Is My Poop Normal?

Is My Poop Normal?

Okay, isn’t this something you’ve always wondered about, just a little?

Your poop is a great way to determine the state of your physical and emotional health.  Sure, it’s normal to get the occasional constipation or diarrhea (especially while traveling), or when you eat something that doesn’t agree with you.  It’s also normal for your bowels to act up when you’re really nervous or anxious too (this is a great indication that there is a strong gut-brain connection).

But what if you’re constantly constipated, or if you see a lot of undigested food in your stool?  And what if you need to go to the bathroom within 30 minutes of eating every meal?  There are some indications in the frequency, quality and type of poop you have that could mean something is off with your health.

Did you know there is an “official” standard for poop? Yep, a university-quality standard chart has been created to help us figure out the state of our digestion!  Kind of neat, right?

The Bristol Stool Scale was created at the prestigious University of Bristol in the UK in 1997.

You can see the chart here.

 

There are 7 different categories of poop types to help people figure out if they need to attend to their health.

1 – Separate hard lumps (very constipated).

2 – Lumpy and sausage-like (slightly constipated).

3 – Sausage shaped with cracks in the surface (normal)

4 – Smooth, soft sausage (normal).

5 – Soft blobs with clear-cut edges (lacking fiber).

6 – Mushy consistency with ragged edges (inflammation).

7 – Liquid consistency with no solid pieces (inflammation).

 

Now, the shapes described in the Bristol Stool Scale aren’t the only things to consider for poop health.  Some other factors include how often you’re going (1-3 times per day is normal); how hard you need to strain is another important factor – pooping should be pretty effortless if things are working as they should.

Color should also be considered.  Normal poop is golden to dark brown in color; this color comes from bile that’s secreted to help digest fats.  Light grey or clay colored poop indicates you have a bile production problem, maybe even gallbladder issues.  If your poop is green after eating a lot of green veggies within the past 12-24 hours, that’s okay; red is normal after eating a few beets, too.

But, an abnormal color, especially for multiple days in a row, should be checked out by a medical professional.

Normal transit time is 12-18 hours per meal, depending on its size and what it was made of.  If you’re curious about your own transit time, eat 1-2 whole red beets for one meal and wait to see how long it takes for the red stool to show up (you could notice reddish urine an hour or two after eating beets – don’t worry, that’s normal too).  Anything that’s greatly outside of the 12-18-hour window indicates an issue and should be addressed.

The two most basic pieces of nutritional advice for healthy poop are:

  1. Eat a variety of nutrient-dense, minimally processed foods, including lots of fruits and vegetables. Eat the skins too, if possible, for the extra fiber content.  Fiber is important to help keep transit time normal and to feed the gut microbiome to keep it healthy.
  2. Eat slowly, mindfully and with purpose, chewing each bite thoroughly. Undigested food particles related to poor stomach acid from stress or poor eating habits cause inflammation in the gut and can lead to irritable bowel syndrome or leaky gut and allergies.

 

If your poop doesn’t seem normal to you based on the Bristol Stool Chart or this blog information, you probably want to talk to a health care professional right away.  Attending to intestinal issues as soon as possible makes it much faster to reverse any conditions and helps to reduce the risk of allergies and colon cancer.

 

References:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bristol_stool_scale
http://www.precisionnutrition.com/poop-health

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