Yep, we’re going there. No one really likes to talk about poo – it's embarrassing, smelly (that’s actually a good sign, but more on that later) and downright awkward to chat about. However, like it or not, it's something we all do and is an indicator as to what's going on within your body, how well it digests food, and it can also inform you if there's something off.
Poo, or bowel movements (BMs), is your body’s natural way of getting rid of what’s left after it has absorbed all the nutrients it needs from the food you eat. We’ve researched into the right size, shape, colour and consistency of your poo, to let you know what your poo says about you. Trust us, you'll want to read on!
Different types of poop and what they mean
There’s actually a chart for this – the Bristol Stool Chart was developed by experts at the University of Bristol to allow you to measure the right consistency that your poo should be (1). The types of poo are as follows:
Type 1 stool: Separate hard lumps, like pebbles (hard to pass)
Type 2 stool: Sausage-shaped but lumpy
Type 3 stool: Like a sausage but with cracks on the surface
Type 4 stool: Like a sausage or snake, smooth and soft
Type 5 stool: Soft blobs with clear-cut edges
Type 6 stool: Fluffy pieces with ragged edges, a mushy stool
Type 7 stool: Watery, no solid pieces. Entirely liquid.
For type 1 stool and type 2 stool, it's likely that you're dealing with constipation. Type 2 poo is also the most likely to cause irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) because of the continual pressure of large stools on the intestinal walls.
Type 3 stool and type 4 stool are your ideal poos – they should be easy to pass without being too watery.
Types 5, 6 and 7 stool mean that you're leaning towards diarrhea which can be caused by something you ate or a harmful bacterium or virus.
How many times a day should you have a bowel movement?
What is the normal amount of times to poop? Simply put, there is no ‘normal’ frequency of pooing – once or twice a day is the average, but some people need to go more or less. As long as you feel comfortable, and are not in any form of pain and it doesn't hurt to push when you poop, you should not have to worry about serious issues.
It’s the same story with the size and shape of your stools – if what is coming out is normal for you, it's probably ok. Should you have any concerns, consult your health practitioner for more information.
Why is my poop green and what does it mean?
Faeces is normally brown because of the bile produced in the liver that helps you digest. Typically, food will take about 3 days from the time you eat it to coming out the other end, so when you have slightly yellow and green stuff coming out, it means that your digestion process has taken a shorter time.
Black, grey, red and light grey coloured bowel movements can mean trouble if it’s a change from what you usually see, and is worth checking out with a medical expert.
What does it mean when your poop smells?
Your intestines are full of trillions of bacteria that help the digestive and metabolic processes along, and they are also the reason why your poo smells. The slight smell of your poo is actually a good sign, as it means that your gut is full of bacteria that keep you healthy. However, if you do have a really sour or foul smell for an extended period of time, then seek medical attention to rule out any serious health issues (2).
What happens if you hold in poop?
The question of, 'is it bad if you hold in your poo?' seems like an old wives tale now, however the longer you hold the stool in your colon, the more water is absorbed and the harder it becomes which can lead to constipation. Make sure to never hold in your poo for days on end as that can lead to damaging effects of IBS (3).
Abnormal or unhealthy poop
Blood – Blood in your stool can be a result of tears in the anal tissue as a result of straining too hard or constipation, or can be a sign of something more serious. Continued blood when you go is definitely a sign that you need to see a doctor immediately.
Rectal mucus – A part of the process that’s not talked about a lot, rectal mucus is what lubricates your poos to help you get them out easier. You should never produce so much that you can actually see it, but if you are straining to push it out or it feels dry, you may need to drink more water to ease things up.
Good Zing Expert and Nutritional Therapist Karen Newby says, "Try to include dietary fibre to encourage gut motility and peristalsis – lots of fresh fruit, vegetables, oily fish and gentle soluble fibre from nuts and seeds are all great natural foods that can help get things moving at home fast." Remember, good hydration, lots of fibre (found in fruit and vegetables and wholegrain foods which are excellent home remedies to ease constipation) and regular exercise are beneficial for healthy bowel movements and work together to make sure everything moves the way it's meant to move. Good luck!
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1. Bristol University: static1.1.sqspcdn.com/static/f/1451532/22180508/1363249562587/bristol_stool_chart.pdf
2. US National Library of Medicine: https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003132.htm
3. Gastro.org: https://www.gastro.org/patient-center/Understanding_Constipation_Brochure_Jan_2013.pdf