I was about 10 years old when I experienced something really weird. I had just gone “number 2,” and I had what looked like green poop. I remember telling my brother that I had green poop, because I was very concerned. Instead of making me feel better, he made fun of me. I guess that is what all big brothers do best. He told my favorite babysitter that I had green poop, and I was mortified. I felt like I was the only one in the whole world who ever had green poop. Little did I know that my green poop was a result of eating lots of leafy green veggies!
Talking about bathroom habits may make many squeamish or embarrassed. Going “number 2” and farting is just something people DO NOT discuss with each other. (Unless you are friends with a dietitian). The truth is, by taking a closer look at your stool can give you clues about how to improve your digestive and overall health. We should all take a second look in the toilet before we flush!
What your poo is telling you:
How often do you visit the bathroom to have a bowel movement? Over 65% of American’s are constipated. Constipation is a serious problem. One that can lead to serious health problems like colon cancer, hemorrhoids, diverticulosis. What can cause constipation? Not enough fiber, lack of physical activity, milk, ignoring the urge to have a bowel movement, dehydration, medications. Are you having fewer than 3 bowel movements per week? Does it take you longer than 5 minutes to use the bathroom? Is your stool lumpy or hard? Do you strain during bowel movements? To prevent constipation be sure to get at least 25 grams of fiber per day (beans, whole grains, fruits and vegetables), drink at 8 cups of water and exercise 30 minuets per day-the most common causes of constipation are diet and lack of exercise. We do not need more medications to cure our constipation problems.
When your poop hits the water is should make a “swoosh” sound. The perfect poo is S-shaped and all bound together, not in small little pieces. Your poo should sink most of the way. If it is floating, that might be a sign of high fat content and could be a result of malabsorption of fat.
Shape and Size:
Is your poo hard and lumpy? This may be a sign of not enough fiber in your diet. Is your stool pencil thin? This could be a sign of colon cancer, because as the tumor gets larger the diameter of the colon gets smaller creating a pencil thin shaped stool. Are you experiencing pellet-like shaped stools? This may be the result of diverticulosis. Diverticulosis is when the lining of the colon forms little out-pouchings, as well as the narrowing of the diameter of the colon. The result of this is small pellet like poops. Another sign of diverticulosis is the feeling of not getting everything out even after just going to the bathroom.
For most people their stool will smell. But if your stool is extremely smelly, floating and has fat in it (with an oily sheen to it), then that might be something you should be concerned about. This could be related to pancreatic cancer, or malabsorption problems like celiac disease or cystic fibrosis. If you are experiencing diarrhea with a very unpleasant smell, this could be due to an infection.
Red stool can be due to rectal cancer, lower GI bleed, diverticulosis, or hemorrhoids. Or maybe you are a fan of red beets? Green stool can be due to consumption of leafy green veggies, Crohn’s disease or Iron supplements or antibiotic use. Yellow stool can be caused by gallbladder disfunction or infection. White stool can be due to fat malabsorption. Black stool can be due to an upper GI bleed
It is very normal to pass gas! We should not be afraid to. It is a very normal thing to do. This is the result of the bacteria breaking down the food in your colon. Most people fart around 10-18 times per day according to the American College of Gastroenterology. Vegans definitely fart more!
For more information on what your stool is telling you, please email colleen with any questions or concerns! Colleen@nutritiontranslator.com