You can learn a lot about your health from poop. These 11 facts about poop will help you judge just how healthy you are and what you can do about it.
Poop is mostly water
Poop is 75 percent water. The other 25 percent of poop is fiber, bacteria, cells and mucus. Soluble fiber in the diet is essential for healthy bowel movements. The fiber found in vegetables, fruit, beans and nuts is ideal for creating the solid part of healthy poop. Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, as found in corn, carrots and oats, are difficult to digest and often show up in stools looking much the same as they did when they entered the body.
Blood makes poop brown
Ever wonder what makes poop brown? It turns out, it’s blood cells. When red blood cells are broken down by the intestines, they get a sort of rusting treatment which turns them brown. If you have poop that is dark brown, it shows you are getting enough iron in your diet from leafy greens, beans, red meat and spinach.
You can learn a lot from the shape of your poop
Peering down into the toilet to examine the shape of your poop can tell you a lot about your health. Healthy poop has an S shape and looks like a log. Poop that is broken into pieces is a sign of constipation. Poop that is thin can be a sign of a narrowing of the rectum, which could indicate a serious health problem like rectal cancer.
Floating poop is bad news
If your poop floats, it could be a sign that your body is not digesting food properly. Floating stools are high in fat, which means you may have a problem absorbing nutrients. Floating stools may also mean you have a lot of trapped gas in the intestines, which could be caused by a block in the intestines or a lack of beneficial bacteria in the gut. Chronically floating stool is associated with celiac disease or chronic pancreatitis.
Modern toilets may cause cancer
The position in which you poop may be more important than you think. The natural poop position is a squat, as demonstrated by toddlers and babies. But passing stool in a seated position can lead to higher instances of intestinal problems, such as hemorrhoids, constipation, trapped feces and even colon cancer. To counteract these problems, many health enthusiasts have embraced the Squatty Potty, which is a toilet attachment that encourages a squatting position while sitting on the toilet.
You can tell a lot from the smell of your poop
Poop never smells good, but an unusually strong odor could indicate a problem. Illnesses, viral infections, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and celiac disease cause strong-smelling poop. Extra-stinky poop usually means you are not digesting food properly.
The color of your poop can tell you a lot too:
Green poop could mean you are eating a lot of greens, or that you are not digesting food properly. Eating blueberries or food containing green dye can also turn your poop green.
Red poop could indicate that you have blood in your stool. Or, you may have eaten red-colored foods.
Yellow or greasy poop can result if you have a problem absorbing nutrients. It can also occur if you eat too many grains.
Black poop can be caused from eating too many blueberries or foods containing black dye. It can also be an indication of internal bleeding.
Passing gas is healthy
Most of us try to suppress passing gas in public, but for the most part, passing gas is a sign of health. When your body breaks down food, gas is released as a byproduct of your food being digested. The American College of Gastroenterology states that passing gas up to 18 times a day is normal and healthy. More than that could be a sign of a problem, however.
Long bathroom sessions could mean trouble
If it takes you a long time to poop, it could be a problem. Long bathroom sessions lead to a higher risk of hemorrhoids. Even if you have no existing complications, sitting on the toilet for long periods places unusual pressure on the anus, causing swelling in the area. If you find yourself taking a long time to poop, it could be a lack of soluble fiber causing the problem. Try eating more beans and nuts until passing a stool becomes easier.
Digestion takes a while
According to studies, it can take up to 72 hours to fully digest food and eliminate it out the other end. This may be one reason why food poisoning can take several days to show up.
Diarrhea has many causes
Diarrhea is caused by stool passing too quickly through the intestine. Usually, water is pulled out of the stool in the large intestine, which gives it the natural firm texture. Loose stools are often caused by viral infections, foodborne illness, allergies, lactose intolerance and digestive problems.
You can learn a lot from your poop, which is why one of the first tests any doctor orders is a stool sample. It may be gross, but poop can be a barometer for your overall health. Armed with what to look for, you can proactively watch your health, not only by what goes into your body, but also by what comes out.
Brenda is a writer, chef and health nut with many years of writing experience in the alternative health industry. She specializes in health news, healthy living, alternative treatments, and healthy recipes. She loves educating others about sustainable, healthy living. Brenda lives in Texas with her husband and two daughters.