Poop, also called stool, is a normal product of the bowel. It is, in fact, an important element of the digestive system. It is one of the waste products that are removed from the body and may contain undigested food particles, bacteria, and other substances.
Poop differs in color, amount, texture, and odor from one individual to another. What can be worrisome is when there is a change in what you are normally used to.
In this article, we will be discussing what different colors and textures of stool mean, we will also give you two visual poop charts to serve as an easy guide to understanding your stool.
Normal Poop Characteristics
Normal poop is brown with a soft to firm texture.
The brown color is due to bile. Bile is a green pigment produced in the liver and stored in the gall bladder, it helps to emulsify fat for easier digestion. When bacteria found in your gut act on bile, they turn its color from green to brown.
The strong smell is produced by normal, healthy gut bacteria. These bacteria in stool act on food in the gut, releasing gases that have an unpleasant odor. This is why your poop smells.
Emptying your bowel should normally be pain-free with less stress. The texture of a normal poop is soft in texture. It is released in a single piece form or in some smaller pieces.
Thus pain-free, brown and soft poop is considered a sign of a healthy gut. The long, sausage-like shape of your poop is due to the shape of the gut.
When it comes to frequency, everyone is different, however, there is a normal range– 3 times a day to 3 times a week. If you poop more than 3 times a day, it is classified as diarrhea, while if you poop less than 3 times a week, you are constipated.
You should monitor any changes you notice either in the smell, texture, frequency, or color of your poop, as this may indicate a problem.
Now, we will be discussing the other colors of stool you may pass with their respective common causes.
Bonus: You can download our free poop checklist for a healthy gut below
Poop Color Chart: What Different Stool Colors Mean
When you pass a white, gray or pale stool, it might be an indication of liver or gallbladder problem. Generally, pale stools mean no bile to give it the characteristic brown color. Bile is produced in the liver and stored in the gallbladder. However, some drugs used in treating diarrhea can cause white stools.
When you notice the color of your stool is black and it looks coffee color, it might be as a result of what you ingested. When you take iron supplements or blood tonic, your poop may be black.
Other causes include black licorice, black stout, and bismuth medications. However, if you had not taken any of the above, it can be an indication of upper gastrointestinal bleeding. Blood is usually red but when it goes through the process of digestion in the gut, the action of enzymes and bacteria turn its color black.
If your stool is green, it might be due to your high consumption of green vegetables like spinach, kale or other green foods. However, a green stool might be an indication of too much bile.
Also, it can happen in diarrhea. Food may pass through the intestines too quickly that there isn’t enough time for bacteria and enzymes to change the green color of bile to brown.
Red/ Bloody Poop
If your poop is red, it can be due eating too many red-colored foods like beets or gastrointestinal bleeding. Most times, it is abnormal and you should immediately see your doctor. Red or bloody stools can be caused by conditions like hemorrhoids, anal fissures, colon polyps, diverticulosis, and colorectal cancer.
Eating fruits that contain an orange pigment called beta-carotene orange can cause orange-colored stools. These fruits include carrots and winter squash.
However, obstructed bile ducts and some medication like antacids and antibiotics like Rifampicin can make your poop orange.
If you notice your stool appears yellow or greasy, it means that your poop contains too much fat. This can be due to absorption problems or problem with bile secretion or enzyme production.
Even though your diet can be responsible for some poop colors, a change in the color of your stool should not last for more than a week. If you notice a change in your poop color that is lasting that long, you should consult your doctor.
Whenever you visit the toilet to poo and you see it floating on water, it simply means that your stool is less dense than those that sink down.
Causes of floating poop can be from an increased amount of gas or water. Malabsorption can also cause floating turd.
Poop Texture Chart
According to the Bristol Stool Chart, there are seven types of stools. The chart or scale is a medical aid for the classification of feces into seven groups.
Your type of stool depends on the time it spent in your colon.
Type 1 to 2 of this poop chart indicates constipation, Type 3-4 are normal, Type 5-7 may indicate diarrhea.
Type 1– Poops are hard in texture and scattered small lumps. It looks like nuts. It is very hard to excrete. These small pellets usually mean you have constipation. This should not be passed often
Type 2– It is lumpy with log shape. It is also a sign you are constipated. It is not normal to pass these frequently.
Type 3– This poop is also log-shaped. It has some cracks on its surface. It is easy to pass and a bit soft. It is the ‘gold standard’ type of poop.
Type 4- It has a smooth consistency with a snake-like shape. It is considered a normal stool. It is usually passed every one to three days.
Type 5– The poop pieces are small, soft and very easy to pass. The blobs have clean cut edges. This means you are not eating enough fiber. You should include fiber to your meal. You can increase your cereal and vegetable consumption.
Type 6– It is very soft, fluffy and mushy with ragged edges. It indicates mild diarrhea. You can try to drink more water and fruit juice to improve it.
Type 7– It is a completely watery stool with no solid pieces. This means you have diarrhea. Your stool moves very quickly through your bowel. It is unhealthy poop.
Tips for Achieving A Healthy Poop
There are actually different ways to maintain consistency and achieve healthy feces. However, this is important not just to promote a healthy gastrointestinal tract, it helps in attaining optimal health.
The following tips can help you achieve a more healthy poop.
1. Drink more water
How much water do you drink daily? Or do you consume excessively caffeinated or sugary drinks?. Increasing your daily water intake and reduce drinks that may affect your health.
2. Reduce processed foods and alcohol intake
Wiping too often can be a result of too much mucus in the colon. Avoid or reduce manufactured and heavily processed foods and alcohol.
Some drugs can affect your gut health and cause common side effects like diarrhea and constipation. Talk to your doctor and discuss if your medications are becoming more harmful than good to you.
4. Increase healthy intestinal bacteria
You can increase the activities of healthy bacteria in your gut by consuming probiotics and some types of food. Example of such food includes kimchi and yogurt. Probiotics help enhance intestinal health as it protects against inflammation by promoting the growth of healthy bacteria, hence, less space for bad bacteria to cause diseases.
5. Avoid food allergens and sensitivities
If you may already know you are allergic to certain foods like cabbage, wheat, or dairy products (lactose intolerant). These might increase abdominal discomfort and affect or change your bowel emptying. So, it is advisable to avoid such foods.
6. Increase fiber intake
Increase your fiber intake by consuming different varieties of fruits and vegetables. They help your digestive process and help you pass stool more easily.
7. Reduce laxative dependency
Traditional laxatives may be the first obvious way to treat constipation. Laxatives are not too beneficial in relieving it and can exacerbate the problem. Instead of relying on a pill-like laxative, try a more natural method by drinking pear, apple or plum juice.
8. Avoid holding it in
When you holding on to your poop, water and nutrients can be reabsorbed back into the body. Poop is a waste product that has to be released, so, when the urge shows up, do not hesitate to let it go as soon as you can.
Involving yourself in more physical activity can significantly improve your health. Exercises reduce the incidence of constipation and help regulate bowel movement. It also helps in combating fatigue and symptoms of anxiety and depression.
P.S: You can download your free poop checklist for a healthy gut below.
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