What does your poop say about your health? This may sound like a joke, but you can actually learn a lot about your health from your daily doo.
If your poop is…Hard
It may mean: You’re constipated—but you probably already knew that. “However, some people assume that if they go to the bathroom every day then they’re not constipated, but if your stool is consistently hard and comes out in pieces rather than a soft, single piece that passes without much effort, you may be constipated,” Sheth says. The most common culprit is inadequate fiber intake. The average U.S. adult only downs about 15 grams of fiber a day—a fraction of the recommended 25 grams per day for women and 38 grams per day for men. Read labels and keep a food journal for a week to track how much fiber you’re actually taking in. If you’re falling short, bulk up your diet with additional fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds.
If your poop is…Black or bright red
It may mean: Something in your G.I. tract is bleeding. “Most of the time blood in the stool is due to something as benign as hemorrhoids,” Sheth says. Since it could also be due to an ulcer in the stomach or colon cancer, it’s crucial to alert your doctor any time you notice blood in the toilet bowl. Certain over-the-counter medications, such as Pepto-Bismol, can turn your stool black. It occurs when sulfur in your digestive tract combines with bismuth, the drug’s active ingredient, and forms bismuth sulfide, a black-colored substance. The discoloration is temporary and harmless and may linger several days after you stop popping Pepto.
If your poop is…Very loose, but not diarrhea
It may mean: You have celiac disease. Although it only affects about 1% of the population, it’s estimated that 83% of Americans who have celiac disease don’t know they have it, according to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness. Signs in your stool may be one of the major—and possibly the only—indications you have it. With celiac disease, your body is unable to tolerate gluten, a protein in wheat, rye, and barley. Eating gluten destroys villi (the tiny, fingerlike protrusions lining your small intestines) and you’re unable to absorb nutrients from the foods you eat. This contributes to the loose stools you could experience several times a day.
If your poop…Smells like sulfur or eggs and you have diarrhea
It may mean: You could have giardia. The parasite tends to hang out in fresh water, so if you went swimming in a lake, have gone camping, or drank unpurified water recently, you may have picked up the bug along the way. The issue isn’t always as obvious as you may think. You could have diarrhea for weeks or even months, but otherwise feel fine. Your doctor can run a stool sample test to diagnose it, and certain antibiotics can treat it.
How To Get In The Good Toilet Habit?
When digestion isn’t working properly it can affect our entire wellbeing. Therefore, it makes good sense to put some habits into place to support our digestion and give us happy, healthy poop!
Here are a few easy tips that we suggest to support your gut:
HYDRATE. Unless you have a renal or cardiovascular issue that limits your water intake, most adults need to be drinking, at least, 68oz (2L) of fluid each day. This helps to soften the stool and enables fibre to work properly so that poop can move through your insides and evacuate easily.
USE A GOOD QUALITY PROBIOTIC. The friendly probiotic bacteria in our gut play a big role in digestion, immune function and keeping our intestines healthy. However, pesticides, antibiotics and many other factors affect our probiotic populations. A probiotic supplement can help to replenish our friendly gut bacteria and keep our digestive system happy!
FIT IN ENOUGH FIBER. There are two types of fiber that we need in our diet; insoluble fiber is the ‘roughage’ that bulks up our stools and ‘sweeps’ through our insides. Soluble fiber absorbs water and softens the stool. Getting enough of both types of fiber is important for making perfect poop!
SQUAT IT. Before artificial toilets were created, humans once squatted to void their bowels. This position naturally compresses the bowel walls and assists with gentle pressure to move bowel motions through. While we don’t suggest that pooping in the wild again is by any means a solution, propping your legs on a small stool under your toilet seat can help to mimic this natural process.