Tuesday, May 12, 2009

What's Your Poo Telling You?

After our interesting poo discussion in class, I wanted to share a little bit from Dr. Stool I copied a few questions and answers from the website below.

The book "What's Your Poo Telling You" by Anish Sheth, M.D & Josh Richman is a handy little book to let you know what is going on. There is even a little Poo log book to keep record!

I know this sounds gross and I think it is pretty funny, but it is so important. I recommend looking at what came out of you before flushing it away because it can tell you a lot about your digestion and your health.



I have been trying to go to the bathroom daily and when I do it comes out like pebbles. Sometimes I sit on the toilet and nothing comes out. This has been going on for about 3 months now. What is going on here?

Dr. Stool:

Changes in bowel habits can occur for one of two reasons- 1) a drastic change in your diet/lifestyle or 2) development of a gastrointestinal disorder. Pebble poo reflects a lack of stool cohesion caused by a deficiency in dietary fiber. Fiber lends bulk to stool but is also the glue that causes poo to stick together and emerge as a single log. Any persistent change in bowel habits (say, for weeks or months) should prompt a visit to your doctor. Dietary modification is usually the first step towards restoring stool normalcy, but some pebble pooers may require a colonoscopy or other testing to rule out colon cancer (thankfully, this is usually NOT the problem).


I have been 'irregular' now for some time. I have tried high fiber diets, plenty of exercise, 'Fibercon' but still have a constipated existance. Got any suggestions?

Dr. Stool:

Sorry to hear about your losing battle with constipation. While it may be a surprise to some, just increasing your fiber intake can actually make some constipation worse. Sure, it "bulks" up the stool, but unless you consume enough water, your stool may actually become harder and more difficult to pass

I would make sure to drink 6-8 glasses of water a day in addition to your high fiber diet and see if that helps. If not, the next step would be to visit your local GI specialist to discuss other testing and possible use of laxatives (medicines that speed up the movement of the intestines).

I pulled this information, so you know what a healthy BM is:

Everybody poops- what your poop is trying to tell you
By Julia Kalish
Your poop is an important indicator of your overall health!

What is Poop?

Have you ever wondered what poop actually is? About 75% of your average poop is water, although this will vary depending on the person. Water is absorbed out of fecal material as it passes through the large intestine, so the longer you take to "go," the drier your poop will be.

The remaining 25% is comprised of dead bacteria that helped us digest our food, living bacteria, protein, undigested food residue (also known as fiber), waste material from food, cellular linings, fats, cholesterol, salts, protein, and substances released from the liver and the intestines (such as mucus).

What Makes a Healthy Poop?

Your feces are a clear indicator of the health of your gastrointestinal tract. Dr. Mehmet Oz says, "At the end of the day you can analyze your body really effectively by looking at what comes out of your body."

So what should you look for? A healthy poop will be:

  • Golden brown, which is due to pigments formed by the bacteria in the gut and bile from the liver. You want to make sure the color is normal because that tells you a lot about what's going on in your gastrointestinal tract (more on color below).
  • Formed into one long shape. Dr. Michael Levitt, an Australian colorectal surgeon who has written a book called The Bowel Book, says that the healthy human stool resembles the shape and consistency (although not the same color) of an unripe banana. Dr. Oz says " You don't want [pieces]." Some experts disagree, saying they don't have to be well- formed. Patrick Donovan, N.D., a naturopath in Seattle, WA says "Stools don't have to be well- formed logs. They can disperse in the toilet water; they can break down."
  • Nearly odorless.
  • About 1 to 2 inches in diameter and 18 inches long.

What About Other Colors?

Sometimes we don't see that "golden guru," and are faced with something else instead. Here's some insight into what those other colors might mean.

  • Black: Feces can be black if dried blood is present in it from internal bleeding in the upper digestive tract. See a doctor if this is the case.
  • Very Dark Brown: Drinking wine the night before may result in dark brown poop. This could also be the result of eating too much salt, or not enough vegetables.
  • Yellow: One condition that can cause yellow poop is an infection known as giardia, a dangerous infection that can spread to others. Another cause of yellow poop may be a condition known as Gilbert's syndrome. See your doctor if you are consistently seeing yellow poop.
  • Green: Babies often have green poop when they are given food for the first time. Children may have green or blue poop from certain illnesses or from ingesting food colorings. Adults may also have green poop if they eat large amounts of green, leafy vegetables or if they eat large amounts of foods with green food coloring. Light green poop may indicate excessive sugar in the diet. Green feces can also occur with diarrhea if bile salts pass through the intestine unchanged. Again, see a doctor if you are concerned!
  • White/pale: Feces can appear white or pale after drinking barium sulfate, which is often given to patients getting an X-ray of the digestive tract. A white or pale stool may also be an indication of problems with the gallbladder or liver.
  • Red: Bright red in the feces may be indicative of active bleeding, possibly the result of hemorrhoids. A magenta color may result form eating intense red food coloring, or red foods such as beets.

How Often Should I Poop?

Ah - the big question! Experts disagree on how often a person should poop. The National Institute for Diabetes, Kidney, and Digestive Diseases says three times a week is normal and healthy for some people. According to Ayurveda, an ancient Indian healing system, once a day is ideal. Other experts advocate once or twice a day, while still others say a person should have a bowel movement within two to three hours of a major meal- -or two to three times a day. So you can see that it really depends on who you talk to. My personal opinion is that you above all want to be regular in your pooping schedule, and that one poop a day is ideal.

When someone poops four times a day or more and the poop has a liquid consistency, this is referred to as diarrhea. When someone poops less than two or three days a week and the poop is hard, dry, and difficult to pass, this is known as constipation.