Signature Poop: What Does Yours Say About You?
The world may lie to you, but your poop never will. Take a little peek now, if you haven’t before, and find out what it says about your health.
Sure, go ahead and laugh, but this article is going to be anything but funny (okay, maybe a little funny). Unless you’re a 3-year-old, or have a 3-year-old in the tormenting process of potty training, I guess you don’t talk about faecal matter enough. I distinctly remember myself as a 7-year-old when I was told never to say ‘oh, shit!’ or just ‘shit’, because it was a ‘bad word’. I assumed that since it isn’t very pleasing to the eyes or the nose, it must be a bad word after all. What did I know? The phrase ‘shit happens’ is everywhere on social media. I recently heard my 6-year-old nephew say it, when I told him I had to work on a holiday. They even made a hash tag for it. But my question is, when your shit truly happens, do you actually even acknowledge it before flushing? Gastroenterologist Anish Sheth, author of ‘What’s Your Poo Telling You’, said in an interview, “Your bowel movements are the only real marker you have about what your GI health is like.” I couldn’t agree more. So, here’s the latest scoop on poop – there is this thing called the Bristol stool chart that helps you gauge your bowel movements, because you must be wondering where to start (good news – it doesn’t need you to touch your poop. Just a look is good enough!). According to the stool chart, there are 7 types of poops: Type 1: Separate hard lumps, that are hard to pass. Type 2: Sausage shaped, but lumpy. Type 3: Sausage shaped, but with cracks on the surface. Type 4: Snake/sausage-like, but smooth. Type 5: Soft blobs with clear-cut edges that are passed easily. Type 6: Fluffy pieces with ragged edges, loose stool. Type 7: No solid pieces, entirely liquid. If you find a type 4 in your pot, then you’re doing everything right! Type 4 is the ideal kind of stool to have – nice, smooth, and tubular. Anything above that (types 1, 2, and 3) tend towards constipation, type 1 being the most constipated. And types 5, 6, and 7 indicate loose bowel movements, type 7 being the most loose. The award for the best colour goes to… Don’t call me racist, but colour really matters.
- A nice medium to dark brown is the way to go (think milk chocolates).
- A yellow or green stool could be due to fat malabsorption, or liver or gall bladder stress.
- Sometimes, a rectal tear may cause blood to leak into poop, making it red. Sometimes, eating too much beetroot may render your stool temporarily red.
- A black stool may mean internal bleeding in the upper gastrointestinal tract. If there is any blood in the GI tract, it will turn the stool black, due to oxidation, by the time it’s excreted. A diet rich in iron may also render your stool black.
The key is to make a note of consistent changes instead of temporary, incidental ones. Last question – To float, or not to float? A diet with lots of beans, sprouts, cabbage, or a large meal is likely to make stool float because of gas, and it shouldn’t be a cause for concern. However, if floaters become a regular occurrence, or if you spot an oil-slick appearance, it could mean something is preventing your body’s ability to absorb fats from food. For instance, inflammation, or an infection in your pancreas could prevent you from producing enough digestive enzymes that help in the breakdown and absorption of fat in the intestine. Food allergies or infections could damage the lining of your intestines, and affect absorption, too. Celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, colon cancer, gastritis, biliary obstruction, cystic fibrosis etc., all have symptoms that show up in stool. Only if people spoke about it without making a face, and acknowledged it as a vital indicator of health, it could save lives by aiding timely diagnosis. C’mon, you can do this...one little peek everyday won’t hurt! Call it caca, doodoo, dump, poo, or poop; your stool will still say more about you than your horoscope ever will. If not a dinner conversation, you could still include it in small talk. “Hey! How’s your poop looking these days? Nice to meet you.” Maybe not.