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What does your poo say about you

What does your poo say about you

Hi there, it’s Nina (aka resident nutritionist). I want to talk about all things poo! Going to the toilet…it’s something we all do, yet it’s something we rarely talk about. It’s an assumed part of daily life (ideally daily anyway) and we rarely pay active attention to it. However it’s such an important marker of our health. I remember being a teen and reading magazines like Dolly or Cosmo with quizzes like ‘What does your favourite colour say about you’ or ‘What does your celebrity crush reveal about your future’. But I must admit I never remember taking one about ‘What does your poo say about you?’. Of course, there are many more factors to consider than simply what ends up in the toilet bowl (like your stress levels, underlying health conditions, etc), however your bowel habits really can be a great indicator of various things. So, are you curious about what your poo says about you? Read on!

P.S. If you’re sitting here thinking…I have no idea what my poo is like…I never look…that’s gross. Then I highly encourage you to get more curious. It’s important to be aware of these sorts of processes that go on in our bodies. The more we are aware of them, the more we are aware of our health…and that’s pretty darn important.

De-Code Your Poo

Your bowel movements will likely vary a bit day to day depending on what you’ve had to eat or drink, how stressed you are and other factors, but the general guide is that a poo should be easy to pass. You shouldn’t need to huff and puff in order to pass a movement, or take the newspaper (or your phone) in there to pass the time. Nor should it have you rushing to the bathroom with urgency or pain.

An extremely handy guide is called the ‘Bristol Stool Chart’. Any of my patients will know that I whip it out at most appointments to talk about what their bowel movements are like. I’ve popped a picture of it below and will refer to it a few times below when I talk about the ‘Types’.

 

Consistency

Dry, hard poo
This may look like pebbly separate lumps (Type 1) or a lumpy dry sausage shape with cracks (Type 2). Poos like this are often hard and sometimes painful to pass, and likely indicate constipation. Some of the most common causes of constipation are a lack of water or dietary fibre from foods like vegetables, fruits and wholegrains. Other causes include an imbalance in your gut microflora, certain foods, hormone imbalance and stress.Sausage shaped and smooth
This is a Type 4 and looks a bit like a banana. This is generally considered a healthy poo. Everyone’s ‘healthy’ is different, but this is the general benchmark to aim for.Soft mushy poo
This may look like Type 6, is usually passed very easily. These sorts of poos can be caused by various factors, including stress or a lack of dietary fibre.Watery poo
This type of poo contains no solid pieces at all (Type 7). It’s considered diarrhoea if it’s accompanied by urgency and increased frequency. This type of poo may be due to an imbalance in your gut microbiome, inflammation, a lack of dietary fibre, stress and other factors. 

Colours

Brown poo
Generally, a ‘healthy’ poo is brown due to something called bile (which helps you breakdown and digest fats). Bile is typically green, but as it moves through your digestive tract through various processes, it will usually result in a brown stool.Green poo
This often occurs when your poo has moved through your intestines too quickly. The green colour comes from the bile which has not had enough time to break down, and is often accompanied by diarrhoea.Yellow or light coloured poo
This may indicate an issue with fat breakdown and absorption and therefore an excess of fat in your stool. This may be due to issue with your liver or gall bladder.Red poo
This may simply be because you’ve eaten beetroot recently, but it may also be due to blood. Often, it is due to something like hemorrhoids. However if you notice this, it’s best to go to your doctor as soon as possible to get checked.Black or very dark poo
This may be due to an excess of dried blood from somewhere inside your digestive tract. As the blood travels through your digestive tract, the iron in the blood oxidises and darkens…causing a black and sometimes ‘tarry’ poo. In this situation, I highly recommend going to your doctor as soon as possible for a check up. It may also be due to other factors, including certain iron supplements, eating lots of spinach or black liquorice.

 

Other signs

Undigested food
Pretty much everyone experiences undigested corn in their poo, but some people will notice other undigested bits of food (like veggie skins or nuts). This may indicate that you’re not chewing your food properly or that your digestive system is not properly breaking down your food.

Mucous
A slimy or mucousy poo is often an indication of inflammation in your digestive tract. Your digestive tract is lined with mucous membranes, and your body produces mucous as somewhat of a ‘protective layer’ when there’s inflammation. This inflammation may be from a variety of factors, including infection, certain foods or inflammatory bowel disease.

Sticky poo
Poo that requires lots of wiping or leaves marks on your toilet bowel often indicates that there’s fat in your poo. This may indicate an issue with fat breakdown and absorption, again possibly due to liver or gall bladder issues.

So, there you have it! Next time you go to the loo, take a good look. Your poo really can be quite insightful. However, we’re all completely unique human beings. The above is a general guide, but as I said there are many more factors to consider, including underlying health conditions. One thing I haven’t talked about here is frequency (i.e. how often you go to the loo – daily, multiple times a day, once every few days, etc)…if that’s something you want to hear about, just ask me! If you’re curious, concerned or confused about your bowel habits…or anything else to do with your gut or general health, please get in contact with me at [email protected] or book an appointment online.

Nina x