Yes, I’m writing about poop. Two reasons: 1. the mature part of me finds poop fascinating and an important indicator of overall health, especially of the GI tract. Being a “health and fitness” person, I take my poop seriously. 2. I’m actually an 8-year old masquerading in a 25-year old body and I find poop unwaveringly hilarious. (Steve and Ryan are going to start wondering why I keep giggling over here.)
Couple of facts to start off this post:
- Poop is about 75% water. The rest is a combination of fiber, dead and live bacteria, other cells (or byproducts of cell breakdown that’s normal for the body) and mucus (and you thought that was just in your nose…)
- Soluble fiber, the kind found in beans, oats and vegetables/fruits, is easily broken down by the digestion system and forms a gel-like substance that helps give poop it’s shape and ease of passing.
- Insoluble fiber, like that found in corn and carrots, is more difficult to digest which is why foods like corn make a second appearance in the toilet.
How to Use Poop for a Health Check-up:
1. Color- usually some shade of brown (due to the bile produced by the liver; bile helps break down fats.) though the color can vary a bit depending on what you’ve eaten. Beets can turn poop an interesting shade of brownish-magenta, lots of leafy greens, like kale, can add a dark forest green to the poop. Ingesting a lot of food coloring can also alter the color of your poop (so that 36 oz sour green apple slurpee might be why your poop is green; not the fact that you’re turning into the Hulk. Darn!).
However, if you haven’t eaten any of these foods lately and your poop is a light grey or reddish color, might want to get that checked out. Jet-black poop = bad news bears. Unless you’re taking iron supplements or really really like black licorice, black, sticky tar-like poop could potentially mean you’re bleeding in your lower GI tract.
2. Shape- log-like and sinks to the bottom = good poop!
This: The Poop Chart is an excellent poop chart. She is also hilarious (I giggled my way through reading the explanations). It also explains what the different shapes/sizes could mean.
3. Smell- all poop stinks, sorry. That’s normal. However if it is STAAAAANNNNKY!!
(plants in the house start dying, your eyes start watering and even the dog won’t come near the bathroom) Then that could be a sign of an infection/stomach virus that needs to get treated. Basically, if it stinks way worse then usual, probably something is up.
4. Frequency- from what I read, there is no rule for how often one should go. Know what is normal for you, whether that be 1, 2 or 3 times a day or 1 time every two days. As long as you’re not experiencing discomfort, you’re probably ok. However, if you notice a deviation (less or more) from your normal schedule examine how much you’ve been eating, how much you’ve been exercises and even your stress/sleep levels as all of these contribute to you poop-transit time. Exercise promotes regularity, just throwing that out there.
What about constipation/diarrhea? Constipation happens when your food is in your GI too long and most of the water gets reabsorbed by the colon. While this can happen occasionally due to low water intake, if this happens frequently, you might want to check your diet and ensure you’re eating enough fiber and enough food overall. If you’re gassy, bloated and have pain/fever, I’d recommend getting checked with a doc as something a little more sinister might be in play.
Diarrhea is the opposite; food shoots through your intestines so fast that barely any water is reabsorbed (which is why it’s runny). Diarrhea can be caused by a virus or a food borne illness and if it lasts for several days, you’ll want to head over to you doctor. It may also be caused by a food allergy/intolerance so an elimination diet (taking out one food at a time, like gluten or milk) might be in order to see if that clears it up. Diarrhea can be dangerous as it dehydrates the body and, since the food is on super-speed through your GI, you’re not absorbing the nutrients you need.
This site, Dr. Stool, was rather informative and answers the age-old question of the “never-ending wipe.” I also found info at everydayhealth.com (I typed in poop and a plethora of articles came up.)
In short, poop is important part of our everyday lives and is an excellent indicator of our overall health. Pay attention to poop!
(I’m going to see how many times I can use good ol’ Mad Eye…)