Poop is the new pee when it comes to the medical community. Dr. Oz owes his success to talking about it, it’s not just for the Germans anymore, and it even has cute little plushies dedicated to it. Poop is where it’s at ya’ll.
When I was younger, poop was so taboo I used to drive all the way home from work just to take care of my business. I never admitted that I pooped and basically lived by the B.S. idea that women don’t poop. This was even more difficult considering that I suffered from some pretty frustrating digestive inconsistencies, and never knew when the ol’ poop urge would hit. I was miserable.
Because I’m so stubborn, I decided I needed to turn the anger, fear, and shame I felt towards my poop habits into something more positive. I started investigating poop, making jokes about it, and speaking openly with anyone who would listen about my pooping proclivities. Once I removed the stigma of poop (because God knows we all do it!!!) I regained my poo power. No one could shame me because I took away the shame myself. With all the talk of slut-shaming, we should talk about a bigger issue that effects the entire poopulation: Poop Shaming. Down with Poop Shaming! Take back the toilet!
Why You Should Care About Your Poop
In the midst of my newly found poop power and freedom, I unintentionally learned a lot about how poop can be a great ally in gauging your health and the effect of your diet. Given that an estimated 70% of your immune system is in your small intestine, it’s one of the first areas to show signs of deficiencies in regards to your health. Not only should you feel free to make poop jokes and openly tell people, “I’m dropping the Browns off at the Super Bowl” without shame, but you should be keeping track of the state of your poop.
To give you a better idea of what’s healthy or not, here is the handy dandy Bristol Scale of different types of poop (Type 4 is the “perfect” and ideal poop):
Sorry I’m not sorry if you weren’t ready for that graphic. It’s time you faced your fears and learned about your poop! Your health and happiness depends on it! Get it? DEPENDS (brand of adult diapers)? Lolzzz…
Anyhoo, here are some explanations behind (ha! Get it? BEHIND? Like as in butts? Ok I’ll stop now…) your poop look, shape, consistency, color, and smell:
This is the most ideal poop shape! Congrats if your poop looks like a concord brown banana, soft, and easy to pass because you just won the perfect poo trophy!
Most likely a sign of dehydration or not getting enough water and/or fiber.
Lumpy and Hard Sausage
If you’ve got a lumpy and hard yet sausage-shaped poo, chances are you’re dehydrated, not getting enough fiber, taking certain medications that cause constipation, or eating foods you’re allergic or intolerant to. Poop becomes harder and more dry the longer it remains in your intestine, because your intestine begins reabsorbing fluids from poop the longer it sits in there. So most likely you’re not pooping frequently enough because of one or more of the issues listed.
Hard Itty Bitties
Think deer or rabbit pellets, but for humans. This could be a sign of dehydration and/or lack of fiber. A diet that could be causing this is something like the Atkins’ Diet, which is high on protein and low on fruits, veggies, and grains.
Liquid and uncontrollable, this is the most dreaded type of poop on the poop scale. This could be the result of many things, such as food poisoning, food intolerance/allergy, bacterial or viral infection, or sudden and drastic increase of fiber in the diet.
This happens because the body attempts to quickly remove whatever toxic/offending invader by releasing water into the intestines to force poop embarrassingly out of your body at the most inopportune times. If you alternate between constipation and diarrhea, chances are you’re eating something your body doesn’t agree with. Or, you may have some sort of digestive disorder such as IBS, Crohn’s, Gluten Intolerance, or Celiac.
Poop is the one area in American culture where fatter is considered better. Thin poops could be a warning sign of colon cancer or colon polyps. If there is a mass blocking the exit of your poop, the result will be a Paris Hilton-like poop. If your poop is consistently like this, you might want to get checked out by a professional. Chances are they’ll give you a colonoscopy to rule out cancer.
If your poop floats in the water like a child’s toy boat, chances are you’re either really gassy or have high fat content in your poop. Healthy poop should slowly sink to the bottom of the bowl. If you have a lot of gas issues, again it could be a result of your diet. If you have a high fat content, it could be a result of diet, medication, and/or malabsorption issues.
Congrats! Again, you have healthy poop and should give yourself a congratulatory pat on the butt.
On the good side, this might mean you’re eating a lot of leafy greens. On the bad side it could be a sign of your poop passing too quickly through your body. This is because your bile doesn’t have enough time to break down before exiting (could be a sign of Crohn’s Disease).
On the other hand, it could also be a sign that you’ve eaten something with a lot of blue food coloring, like when I ate about a pound of blue licorice and was shocked by green poop surprise.
Light colored, white or gray
Could be a sign of a lack of bile in your stool and/or a sign of fat malabsorption. A disorder known for causing grey/white poop is Hepatitis, which directly affects your liver (your greatest fat-filtering organ). Another cause of gray/light-colored poop could be from certain medications, antacids, and/or anti-diarrhea drugs such as Pepto-Bismol or Kaopectate.
A sign that there’s a problem with bile production or an issue with absorbing fats (celiac disease, gallbladder dysfunction, pancreatis). This can also be caused because of too many iron supplements or again, anti-diarrhea medications.
This is a huge red flag if you’re not taking anti-diarrhea medications, specifically because it’s a sign of bleeding in the upper intestinal tract, such as the stomach. BLACK FLAG. Go see a doctor because this could be a sign of ulcers or tumors.
However, medications like Pepto are known to cause a temporary blackening of the tongue and/or stool. So if it only happens after drinking Pepto, you are probably fine. Iron supplements could also be the culprit.
Bright, red blood is a symptom of bleeding in the lower area of your intestinal tract, such as the lower intestine or your bumhole (think hemorrhoids). It could also be a sign that you’ve eaten way too many beets, which I have also done and mistakenly thought I was dying.
Look, it’s poop. It’s not going to smell like freshly baked cookies. But it also shouldn’t send everyone in your household running for the hills, nor should the smell linger for long periods of time. A common cause of stinky poop is bacterial fermentation of food in your intestines that produces foul-smelling sulfide compounds.
And yet another reason to reduce your meat intake: Protein contains high levels of those sulfides, which cause stinkier toots and poops. That’s why cat (carnivores) poop makes you want to vomit, where cow (grassitarian) poop just smells kinda like stinky grass.
Certain medications, food, and drinks (like coffee), can also temporarily affect the smell of your poop.
Everybody poops and everybody poops differently, therefore there is no exact definition of “perfect” poop frequency. According to doctors, normal poop frequency could be anywhere from 3x per day to 3x per week. Anything less than 3x per week would be considered constipation and anything more than 3x per day could be considered diarrhea. All I know is that when I’m eating healthy and drinking a lot of water, I can have 1-2 healthy deposits to the porcelain bank per day.
So the lesson here is this:
- Don’t be ashamed that you poop. Everyone and everything does it.
- Befriend and observe your poop, it will teach you more than you can imagine.
- While the eyes are the windows into the soul, poop is a window into your health and diet.
- A lot of the time, simple diet changes can improve your poop, as long as your problems aren’t the result of a more serious digestive disorder.
- Your happiest poop can be achieved through a diet high in fruits and veggies, low in meat products, and with plenty of water. Also, regular exercise has a positive impact on your bowels as well.
If you read this whole post, you can now consider yourself to be a poop aficionado!