Poop: a great indicator of how healthy you eat

Ah, poo. It’s a natural part of life. It’s as natural as birth, as important as breathing, and as healthy as home-grown vegetables. Defecating is a detoxification method your body uses to expel waste, so your poo can tell you a lot about how much nutrients and junk you’re fueling yourself with.

What Makes Us Poop?

Several things can make you poop depending on who you are and what your body is and isn’t used to. A night at a Mexican grill may give some people the runs if spicy foods and beans are not commonly included in their diet.

Tip: soak your beans in water before cooking them to avoid excess flatulence.

But for all of us, fiber is what really stirs our bowels. Fiber is indigestible, meaning our body doesn’t absorb it that well. Yet, it’s imperative to a balanced diet because it makes us feel full to the point that we don’t overeat and consume excess calories. There’s a reason we can eat maybe 5 or 6 cookies at a time but not 5 or 6 apples.

Our diet is composed of both soluble and insoluble fiber. The soluble fiber comes from foods such as beans and nuts and is mainly accountable for the formation of the logs in your toilet. You’ll notice that sometimes you’ll see whole foods in your stool like corn that seem to not have a scratch on them. Corn contains insoluble fibers that are even harder to digest and don’t just dissolve like soluble fibers do.

Based on what makes you poop alone, you can conclude that a diet rich in plants, vegetables, and other sources of fiber make us poop.

How Often Should We Poop?

Pooping is a product of us eating, so we really should be defecating (almost) as often as we are eating. However three times a week is also considered norma, according to LiveScience. Everyday Health recommends that we poop every 1-3 days, or else we’re at risk for constipation. When we’re constipated, that’s essentially your body telling you, “okay dude, you’re backed up so stop eating so much junk.”

Constipation occurs from a lack of fiber and/or water in someone’s diet, and it makes defecating incredibly difficult if done at all. Pooping is supposed to be easy to pass and just like peeing: effortless and straight to the point.

Constipation medicines like Motrin normally do the trick, but since pooping is a product of eating, wouldn’t it make more sense to change the way you eat instead?

What’s my poop supposed to look like?

Did you know that your feces can be classified under different types? Gut Sense elaborately explains and depicts these varying structures in the Bristol Stool Form scale illustration.

(provided by Wikipedia)

If you’re going on a low-carb diet, you might experience Type 1 feces. Type 1 feces is the hardest and is the best representation of constipation. These types of feces can even result in bleeding from the anus. Not pretty.

Effects: Anal rectal bleeding.

Type 2 feces are a bit lumpy and long. It’s thick in diameter as well, which is dangerous for the anal canal since it’s forced to push out something so wide. Gut Sense tells us that a person suffering from this type of sickness and pain most likely will have irritable bowel syndrome, which occurs when stools are smothering the walls of the small intestines. This is a very dangerous form of poo—so dangerous that adding supplemental fiber isn’t recommended because the fiber doesn’t have anywhere to go.

Effects: Rupture of the intestine and anal canal tearing.

Type 3 stools have a similar shape, but they’ve also got cracks along the surface—meaning they’re a little bit less rigid and tough. This kind of feces tells us that we’re having more frequent bowel movements. However, it’s still not a good look. It still indicates that you will be straining to get this puppy out.

Effects: Same as Type 2.

Type 4 has the similar snake/oblong shape but it’s smoother and much softer. We have finally passed the threshold of normality.

Type 5 also can be classified as normal and can arise if you’re defecating more than one time a day. This type of stool is soft and circular.

Type 6 is when we start crossing danger zone. It’s fluffy and soft but mushy like applesauce. Gut Sense still considers it normal, but it may pose a challenge to control the movements sometimes, especially when there isn’t a bathroom nearby.

Type 7 is diarrhea. Your poo has absolutely no structure and comes out like water.

Effects: dehydration, dehydration-induced death.

But the shape of your stools isn’t the only thing you should consider. Mayo Clinic elaborates on the different colors of stool and when you should worry.

In short, brown and green stools are normal. Yellow, white, black, and red stools is when you should go see the doctor. Here’s a chart provided by MayoClinic.org that also tells you what you’re eating that contributes to these colors.

Pooping is a natural process that we all should strive to do more often (but not too often). From the shape to the color, our feces are created by what we eat, and therefore can tell us if our diet needs a bit of adjusting. In a sense, it can be your personal doctor. So next time you want a quick, free health check-up, release yourself into your toilet and schedule an appointment with your poop.