From smiling poo emojis, to poop cafes, to turd charts that go viral, excrement is having a moment. But for many, the question remains: Should you actually care about poop health?
Our answer: Yes! Bowel movements can either signal that you’re doing great, or suggest health challenges before other symptoms arise. In this article, 6 things to pay attention to when it comes to your poo.
Sure, you’ve seen those poop charts that make their rounds on Facebook.
You’ve laughed at the ridiculous smiling turds. Or funny poo GIFs.
Maybe you even chuckled at the idea of a poop café, currently one of the hottest food trends in Russia and East Asia (it’s already made its way to Tornoto, too).
Toilet-shaped dishes and poop emojis aside:
Should we actually care about poop health?
Your poo can say a lot about you.
Good-looking poop can indicate that your health and fitness is where it should be. For instance, it can tell you:
Your core muscles are strong.
Your gastrointestinal system is pumping nicely.
You’re getting plenty of fiber and other nutrients.
Your hormones are happy.
You aren’t overly stressed.
Your intestinal flora are balanced and thriving.
If your poo isn’t looking so great, it might tell you something important. For instance, less-than-stellar poo might say things like:
You may need to improve your nutrition.
You may be stressed and anxious.
You may need to drink more water.
You may have a food intolerance.
You may need more daily activity to help things move along better.
You may have a health issue that’s standing between you and the way you want to look and feel.
Your poo is a clue.
In Precision Nutrition Coaching, we don’t talk doody on the first date. But we do get to it eventually.
Because our in-house Precision Nutrition coaches (as well as Precision Nutrition Certified coaches) know:
Digestive health says a lot about overall health.
If you’re feeling low-energy or sluggish; if you’re having trouble losing weight, feeling good, and/or getting in shape, your poo can help us get to the, ahem, bottom of things. (Sorry.)
First things first: Take a look at your poo.
Make like a toddler and peek into the toilet.
Check out the chart below and answer honestly:
What is your poo quality like most of the time?
This chart is based on the Bristol Stool Scale, a tool developed at the University of Bristol to help patients talk more easily about their poo with their doctors.
As you can see, type 4 poo is what you want to shoot for. Types 3 and 5 are reasonably good, while types 1, 2, 6, and 7 shout, “Needs improvement”.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
How often are you going?
One to three bowel movements per day = ideal.
How does it feel?
Assuming you didn’t eat spicy street meat last night, bowel movements should be quick and painless. They shouldn’t require straining, a panicked run to the toilet, or sitting long enough to do the entire New York Times crossword.
What color is it?
Healthy poo is brown. The color comes from bile, which emulsifies dietary fat and helps us digest it. However, you may notice some normal day-to-day changes, like green poo after eating leafy greens, or red poo after eating beets.
How does it smell?
It’s never going to smell like roses, but extremely foul-smelling poo can point to underlying issues.
Does it sink or float?
Healthy poo may do either, but this offers hints as to the fat (float) to fiber (sink) ratio of your diet.
Of course, poo will vary a bit from day to day. One day of rabbit raisins or post-burrito shenanigans doesn’t mean there’s something horribly wrong with you.
You’re looking for the long-term trend — what’s common for you.
Taking the answers to all of these questions into account, you should have a good sense for where your poo falls on the health scale.
6 things your poo could be trying to tell you.
If your poo is zipping along just fine, as sleek as an otter and as regular as a Swiss watch, great.
If your poo could use a little… im-poo-vement (sorry again)… read on. It might be a cry for help.
The good news:
Many of these issues can be fixed (or at least improved) with better nutrition and more consistent health habits.
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