Have you ever given a glance at your poop before flushing it? Probably, not! We mostly do it every day, but never realize that the look and color of our poop can indicate a lot of things about our health. Yes! Our pooping habits can tell a lot about whether we are leading a healthy lifestyle or not. Poop is our body’s natural way of eliminating all the unusable wastes and toxins. Hence, when it doesn’t appear normal, it is safe to assume that something is wrong inside our body.
The process of digestion involves many organs and aspects of your body including enzymes, blood flow, hormones, and more. When any of these organs malfunction, it directly affects your digestive system and will reflect in your poop. This article will put some highlights on how the look and color of your poop can determine your health status. You will also get to know what a poop chart is, how often you should poop, and what the signs of healthy poop are. Let’s have a look.
What Are the Signs of Healthy Poop?
A poop is considered to be healthy if it appears to be all connected in one long, smooth, and soft consistency with an “S” shape. Such type of poop forms when your body is fully hydrated and you are eating sufficient amounts of fiber. However, a poop that is smooth but fragmented into smaller pieces is also not something to worry about, providing it is not causing any discomfort. This type of poop is also considered a healthy poop. A healthy poop should be a medium to dark brown in color. Passing black poop, white poop, or poop that appears to be too yellow may indicate a serious problem.
The unpleasant smell of poop is not a bad sign. Your poop has a foul smell because it contains wastes and toxins that your body needs to draw out. These toxins contain bacteria that are present in the intestinal lining. Well, there is no specific kind of smell healthy poop should have. Its smell is always bad, but poop with a very bad smell that is different from your usual poop can indicate that something serious is occurring within your gut. If this unusual foul smell persists for several days, you should consult your doctor. The doctor may perform a colonoscopy to diagnose the problem.
Researchers at the Bristol Royal Infirmary hospital in Bristol, England have created a visual guide for stools known as the Bristol Stool Form Scale or BSF scale. Doctors use this poop chart as a base to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy poops. This scale, which was developed in the 1990’s, help patients openly discuss their problem with their doctor without getting embarrassed. On the other hand, doctors can use this scale to find the patient’s typical poop and diagnose what may be causing the problem.
A poop that is considered unhealthy usually falls into categories 1-2 (indicating constipation) or categories 6-7 (indicating diarrhea). The categories 3-5, especially 4, are considered to be normal or healthy poops.
According to The Bristol Stool Scale, the 7 types of poop are:
- Separate, hard to pass lumps, like nuts
- Lumpy, sausage-shaped stools
- Sausage-shaped stools with cracks on the surface
- Smooth and soft sausage-shaped poops
- Easy to pass soft blobs with clear-cut edges
- Mushy poop (fluffy pieces with ragged edges)
- Watery stool with no solid pieces
How to Poop Properly
Sitting in a squatting position on the toilet is the best way to poop properly. When you sit this way, the defecation becomes easier and you can easily pass the stools. Thousands of years ago, when there were no modern toilets, squatting was the only way to pass stools. With the increased adaptation to the modern toilet, ailments such as appendicitis, constipation, and hemorrhoids have also increased. According to some research, our bathroom posture plays a great role in preventing such ailments. Thus, you must poop in a squatting position if you want to do it properly.
How Often Should You Poop?
The number of times that you should pass poop in a day varies from person-to-person. Hence, there is no specific number that is considered to be healthy or normal. However, according to most experts, you should pass stools at least three or more times a week. Passing stools once or twice a day is considered normal. Passing stool every day is also considered normal if you are not experiencing any discomfort. In general, things are considered normal if you are keeping a consistent routine of your bowel movements. This way, when something goes wrong in your body, you can detect it at an early phase.
What Does it Mean When Your Poop Is Green?
A dark green poop mainly occurs due to the changes made in your diet. For example, if you have just switched to a high-kale diet or eating more of dark green veggies, then you may have green poop. Green poop can also occur due to:
- An underlying medical condition
- A bacterial infection
- A recent medical procedure
What makes your poop brown in color is the mix of dead red blood cells (RBCs) and bacterial waste in your bowels. The bile juice in your gut usually has a yellowish-green color, but the bacteria present in the intestines will add color to the bile juice making it brown. The same bacteria also perform vital body functions, like helping you to absorb the nutrients from your food.
In most cases, your stool changes its color when your food isn’t spending sufficient time in your digestive tract. For instance, when you have diarrhea, the contents of your intestines move too quickly out of your body that the bacteria do not get enough time to give your stool its characteristic brown color. If you are not consuming sufficient amounts of fiber, it can cause the waste to move out quickly.
Again, if you are having dark green poop, it can be due to dietary changes. Dark green leafy vegetables contain a lot of chlorophyll that can turn the color of your poop green. Some foods also contain synthetic food colorings that do not get properly processed, leaving a colorful residue in your stool.
What Does Your Poop Color Say About Your Health?
Black poop or blood in poop may indicate internal bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract. Black stools can also be a result of certain medications and supplements. If you are consuming too much black licorice, it can also result in black stools. However, if you are passing black, tarry stools, you must consult your doctor immediately as it can be a serious health issue.
White, gray, or pale poop may indicate a bile deficiency, which suggests serious health issues such as pancreatic disorders, cirrhosis, hepatitis, or a blocked bile duct. Taking antacids may also lead to white poop. However, if you are not sure about the reason, call your physician immediately.
Purple or red poop can be common if you have eaten a lot of dark-colored vegetables like beetroots. However, if you have not eaten anything that can cause your poop to change its color, then you should observe how many days it lasts and call your doctor if it still persists.
Passing an orange poop can be caused by a number of reasons. If you eat foods that are high in beta-carotene and vitamin A, it can cause an orange poop. Certain supplements can also cause your poop to have an orange hue. It can also be a symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Some underlying diseases such as Crohn’s disease, gallstones, and short bowel syndrome can also cause orange poop.
Poop that is grayish or yellowish in color indicates that it is getting filled with mucus. This poop color suggests a problem with the gallbladder or liver. A liver problem is more likely to be the cause of the grayish or yellowish tint in your poop because the liver produces bile, which is naturally yellow in color.
While these are some of the common health issues that can give the characteristic color of your poop, you should not jump to any conclusions right away. You should see your doctor as soon as you experience an abnormal change in the color of your stools or if there is blood in your poop, as it may indicate serious health issues such as liver disease, gallbladder problem, gut parasites, bleeding, and so on.
What Are the Foods That Make You Poop?
- Kiwis: Kiwis contain a lot of fructose that can cause gas. In fact, 1 cup of kiwi contains 5 grams of fiber that are enough to make you poop.
- Kefir: It is a fermented dairy drink packed with good bacteria called probiotics. In fact, kefir has 10 times more good strains of bacteria than yogurt. It has been found that probiotics can soften stools, ease constipation, and even increase the frequency of bowel movements.
- Almonds: Almonds are rich in protein, heart-healthy fats, and fiber. However, its high magnesium content excites our gut. Magnesium helps stools move easily through the intestines by neutralizing stomach acid.
- Black beans: Just 1 cup of black beans contains 15 grams of fiber, as well as potassium and magnesium that can lead to a smoother running digestive system.
- Prunes: Prunes are age-old constipation remedy known for its high fiber content. Just 1 cup of prunes contains 6 grams of fiber, which allows easy bowel movements. They also contain dihydroxyphenyl isatin and sorbitol, both of which have laxative effects. Prunes are also rich in potassium, which prevents diarrhea.
- Leafy greens: Dark leafy greens that contain high chlorophyll such as kale, spinach, and Swiss chard are packed with vital nutrients that promote easy bowel movement. A cup of Swiss chard contains about 4 grams of fiber along with magnesium to help the colon contract and make you poop smoothly.
- Wheat Bran: Studies have shown that wheat bran can improve digestion and relieve constipation. One cup of wheat bran contains a whopping 25 grams of fiber, which is very good for your digestive health and of course, your poop.
- Raspberries: Raspberries are rich in fiber. Just 1 cup of raspberries contains 8 grams of fiber, which helps food move smoothly through the digestive system.
- Chia Seeds: Chia seeds are also a good source of fiber and any food that is rich in this nutrient can help you poop. An ounce of chia seeds contains 10 grams of fiber.
- Full-Fat Milk: Studies have shown that consuming a sufficient amount of calcium from dairy products like milk can cause you to poop out more fat.
Is Your Newborn’s Poop Normal?
The color, odor, and texture of your newborn's poop are different from others. Moreover, they change in hue, frequency, and consistency, too. Thus, it becomes confusing for moms to know whether their baby's poop is normal or not. Whether the newborn poop is healthy or not depends on whether you are formula feeding or breastfeeding. The following is a quick guide to help you better understand your newborn's poop:
1) First few days: During the first few days, your baby releases black or greenish poop. The greasy, tar-like poop of your newborn is referred to as the "meconium". You will see the first poop of your newborn within 24 hours from birth. This poop does not contain any food. Instead, it is made up of the contents your baby has collected in his intestines while in utero such as old blood cells, skin cells, and amniotic fluid.
Two to four days after the birth of your newborn, your baby's poop tends to be green and less sticky than meconium. After this point, the type of food you will be feeding to your baby will determine the color and texture of poop.
2) Breastfed poop: Breastfed baby poop is considered healthy when it is mustard yellow, brown, or green in color with a pasty or seedy texture. You will be surprised to know that your baby’s poop has a sweet smell, which is definitely different from what you normally experience. A breastfed newborn baby normally fills the diaper at least five times a day.
3) Formula-fed poop: Formula-fed newborn poop is yellowish-brown to brown in color. Its texture resembles a pudding or nut butter. A formula-fed newborn baby normally fills the diaper 3 to 4 times a day, and the poop smells more like regular poop.