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Everyone does it, but everyone avoids talking about it. Sorry if this grosses you out, but your poop can tell you a lot about what’s going on in your body and identify problems early.
Ideally, a healthy poop should be easy to pass and only take a minute. While it is common that people spend more time on the toilet, it shouldn’t take more than 10-15 minutes. It is particularly important to spend little time on the latrine, to help avoid the onset of piles.
A “healthy” frequency can vary quite a lot between different people, ranging from once every other day to up to 3 times a day.
If there are any problems, it only takes a glance to identify them.
Poop should not float. If you find that your poop floats quite often, it could be a sign that your body isn’t digesting fat properly.
It’s normal to find food in your poop as a lot of vegetables contain cellulose, which our bodies can’t digest. The appearance of it is determined by how we chew our food, so if you find that there are large bits coming out, try chewing more.
There is a handy chart to easily identify the appearance of poop developed by Ken Heaton, MD, who is an expert in bowel function and nutrition at the Bristol Royal Infirmary, UK.
This chart is known as the “Bristol Stool Chart”.
It was designed to prevent embarrassing discussions with your doctor, but it is also helpful for yourself as a simple guideline to check that everything is ok in your digestive tract.
There are 7 types of poop that range from “constipated” to “diarrhea”. You want to aim for type 4, and there are things you can do to help you achieve this goal no matter where you are on the chart.
Brown is the “normal” colour, thanks to a chemical known as “stercoblin”, which is formed from the breakdown of red blood cells in your body and the byproduct of bile. A hint of green is also considered healthy.
You shouldn’t be too alarmed if your poop comes out in a weird colour as it can often just be the result of what you’ve eaten, too much spinach, beetroots, cranberries, liquorice or certain supplements/medications/antibiotics can affect the colour of your poop and that is perfectly normal.
If you’ve not been ingesting foods/medications of a certain colour, then keep an eye out for these colours and make sure to consult your doctor if any of these colours persist.
Having trouble with pooping can be because of many reasons ranging from blockages in the colon or rectum, issues with pelvic muscles, hormonal conditions like pregnancy or diabetes, magnesium deficiency and even stress.
You can learn so much about your body and your diet from your poop, it’s a great way of monitoring your own health and the improvements you’ve been making to your diet.
As always, if any problems persist, you should seek medical advice as soon as possible.