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  • Writer's pictureJoan Rothchild Hardin

The Lowdown on Poop

Whether you care to think about it or not, all creatures – including us – eat and poop. The quality of that poop tells a lot about the state of our gut and overall health so it’s actually worth taking a look and not just flushing as quickly as possible.

Doctors at the Bristol Royal Infirmary Hospital in England found patients reluctant to talk about their poop so they cleverly came up with  the Bristol Stool Form Scale. Patients could now provide valuable information about their health by simply pointing to their stool type on the chart without feeling excessively embarrassed.

The chart illustrates the seven stool types: Type 1 These stools resemble hard nuts or lumps, have spent the longest in the colon and are often very difficult to pass. People with Type 1 stools are very constipated. Type 2 These stools are sausage-shaped but still have visible lumps. They are somewhat difficult to pass. People with Type 2 stools are slightly constipated. Type 3 These stools are also sausage-shaped and better formed than type 2 but with visible segments. They are normal stools. Type 4 These well-formed stools are shaped like a smooth sausage or snake and are easy to pass.  These stools are ideal, indicating a healthy colon. Type 5 Although these stools are easy to pass, they are comprised of many soft blobs with clear edges, the result of having inadequate fiber in the diet. Type 6 These stools are soft, fluffy and mushy with ragged edges, indicating the presence of inflammation in the gut. Type 7 These stools are almost entirely liquid with no solid pieces, indicating more serious inflammation than Type 6. (See Gut Symbiosis and Dysbiosis and Inflammation for information on how inflammation is harmful to the body.)

A healthy gut allows stools to glide out smoothly without discomfort or straining. Needing to read a chapter or two of War and Peace while sitting on the toilet indicates your digestion isn’t working properly. In fact, a bowel movement should happen soon after you sit down so you wouldn’t need to do any reading there at all. This brings to mind a story I heard from someone years ago: As a child, she thought Readers Digest was actually called Readers, Digest because the only place she ever saw it was in her grandparents’ bathroom. We’re designed to poop after every meal – so 1-3 times a day. If you’re pooping once a week, you’ve got a lot of fecal matter backed up in your colon,  probably causing discomfort and even pain. Good elimination is a sign of good colon health.

Storing excrement indicates something is wrong. Symptoms of constipation include headaches, skin problems, bad breath, low energy and generally feeling unwell. Toxins the body was trying to eliminate get re-absorbed when feces sit backed up in your colon. A diet rich in whole foods and adequate filtered water helps keep the gut healthy and prevents constipation. The Standard American Diet (aptly referred at as SAD) does not promote good gut health. Healthy Poop A well formed stool is the result of proper consumption and digestion. Eating a diet low in fiber and high in processed foods will produce malformed poop. Healthy stools contain no undigested food parts – the presence of undigested parts usually means you chewed your food too quickly or have insufficient acid for the breakdown of food parts. Many Americans are hooked on antacids which actually cause a depletion of stomach acids. Try drinking warm lemon water in the morning instead. Floaters Floaters indicate a healthy amount of fiber and essential fatty acids in your diet. Most of us don’t consume enough healthy fats, causing stools to sink immediately or be malformed. And remember, not all fats are bad. Healthy fats are essential for us. (More on good versus bad fats in a moment.) So take a look at your poop lying there in the toilet. If it’s not perfect, work on improving your diet. (The Alternative Daily, 2013)

Healthy versus Unhealthy Fats

Contrary to what we’re being brainwashed to believe, our bodies actually require fats in order to sustain health.  It’s the quality and quantity of the fats that are important. We require essential fatty acids (the EFAs), which our bodies are unable to produce so must get their from our food or high quality supplements. EFAs help with cellular development and the formation of healthy cell membranes. They also block tumor formation; aid in the development and function of the brain and nervous system; help regulate proper thyroid and adrenal activity; play a role in thinning the blood to prevent clots that lead to heart attack and stroke; have anti-inflammatory qualities; regulate blood pressure, immune responses and liver function; break down cholesterol; and prevent skin problems, dandruff, split nails and brittle hair. (Ward, 2008) (FitDay, 2013) Saturated fats and trans fats – the bad fats – raise blood cholesterol concentrations, contributing to clogged arteries that block the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the heart and brain. Don’t make the mistake of equating dietary fat with body fat. It’s eating excess calories that causes the flab. (Ward, 2008)

To close, I recommend a lovely little book called Everyone Poops.

This wonderful, humorous book was written for young children but we all can learn something from reading it. It’s part biology textbook, part sociological treatise and a celebration of a very natural process. There’s the elephant with its enormous poop and bugs with poop the size of tiny specks. REFERENCES The Alternative Daily. (2013). The Bristol Poop Chart: Which of the 7 Types of Bowel Movements Are You? See FitDay. (2013). How Essential Fatty Acids Benefit The Body. See Ward, E.M. (2008). Fat Facts: Good Fats vs. Bad Fats – The right fats are actually good for you. WebMD. See © Copyright 2014 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.

DISCLAIMER:  Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Comments submitted prior to 8/25/2021

What great information on bowel movements and health! Elimination is often overlooked as an important indicator of health in all age groups. I always stress the importance of regular quality BMs and what they should look, feel and smell like. Keeping track of bowel habits may help with early detection of infection or disease as well as, safeguard health and extend life. Great article!

Denice Hilty, D.C.


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