Shape, Size, Smell, and Frequency of Poop and You – How Poop Shows Your Health

We spend a lot of time looking at symptoms of disease and illnesses. And it turns out, if you want to know anything about your health, all you have to do is look at your feces.

It might sound gross to some of you, but your poop says a lot about your health. It is no joke.

Remember, even Hippocrates at the time said that “all diseases begin in the gut”. And we know that is true today, as inflammation to the gut can cause a number of diseases.

There are three things you need to look when observing your poop. Those are frequency, form, and color.

Let’s break them down.

Bowel movements: Frequency

The normal and healthy person has at least one complete bowel movement per day [1]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1379343/.

When you go to the toilet, you should feel like your bowels have emptied. If you feel like they are partially eliminated, something is not wrong.

Now, some people have 2-3 bowel movements per day [2]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4734897/.

That is the ideal amount.

Those who have 2 or 3 bowel movements per day have a fast metabolism, more robust good bacteria, and the quantity and quality of food they consume is great.

Now, having more than 3 bowel movements per day means that you are entering the world of diarrhea.

Bowel movements are one of the best ways our body eliminate toxins, acids, and other stuff, so it is best to do it daily.

If you have a bowel movement once every few days, something might be wrong.

That doesn’t mean something serious, but something wrong.

Bowel movements: Form

This is probably the grossest thing you will have to do.

Looking at the shape and form of your poop is not something many of us want to do.

But the form is very important [3]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1624166.

You want to be sure your poop has formed well.

Good form and shape is a clear sign of good digestion and absorption of nutrients from the food.

There are seven types of bowels [4]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bristol_stool_scale.

Here are those:

  • Type 1 – separate hard lumps that are hard to pass and look like little balls
  • Type 2 – sausage shaped poop, but lumpy
  • Type 3 – looks like a sausage, but has cracks on the surface
  • Type 4 – looks like a sausage or snake, and has a soft and smooth texture
  • Type 5 – soft blobs with clear cut edges, and passed easily
  • Type 6 – Fluffy pieces with ragged edges
  • Type 7 – no solid pieces, entirely liquid

You want your poop to have type 4 form.

This is the nice tubular shape that looks like long bananas that do not break apart when you flush.

Your poop should come out with ease and smell like super-ripe fruit. You barely need to wipe.

Type 3 is also rather good, and if you are close to type 5 and 6, it means diarrhea is coming.

Diarrhea also means you are not absorbing nutrients properly, and you are not getting enough nourishment through food.

What to do when stool is loose?

When your stool is too loose, soft, mushy, or liquidly, or in some cases, too frequent, you should talk to your doctor.

To firm up your stool, you need to follow the BRAT diet, which is the standard diarrhea diet [5]https://med.virginia.edu/ginutrition/wp-content/uploads/sites/199/2015/11/DuroArticle-June-07.pdf.

This diet stands for bananas, rice, apples (apple sauce) and toast or tea.

These foods will help you firm up the stool and get better bowel movements.

What to do when the stool is too hard?

If your stool is too hard or infrequent, you should also talk with your doctor. Consider going through a full thyroid panel.

In the meantime, add little magnesium to your diet.

Probiotics will help as well, as you might be constipated. You need some good bacteria in your gut to get healthier bowel movements.

For hard and infrequent stool, pears are a great way to get things moving.

Consume two pears per day. You can also practice yoga and abdominal massage.

Bowel Movements: Color

Last, but not least, color of your poop is an important factor in order to determine your overall health [6]https://www.mayoclinic.org/stool-color/expert-answers/faq-20058080.

Color matters. The healthy color of your stool is medium to dark brown color, which health experts often describe as “milk chocolate”.

With that in mind, here are colors that signalize something is not working properly.

  • Black stool is a sign of blood in the upper GI tract
  • Yellow and green color is a sign of an infection
  • Yellow and green color can also be a sign of a liver or gallbladder stress
  • Light colored stool, which can be gray, is a sign of a lack of bile, indicating bile duct obstruction
  • Red color signalizes bleeding in the lower intestinal tract, often caused by hemorrhoids

Keep in mind that if you eat certain foods and/or food dyes, the color of your stool may change, but that is only temporary.

Five other things you need to know about your stool

We talked how stool and poop determine how healthy you are. But you will be surprised to know some of these facts about feces.

For starters, a fecal transplant is an effective medical treatment.

It might seem crazy, but studies have shown that fecal transplantation can help you treat C.diff, a harmful bacteria that can proliferate in the intestines [7]https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1205037.

The transplantation involves taking a healthy person’s poop and putting in the patient’s GI tract.

We all think that food is what makes our feces, but the reality is that between 50 and 80 percent of our stool is made of bacteria living in the intestines.

Some of the bacteria in poop is still alive.

Plant fiber is what keeps your gut healthy.

Plant fiber, mostly cellulose, is what adds bulk to your poop. So, while you might think that meat will give you a bulkier poop, it is all thanks to plant fiber.

Speaking of cellulose, it is responsible for corn in poop. Many of us have seen the corn-kennel in poop, and this is one of the most amazing phenomena.

The outside of the kernel of corn is made of cellulose. And while we can digest the inside, the null makes it through the intestines.

Last, but not least, you will be surprised to know that your zip code determines your stool. People living in different areas have a different poop. And that is due to the specific diet of the area.

For example, people living in developing countries follow a fiber-heavy diet, and they have much denser and bulkier feces.

People following the Western diet, on another hand, consume foods low on fiber, and they have a softer stool that the colon has to push harder to get out.

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