Ok, probably not the best blog title, but now that I have your attention and curiosity less discuss human waste and how it can tell a story about your health! So what’s normal, what’s abnormal? Your stool can provide you information about your health! It can reveal signs of infection, digestive problems or even signs of cancer.
Normal stool consistency is roughly 75% water and the remainder is a combination of dead and live bacteria, mucus and fiber. Sounds disgusting right? If we talked more freely about it we would all recognize our own health problems and remedy these issues much quicker as we would seek treatment more proactively. Beans and nuts come out in your stool as a gel-like substance and since corn, oats and carrots are hard for our body to digest it may come out looking just like it went in.
So let’s talk about color! Color really does matter, some foods you eat will reflect in your stool. Reddish stool (not bloody) might be a sign of the beets you ate last night. Green stool is typically a sign you ARE eating lots of green leafy vegetables, which is a good thing! Certain medications might turn your stool white or clay-colored. But lookout for jet-black stool, this could be a harmless sign, like eating black licorice or it could be a warning sign of intestinal bleeding which can indicate a more serious health problem.
Shape is equally important! The ideal stool is all in one piece and moderately soft. If it is breaking apart in the toilet your fiber content is probably not ideal. Pebbly stool is a sign of constipation and pencil-thin stools, on the other hand can be a sign of rectal cancer. If you are regularly pebbly or pencil thin I would suggest seeking a physician’s consultation. Often times you can remedy this through diet, hydration and exercise.
We have all went in a public restroom at some point in our life and walked right back out because the smell was way too overwhelming! Pay attention to the odor you excrete! Stool is not supposed to smell pleasant but it shouldn’t knock you out either! Extremely strong odors that are persistent is often a sign of an infection, a strong odor could be a side effect of a stomach bug or parasite from swimming in a fresh water lake. It could also suggest a more serious digestive condition like Celiac or Crohn’s Disease or Colitis. Constant strong smelling stool is a sign you should closely monitor.
So what is the normal frequency for passing stool? Everyone’s normal is different. However, if we think about this logically and with common sense I would like to get the food out as quickly as I possibly can. I don’t want anything sitting around more than a day in my gut, longer than that certainly won’t bring about good outcomes. The key is consistency. If you are going every morning and all of a sudden you are now going only once a week and barely at that, you should see a red flag. Daily is a great habit to get your body into, if possible. The more fiber you eat the more regular you will be. We all know someone that takes an hour in the bathroom and others that seem to have a trap door. I will give the blue ribbon to the person with the trap door. The longer you sit on the toilet the more likely you will develop hemorrhoids or swollen blood vessels in and around the anus. For the person spending an hour in the bathroom you either need to put down the kindle or add a daily probiotic and consume more fibrous foods! Fiber comes from Fruit, Vegetables, Legumes, Grains, Nuts and Seeds. Eat them and eat them often!
Below is a list of foods that are VERY HIGH in fiber. Split Peas, Lentils, Black Beans, Lima Beans, Artichokes, Peas, Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Raspberries, Blackberries, Avocados, Pears, Bran Flakes, Whole-Wheat Pasta, Pearled barley, & Oatmeal.
So which is better, stool that floats or a stool that sinks? A stool that sinks is the WINNER! Floating stool is a sign you may have too much fat in your diet, or it could also be a sign of malabsorption, which is a condition your body cannot absorb enough fat or other nutrients for the food you are consuming, which may be a sign of celiac disease. So if your son or daughter leaves a floater in the toilet that you have to flush, you should immediately see they need less fat and more fiber in their diets, if it is common after a diet change, this might be a sign of a larger problem.
Your gut is full of bacteria! Which is essential in breaking down the food you eat; this bacteria releases gases as a byproduct from this digestive process. Your body absorbs some of those gases into your bloodstream that eventually you breathe out through your lungs. Which makes me wonder if an overabundance of gas in the blood stream results in bad breath? I believe that might be a topic for a future blog. My entire family takes daily probiotics. Why? Because taking a daily probiotic adds good bacteria to your gut and helps aid the digestive process. When your gut is happy, your body, mind and sole are as well!
“In order to be as healthy as you can be, educating yourself is the key”