What Does Your Poop Say About Your Health?
Are you in discomfort all day if you don’t poop? Or, do you have difficulty pooping while traveling? As it turns out, your poop can say a lot about your health. Keeping track of the color, consistency, and frequency of your bowel movements is important to prevent or treat any major ailments.
What is healthy poop?
When you eat, the process of digestion breaks food down into nutrients for your body to absorb. These nutrients are absorbed by the capillaries (tiny blood vessels) in the intestines. Whatever isn’t digested, is disposed of by your colon as unwanted excreta or stool.
A healthy bowel movement is an indication of good health. But when it becomes erratic and you suffer from constipation or diarrhea, or the color of your poop changes, it’s time for a health check-up.
How do you know if your poop is healthy?
The Bristol stool chart can be your go-to guide to know if your poop is healthy.
This chart comprises seven types of poop. The healthiest texture is 3 and 4. If your poop looks like 1 or 2, you suffer from constipation, and if it is 5, 6 or 7, it shows signs of a gut infection, diarrhea, or other chronic conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), hemorrhoids, or colon cancer.
If your poop floats, it’s generally because of trapped gas and is of no major concern. It indicates that fats and oils in your diet are not being absorbed properly. But if this happens consistently, or if it is a recent development and persists for more than a few weeks, it may warrant medical attention.
Usually, the color of your poop is determined by the food you have eaten and bile juice (digestive juice secreted in the liver for digestion of fats). In normal conditions, the color is brown. If not, it might be a health concern.
|Green||Speedy digestion. No need to worry|
|Yellow, greasy||Undigested fat in the stool due to malabsorption. You should also check whether you suffer from celiac disease or any other abnormality, which is interfering with the absorption of fat. Consumption of certain medicines for weight loss also leads to excessive loss of fat in stools|
|Dark yellow||May indicate problems with the liver|
|Black||Generally happens if you consume iron supplements. If not, it may signal internal bleeding in the stomach|
|Light yellow, white, or clay||Obstruction in the bile duct|
|Bright red||Generally happens if you have consumed red foods such as berries or beetroot. If not, it indicates bleeding in the colon due to ulcers or hemorrhoids (piles)|
The third parameter is the smell. It generally depends on the type of diet. Stool is supposed to have an unpleasant smell as it contains waste material and bacteria thrive in it, too. If you increase red meat consumption, your poop is likely to have a bad odor. Meat takes a longer time to digest and is not easy on your gut health.
It’s alright if your poop has bad odor sometimes, but if the foul smell persists, see a doctor.
|Embrace lifestyle practices such as learning how to manage stress, getting quality sleep, meditation, and following a routine.||Say no to a sedentary lifestyle. Get up and move; exercise aids faster digestion.|
|Consume high-fibre foods like fruits and leafy vegetables. These foods facilitate digestion by acting as binding agents.||Don’t eat foods like refined sugar, which cause inflammation of the gut and promote growth of “bad bacteria”.|
|Eat foods rich in probiotics such as curd, kimchi, and yogurt as they help maintain gut health.||Avoid too much carbs and meat.|
|Drink at least eight glasses of water every day.||Avoid alcohol and caffeine as they dehydrate the intestines. Avoid regular use of harsh laxatives that relieve constipation as they tend to cause dependency.|
What is a “normal” poop schedule?
There is no set rule, as bowel movements vary from person to person. But yes, the quality of food you eat, the amount of exercise you undertake, and your stress levels have an impact on your poop schedule. Bowel movements up to three times a week are considered normal. Anything less is considered constipation.
Food that is hard to digest, such as milk-based products, slows down the system. Alcohol and coffee, on the other hand, increase the frequency of pooping. Lack of physical activity is known to cause the slowing down of bowel movements.
Some people also experience frequent urges to poop when nervous. This is due to the effect of stress hormone on the movement of the intestine. Some pass stool every second day, while few do so twice a day. You needn’t worry if you have a different poop schedule — your body has its natural rhythm.
Also read: Constipation: When Should You Be Concerned
When should you see a doctor?
1. If you experience any pain or feel the need to strain while passing stool — it might indicate a colonic motility dysfunction or hemorrhoids.
2. If your poop consistently breaks into pieces or if it has blood in it — it may be an indication of IBS, ulceration in the colon, piles, or fissures.
3. If you suffer from diarrhea frequently, you might have ulcerative colitis or certain food sensitivity caused by gluten or dairy products.
4. If you don’t pass stool for more than three days, or do so more than thrice a day, you might need medical attention.
You can maintain a robust bowel movement by eating right, drinking a lot of water, keeping fit, and reducing stress levels. Your poop is a reliable indicator of your overall health.
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