The Scoop on Poop - Part 1 💩
Updated: Apr 8
Let’s dive into a topic that almost no one talks about - poop. Pooping is actually the final stage of digestion. Our digestive system has three main functions: digest, absorb, and eliminate. Elimination is pooping. It turns out, the status of your poop is a powerful indicator of your overall health.
First, what is “regular” or “healthy” poop?
Frequency: In general, we should all be having at least one, fully formed, complete bowel movement every day. We may even have 2 or even 3, essentially one for each meal. Our poop should be easy to pass - no reading material or smartphone required. When you strain, pressure can build up inside your colon and cause inflammation possibly leading to diverticulosis.
Color: Healthy BMs should be light brown in color with no noticeable food bits, indicating that you have strong stomach acid and efficient digestion. If you noticed bright red blood on or in your poop that indicates some bleeding at the end of your GI tract. Beets and food coloring can make your poop red, so consider your diet. The color to really watch out for is black. Black poops that are also sticky, like the poop sticks onto the toilet bowl, are a bad sign and indicated bleeding in your digestive system. If you do notice blood in your stool or a big change in the consistency of your poops with texture, color, or frequency then check in with your doctor.
Size and Consistency: BMs should be long, log-like pieces - an S shape is fine too. They should not be hard little marbles or ping pong balls. Nor should they be unformed or watery.
Red Flags: Consult your doctor if you experience ongoing diarrhea, sudden changes in bowel habits, BMs at night, or blood in your BMs.
Take Away: If these details don’t describe your typical experience, you are not “regular”. If you have to take over-the-counter medication or fiber-in-a-canister every day to get these results, you are better off but are still not “regular”. We really should be pooping every day.
Poop is like the kitchen trash. Not pooping every day is like letting the kitchen trash build-up, but never taking it out. Things start to spill over and get messy and smelly. Harmful bacteria flourish as your poop continues to ferment. Waste products continue to irritate and perhaps poison your gut lining. Worst of all, your body will eventually begin to reabsorb the trash. Yes, it’s like eating the kitchen trash all over again. Your poop is the primary exit pathway for waste in your body. A significant part of your body’s waste is toxins, things like pesticides, drugs, chemicals, plastic, heavy metals, damaged cholesterol, and excess estrogen.
As you might imagine there is a balance for transit time. An optimal balance allows for optimal absorption of vitamins, micronutrients, and water. When things move too slowly you experience constipation, and when they move too quickly you may not be getting all the nutrients from your food.