23 January 2023
Did you know that there is such a thing as a perfect poo?
Well .....at least an optimal type of poo for good health?
Ever wondered….., is yours normal?
Pooping or passing a bowel movement, is something that everyone does, yet it is really spoken about. Unless you're a naturopath/Nutritionist .......We love talking about it, because it can be a sign of the health of a person's body.
Everyone does it, yet it can be yucky, smelly, embarrassing and for many a huge source of pain, discomfort, as well as anxiety.
However, paying attention to your poo and bowel movements can be a pretty good indicator of the functioning of your insides.
The characteristics of frequency, colour, smell & texture can all be monitored. Likewise, changes to any of these characteristics can indicate serious health conditions that need to be addressed asap.
The Perfect/Healthy Poo
Before we discuss what an unhealthy poo or bowel movement looks like. Let's first look at what a perfect/healthy poo looks like.
Let's start with the bristol stool chart.
The Bristol Stool Chart is a tool used to describe the shapes and types of stools. It is also used to diagnose diarrhoea, constipation and Irritable bowel syndrome.
Is there such a thing as a perfect/healthy poo?
There sure is! It's known as a 4 on the Bristol Stool Chart.
This particular poo is smooth, slips out easily, holds form in the toilet and doesn't leave mess on the toilet bowl. On the scale it is described as a sausage or snake and should be around the size of a banana. Occassionally it may look like soft like soft serve ice-cream which is fine.
There is another type of healthy poo. This one is represented on the Bristol stool chart as a number 3, or corn on the cob. There is some cracking which may indicate not enough water intake. It is still however, a sausage shape, holds form and easy to slip out. This is also considered normal on the chart.
The number 1 and number 2 poo's on the chart, are more indicative of constipation.
Number 1 is often described as small hard round lumps. Or rabbit poo in my clinic.
If you are experiencing this type of poo then there is likely straining involved and a sign of extreme constipation. This can lead to other health conditions if not treated. To avoid these lumps, make sure you’re getting enough fibre and drinking enough water.
Number 2 is slightly better. Described as lumpy and stuck together, like a bunch of grapes.
Both number 1 and 2 would benefit from fibre and water.
Number 5 is described as soft blobs with clear-cut edges, think chicken nuggets.
This number isn't too bad however does show that some improvement can be made by including more fibre.
6 (porridge) and 7 (gravy) are more watery, typically in the category of diarrhoea.
Number 6 is a clear warning from your body that something is going on. Described on the chart as mushy consistency with ragged edges (mild diarrhoea). This often comes with a feeling of urgency and the possibility of incontinence. Stress can trigger this type of poo.
Then there is number 7, the one you want to avoid at all costs. Diarrhoea. Not solid at all, just liquid. This type is a big red flag that something is going on and should be investigated. Prolonged diarrhoea can cause dehydration which over the long-term is serious.
Let's talk colour:
The colour of our poo can be influenced by what we eat. Ever eaten beetroot and then got a shock when you looked in the toilet a few hours later?
The classic colour is brown. This is the colour it should be.
Likewise green poo can be due to the food you eat including green leafy vegetables. Think spinach. Green poo can also be due to antibiotics, parasites or bacteria. If your poo moves too fast through you, the bile pigment can’t break down properly and your poop doesn’t have time to change from green to brown.
If you are experiencing a black poo, then this is a concern. This may indicate that there is dried blood in your intestines. Hemorrhoids can also cause black poo or other times it may be due to IBD. Typically black poo can mean some form of gastro bleeding and should be investigated asap.
If your poo is red then this is often due to the presence of blood. (Or sometimes beetroot if you've eaten that too). Seek further investigations if your poo is red and you haven't eaten beets.
White or Clay Poop
This colour is of serious concern. White or clay coloured poo can indicate lack of bile excreted by the liver. It could mean a blocked bile duct or liver disease. Some pharmaceuticals can also cause white poos too, so make sure you check in with your GP.
Yellow poo can be an indication that something is going on with your liver or gallbladder. It may indicate that your digestive system isn't functioning properly to digest nutrients. Chronic pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer or celiac disease are other possibilities. Foul smelling and yellow poo also point towards malabsorption issues.
Now you are more informed on the colours of poo to look out for. So take a peek.
As mentioned above, poo's are a good measure of what is going on in the body. However before panicking, think back to what you recently ate, foods can also change the colour of your poo too. If you haven't eaten any coloured foods then best to check in with your GP or health practitioner.
How often should you go?
There is alot of debate around about this. How many times a day is a good amount. 1? 2? Generally, 1-2 times per day with the number 4 poo from the bristol chart daily. This indicates that everything is functioning optimally.
Alot of people have regular bowel movements at the same time of the day. No need to worry if this pattern changes slightly however, especially if you have been on a recent flight or holiday. If you have severe pain, aren't going at all, or spending your time rushing to the toilet or have number 7's then there may be something going and best to check in with your GP or health practitioner.
Despite what some may believe of their poo, all poo smells. It shouldn’t be an overly offensive smell that hangs around the room. This may indicate a food intolerance, dysbiosis (bacterial imbalance) or other health issue. We are aiming for a natural odour which will pass quickly.
How do naturopaths use stool charts?
We use them firstly as a guide to see what is going on in the body. Secondly, they can be used as a measurement tool to track progress once a patient is on a healing/treatment protocol.
Ideally we want to be passing a stool at least every day which is complete and easy to pass with as little clean up as possible and minimal odour.
If anything that I have mentioned has sparked your interest in investigating more about your digestive system, then reach out via email. I'd love to have a chat about how working together can help get your bowel movements back on track and back to optimal health.