverse reaction to a medication
- Viral or bacterial infection
- Intestinal disease
- Parasitic infection
- Stomach or gallbladder surgery
The link between stool color and health
The color of stool can also reflect an individual’s overall health. As mentioned previously, the healthy stool is generally brownish in color. Read below what the other color of stool says about your health-
- Black or reddish, may indicate gastrointestinal bleeding and is a cause of concern.
- The stool which is gray in color may indicate liver problems.
- The yellow, greasy or foul-smelling stool may indicate that your intestines did not properly digest and absorb the fat in your food. This could be due to a disease of the intestinal lining like Chronic Pancreatitis or Celiac disease.
Tips for maintaining healthy bowels
Nearly 70% of the human body’s immune system is contained in the digestive tract, and thus, it is essential to maintain good bowel health. To keep bowel movements healthy and frequent, the following tips are suggested:
- Eat a well-balanced, fiber-rich diet. Fiber can help relieve and prevent constipation. (Also Read: Nutrition Health – To Get Rid of Piles & Constipation!! )
- Exercising regularly can decrease the duration of the food to move through the large intestine and thus prevent constipation.
- Consider a colonoscopy.
A Colonoscopy allows the doctors to look for polyps inside the colon and rectum, which can be an early sign of cancer. People with a personal history of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or a family history of colorectal cancer or polyps should consider undergoing a colonoscopy.
- Stay hydrated. Water can help to clear out toxins from the body. Drink a lot of water for easy bowel movements and prevent constipation.
Also Read: Why is there blood in your stool?