The Scoop on Your Poop
Unless you’re the parent of a toddler who has just mastered “going potty,” poop is probably not a hot topic in your household. But the composition of what you deposit into the toilet has important implications for health.
Although it’s not a comfortable subject, I have to ask my clients what’s going on with their poop. Many are embarrassed since it’s not usually a topic that is talked about in friendly conversation!
I got over my embarrassment a long time ago since I knew I was going to be talking about it with my future clients. It’s so important to look (some people don’t!) and actually see what’s going on with what’s coming out.
Did you know the features of fecal matter—such as the size, color, shape, odor, and consistency indicate how well the gastrointestinal (GI) tract is functioning?
Those same features also provide clues about how your body is (or isn’t) faring against threats of infection and more serious diseases like celiac disease, hepatitis, urinary tract infections, malabsorption disorders, inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatitis, and cancer.
To give you an idea of what healthy, normal stool looks like, check out the Bristol Stool Chart. The healthy range for fecal matter is of a consistency that is not too hard, not too soft, and mostly solid—as opposed to lumpy, pellet-like, or liquid. Normal stool color is in the light-to-medium brown range and is not offensively odorous. Also, bowel movements (BMs) should pass easily from your body to the toilet.
5 BMs that Require Medical Attention
Unless you are aware of dietary changes or a medication that could produce the following types of stool, it’s advisable to seek medical attention if you observe the following changes in BMs.
1. Stool that is hard to pass, requires straining or is accompanied by abdominal pain.
2. Black, tarry stool might indicate infection or GI bleeding, while bright red stool could indicate infection and/or bleeding in the GI tract or anus. Seek immediate medical attention.
3. White, pale, or gray stool could indicate problems with the liver, bile ducts, or pancreas.
4. Yellow stool could indicate serious infection or gallbladder problems.
5. Mucus in the stool can indicate inflammation, infection, or even cancer.
How Often Should You Go?
How frequently you have a BM is important, too. And, what’s typical for you may be different for other people in your family. Three daily BMs are considered the norm. No matter how often you poop, you should not have to strain or experience pain while excreting. Additionally, be aware that the appearance and frequency of BMs will vary based on what’s in your diet, sleep and exercise patterns, hormonal changes, travel, stress, hydration level, medications or supplements you are taking, and exposure to toxins (from nicotine to industrial toxins).
How Low Should You Go?
There’s also evidence that the position you take to evacuate the bowels has health implications for the physical structures of the GI tract. So much so that some scientists indicate sitting to poop is a contributing factor in the development of colon and pelvic diseases. Before potty training, young children squat to poop in their diapers—they don’t sit. Yes, there’s a difference between squatting and sitting. The modern toilet places the thighs at a 90-degree angle to the abdomen, whereas squatting has a much deeper angle that gives more motility to the intestinal muscles and organs. Evacuating the bowels is much easier on the body in the squatting versus seated position. Toilet position should be a consideration for everyone over the age of five, but is especially important for the elderly, the disabled, and individuals with compromised mobility.
You can learn more about proper toilet position in this video:
Even though this may be an uncomfortable topic, I hope that this information will help you to pay better attention to what’s coming out (as well as what’s going in!) so you’ll be better informed about the health of your digestive system and body!
If you’re needing help with sorting out what may be going on with your digestive health. I offer a free 30-minute health discovery call where we can chat and see how I can help you get to the root of the problem so you can finally feel strong, sexy and confident again! Schedule your free session here.
Mercola, J. “What You See in the Toilet Can Give You Valuable Insights into Your Health.” Accessed February 2015. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/02/14/normal-stool.aspx
Monastyrsky, K. “Gut Sense: What Exactly Are Normal Stools?” Accessed February 2015.
Sikirov, D. “Comparison of Straining During Defecation in Three Positions: Results and Implications for Human Health.” Abstract. Digestive Diseases and Sciences 48, no. 7 (July 2003): 1201-5.
Step and Go. “Step and Go Ergonomically Correct Toilet Position.” Accessed February 2015.