Unless you’re the parent of a toddler who has just mastered “going potty,” poop is probably not a hot topic in your household. But the composition of what you deposit into the toilet has important implications for health.
Did you know the features of fecal matter–such as the size, color, shape, odor, and consistency indicate how well the gastrointestinal (GI) tract is functioning? Those same features also provide clues about how your body is (or isn’t) faring against threats of infection and more serious diseases like celiac disease, hepatitis, urinary tract infections, malabsorption disorders, inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatitis, and cancer.
To give you an idea of what healthy, normal stool looks like, check out the Bristol Stool Chart. The healthy range for fecal matter is of a consistency that is not too hard, not too soft, and mostly solid–as opposed to lumpy, pellet-like, or liquid. Normal stool color is in the light-to-medium brown range and is not offensively odorous. Also, bowel movements (BMs) should pass easily from your body to the toilet.
5 BMs that Require Medical Attention
Unless you are aware of dietary changes or a medication that could produce the following types of stool, it’s advisable to seek medical attention if you observe the following changes in BMs.
How Often Should You Go?
How Low Should You Go?
You can learn more about proper toilet position in this video:
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How will you start to assess the functioning of your gastrointestinal tract? Share in the comments below!
Mercola, J. “What You See in the Toilet Can Give You Valuable Insights into Your Health.” Accessed February 2015.
Monastyrsky, K. “Gut Sense: What Exactly Are Normal Stools?” Accessed February 2015.
Sikirov, D. “Comparison of Straining During Defecation in Three Positions: Results and Implications for Human Health.” Abstract. Digestive Diseases and Sciences 48, no. 7 (July 2003): 1201-5.
Step and Go. “Step and Go Ergonomically Correct Toilet Position.” Accessed February 2015.
Kyle Thompson [GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons