This word evokes many different emotions and sentiments depending on who is reading it. For many people, it is a gross word that brings up thoughts of private bathroom moments that we would rather not share. For me, it is one of the most exciting words and areas I get to talk about. Poop is a valuable daily tool we have to assess our health — a report card, if you will. Once you learn to speak the language of your poop, I assure you that it will become an exciting area for you as well!
What is your Poop Telling You?
In order to communicate with our poop we need to look at several different areas: frequency, texture, color, floating/sinking, and consistency. Let’s break these down.
- Frequency. How often are you going to the bathroom? This is critical because a daily bowel movement means your body is removing toxins properly. Any longer than three days without a bowel movement is considered constipation. We do not want that! At the other extreme, if you are going too frequently and are leaning more on the side of diarrhea, you may want to look into potential food allergies or get checked out by your doctor or functional practitioner.
- Texture. You can check out the Bristol Stool Chart to get a visual as to what your poop should look like. Ideally you want to have a nicely formed poop that doesn’t break apart when you flush it.
- Color. NEWS FLASH: Your poop should be brown! I think most of us know this. There can be variations, but generally you want your poop to be on the brown spectrum. Some colors to watch out for are black (could indicate internal bleeding) and yellow (might be an issue with your gallbladder).
- Floating or Sinking. Ideally you want your poop to sink to the bottom of the toilet. If it’s floating, this could indicate some fat malabsorption. Taking enzymes or assessing levels of stomach acid are a great place to start in correcting this imbalance.
- Consistency. There shouldn’t be any visible particles of food in your poop. This is an easy way to check that your food is being broken down and you are getting access to all the important nutrients from your food. If you can see pieces of food in your poop, you might want to investigate further. Enzymes are a great place to start. Eating more cooked vegetables vs. raw can also help improve digestive efficiency.
What Else Do I Need to Know?
While the above points are the main elements to consider when communicating with your poop, these are a few additional considerations.
- Smell. If you can clear out a small house with the odor of your poop, you might want to think about getting it analyzed. Putrid smelling poop often indicates a bacterial imbalance or bacterial pathogen. A stool test would be a great next step!
- Bloating. If you have terrible gas throughout the day or gas that builds up as the day goes on, this could be your body alerting you to a digestive imbalance. Consider a breath test to assess for Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) or food sensitivity testing to see if your body has trouble breaking down certain foods.
- Mucus in the stool. This could indicate a food allergy or sensitivity. If it doesn’t resolve in a couple days, get it looked into.
How to measure your poop health
Bottom line: to ensure your gut is healthy and your poop is optimal, make sure you can check these things off your list:
- Pooping daily
- Your poop is well formed and doesn’t break apart when you flush it
- Your poop sinks to the bottom of the toilet (doesn’t float)
- You don’t experience painful bloating
- You don’t have visible pieces of food in your poop
If you can say "Yes" to all of these, then you are on your way to optimal digestive health.
If you need a little extra support in any of these areas, you can take the digestion quiz on my website for personalized recommendations of how to start fixing your gut health today.
Photo courtesy Sarah Greenfield