No one likes to talk about it, think about it, or look at it, but we all do it. Pooping isn’t the best conversation during meal-time, but it’s an important part of your digestion that’s often neglected.
Have you ever taken a good look at your poop? Well, the next time you do number two, be brave and sneak a peek – it can tell you wonders about your health! Here’s how.
SO WHAT EXACTLY IS POOP?
Before we dive into this not-so-glamorous topic, let’s first learn about what exactly poop is. What you see in the toilet bowl is a brownish oblong substance made up of undigested foods, water, bile and bacteria. In fact, almost a third of it is made of up dead bacteria that previously worked hard to digest food in your gut.
As part of the digestion process, gases like sulphur and methane are released, which produces a stinky smell. Fat, sugar and vegetables that are hard to digest can cause those bacteria to make more gas. That’s why your bathroom fills up with a bad stench after certain meals which contain more of those kinds of foods.
Some high-fibre foods may not be broken down completely during the digestive process. When this happens, they can appear in your poop. So, don’t be alarmed if you see foods like corn or oats in the toilet bowl after number two – it’s still healthy!
THE TYPES OF POOP
Poop can vary in colour, shape, amount, size, smell and texture; these characteristics tell whether your digestive system is healthy or not. Here’s a quick overview of the different types of poop and what it means:
1. Hard and separate lumps
If you don’t take enough fibre or drink enough fluids, your poop may be separated into hard lumps, which look or feel like nuts. You may be familiar with the term constipation – If you’re constipated, your body’s telling you to eat more fruits and vegetables, and to drink more fluids.
2. Sausage-shaped and lumpy
This may also mean that you’re constipated, although not as serious as the previous one. Even so, this is not healthy and your body is in need of more fibre and water.
3. Sausage-shaped and smooth and soft
This is the best example of a healthy poop – one that is shaped like a sausage, smooth and soft in texture. If your poop is like this, keep it up, your gut is doing great!
4. Soft blobs with clear-cut edges
This type of poop is also an indication of a healthy gut.
5. Sausage-shaped with cracks on the surface
This type of poop still falls under the normal range, but you might be a little constipated. Try to drink more water or other fluids.
6. Fluffy, mushy pieces with ragged edges
If you experience this type of poop, you’re close to having diarrhoea and need to take better care of your gut health.
7. All liquid with no solid pieces
This type of poop is diarrhoea. Diarrhoea can be caused by an infection, food intolerance or certain diseases such as celiac, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis and Chrohn’s disease. You should consult a doctor if you experience diarrhoea frequently.
8. Sticks to the side of the bowl and is soft
This could mean that your poop is too oily due to issues with fat absorption. You should see a doctor if this happens often.
This is the normal colour of poop – your red blood cells mixed together with bile gives poop its brownish colour.
Black poop can be due to internal bleeding, but vitamin supplements can also be a factor. Check with your doctor if you notice this.
Green poop isn’t a cause of concern if you’ve just eaten a load of green leafy vegetables. However, it can also mean that your food is moving too fast through your large intestine. Continue to monitor this and consult a doctor if it persists.
If your poop is yellow and foul-smelling, there could be an issue with fat absorption in your gut. Do seek medical advice if this happens for a while.
Light-coloured poop could mean that there’s something wrong with your bile production, and you should definitely get this checked by a doctor.
If you haven’t eaten red coloured foods like tomatoes, this could suggest that there’s blood in your poop, which may be caused by certain diseases. Be sure to consult a doctor if this happens.
YOUR POOP SCHEDULE
There’s no set number of times or time of day a person should poop. Most people have a poop clock, where they poop around the same time each day, with a similar frequency.
A few things can disrupt this pattern. Bacteria in cheese can slow down your digestion by affecting the bacteria in your colon. Beef and other meats that are difficult to digest can also clog up your gut and slow down the digestive process.
On the flip side, alcohol, coffee and spicy foods can make you poop more frequently. Caffeine and the sugars in alcohol promote gut movement in your colon. Spicy peppers contain capsaicin, which shortens your digestive process. Capsaicin doesn’t usually get digested, and so, it causes a burning sensation as it gets passed out.
Apart from food, you’ll be surprised to know that mood can also impact your poop clock. Your gut is lined with hormones, neurotransmitters and receptors from your mouth all the way to your butt. So, if you’re feeling stressed out, you could potentially face difficulties in the bathroom.
THE BOWEL TRANSIT TIME TEST
If you’d like to monitor how long it takes for food to move through your gut, take this test! It can help you to find the source of your problem if you’re suffering from diarrhoea, constipation, bloating, abdominal pain or any other bowel issue.
Step 1: You’ll need a “food marker”. You can use either three cooked beets, four activate charcoal pills or two spoonful’s of chlorophyll syrup.
Step 2: Consume your “food marker” in one go, just after you’ve done a poop. Record the exact time you ate (or drank) it.
Step 3: Now wait for the next time you need to do number two, and check to see if your “food marker” has been passed out. If you ate beets, your poop would be red. Look out for black poop if you took activated charcoal, and green poop if you drank chlorophyll syrup.
Step 4: When you’ve identified your “food marker”, record the exact time you passed it out. And there you have it – the time from when you ate it to when it got passed out is your transit time!