Yes, I went there and I’m serious! (And don’t you sometimes wonder anyway?)
You already know that your poop can reflect your physical and sometimes even emotional, health.
You may get constipation or have diarrhea when you eat something that “doesn’t agree with you,” or when you’re super-nervous about something.
And what about fiber and water? If you’re not getting enough, it’ll probably show in your poop. What about the all-important gut microbes? If they’re not happy, it’ll probably show in your poop.
Here’s a question for you:
Did you know there is an “official” standard for poop? I mean a university-created chart! One that is used to help diagnose conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)? Yep, who knew?
Meet the Bristol Stool Scale
The Bristol Stool Scale was created at the University of Bristol in the UK back in 1997.
You can see the chart here.
The scale breaks down types of poop into seven categories ranging from type 1 which is very constipated, to type 7 which is diarrhea:
1 – Separate hard lumps (very constipated).
2 – Lumpy and sausage-like (slightly constipated).
3 – Sausage shaped with cracks in the surface (normal)
4 – Smooth, soft sausage (normal).
5 – Soft blobs with clear-cut edges (lacking fiber).
6 – Mushy consistency with ragged edges (inflammation).
7 – Liquid consistency with no solid pieces (inflammation).
Other factors to consider
You probably guessed that the shapes described in the Bristol Stool Scale are not the only thing to consider for poop health.
Think about how often you go. At least once per day and up to 3 times per day is pretty good. Less than one, or more than three can mean there is something not quite right.
What about how hard you have to try to go? It should be as effortless as possible.
And the color? It should be brown from the bile that breaks down the fats you ingest.
And if it’s green after a day of massive veggies or red after that large glass of beet juice, you’re just fine.
But if you see an abnormal color, like red or even black, that you can’t explain based on what you ate or drank in the last day or two, you probably want to get that checked out.
What do you do when you have “imperfect” poo?
The first thing to consider is how imperfect it is, and how often it is like that? Everyone once in a while, has imperfect bowel movements and that’s ok.
If you know you need to get eat more fiber or drink more water, then increase that. Fiber and water keep everything moving through your digestive system.
If you haven’t had enough probiotic foods, then try getting more of them.
If you’re super-stressed, then try deep breathing, meditating or having a warm bath.
Oh, and don’t forget the two most basic pieces of nutrition advice:
- First, eat a variety of nutrient-dense, minimally processed foods, including a lot of fruits & veggies (and their “fibrous” skins, wherever possible). The fiber in these is not only helpful for pushing food through your digestive system but they also feed those millions of amazing helpful critters that live there (your friendly gut microbes.)
- The second piece of advice is to eat slowly and mindfully, chewing thoroughly. This is probably the hardest for most of us. Life can be so crazy and fast-paced that the last thing we think about is slowing down while eating.
These are good habits for anyone and everyone, even when you have perfect poop!
Of course, long-term issues might require a more thorough review with a qualified health care practitioner. Don’t suffer from poop issues for too long before seeking help.