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Let’s talk poop! We know everyone hates talking about poop. They might talk about some crazy stuff but get all prissy when the topic of poop comes up. What!?!! We’re not going to make you touch it! The average daily poop is just under a pound. Not everyone poops every day, even though they should! So, that average means there are some big poopers out there. It all adds up to over 1 million tons of poop a day! With all this poop, we need to talk about it because it’s a big indicator of health.

A good poop is a sign of a healthy digestive system and microbiome of gut bacteria and flora. Many of our health concerns start in our gut. 80% of your immune system is in your gastrointestinal tract. If you have a problem with inflammation, hormones, stress, and many other concerns, we’ll see signs of it in your gut. That’s why a food allergy test and a stool test are some of the first tests recommended to patients.

What is Poop?

First, we need to get something straight. Poop isn’t just what you ate today. Less than 10% of your poop is indigestible food matter like that corn you see in your poop. Overall, 75% of your poop is water, and the other 25% is indigestible food, dead bacteria, fats, inorganic substances, and proteins.

If it were just what you ate today, it wouldn’t tell us much beyond what you ate. Keeping a food diary would make more sense than watching the toilet. Poop is more than that! It’s the stuff left over from the digestive process, and that’s why we can tell so much from it.

There are times when our poop speaks to us loudly. An example might be if you were to eat something you shouldn’t, then feel a gurgle and make a run for the toilet. A study found that “normal” poops aren’t all that common and that nearly half of the participants had less-than-optimal bathroom trips. [1] That means poop problems are all too common, and we aren’t talking about it.

Sometimes, these changes happen over time and become our new “normal.” Just because something is common doesn’t mean it’s normal. So, you should always check the toilet bowl to see what your poop is trying to tell you.

You might know the basics of what’s going on with your poop long before we talk about it! There’s a lot your daily poop check can tell you. Take a look at the color, shape, frequency, smell, and buoyancy to learn a lot about your poop. Then, follow up with a good stool test to learn even more.

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Poop Check: What Does the Color Tell You?

Poop can come in lots of colors. It could be as simple as something we ate or something more serious. If you don’t think it’s something you ate, and rainbow poop is a regular occurrence, make sure to get yourself tested.

Brown: Brown poop is pretty standard for the world of poop. If your poop is a shade of brown, you are doing good. The brown color comes from bilirubin, a substance from your liver, mixing with bile.

Green: Green is another common poop color. It can come from eating lots of green veggies, Crohn’s disease, and/or antibiotics. It also happens if your poop moves through the digestive tract too quickly. The bilirubin and bile didn’t have time to mix together, so you get green.

Yellow: You are not pooping sunshine, and this could be a problem you should look into soon. It could mean you have a gallbladder problem, chronic pancreatitis, or celiac disease. Or you had too much of a colored beverage. Lay off the artificial yellow foods and keep an eye on it.

Red: This can be an alarming shade to see as you frantically try to remember if you ate any beets or tomatoes. Blood in your stool is a reason to talk to your doctor, no matter how much you don’t want to talk about poop. It can be a sign of hemorrhoids, ulcerative colitis, inflammation, cancer, and other causes of gastrointestinal bleeding. That doesn’t sound like something to ignore.

Black: This color is also a sign of potential bleeding. It could mean bleeding in the upper gastrointestinal tract. It can also be from iron supplements, medicines, or foods like meat, blueberries, or black licorice.

White or Grey: It can be surprising if your poop looks like a peeled banana! It’s not normal for poop to not have color! It can be from medications like anti-diarrheal medicine, or it means there is a lack of bile in your poop which could mean a more serious problem.

Poop Check: What Does the Shape and Consistency Tell You?

Tiny Hard Lumps: This poop shape probably means you haven’t pooped in a while and have severe constipation. This is one of the most common poop problems, and it isn’t good. Your poop is all dried up because it’s been sitting in your digestive tract for too long. Talk to your doctor to make sure there are no underlying problems.

Lumpy, Compact Sausage: This is also the poop of a constipated individual. Keep an eye on your poop and make sure this isn’t your “regular.” Make sure you are getting enough fiber, exercise, and water.

Cracked Snake: This is what a doctor likes to hear about and the kind of poop we’d hope patients have. Keep drinking water and getting exercise.

Smooth Torpedo: This is the perfect poop. This poop appears soft and smooth. Don’t touch it! Take a picture and be proud! You are eating well, exercising, drinking lots of water, and taking care of your digestive tract. This poop is your trophy. (Yay.)

Soft lumps: You have some diarrhea. It could be a sign of inflammation, food allergies, or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Very Soft with Jagged Edges: This is mild diarrhea and, if constant, could be a sign of a bigger problem.

All liquid: You have full-blown diarrhea, and your body is trying to evacuate something out. It could be a parasite, bacteria, or another type of infection. If it is happening regularly, something is going on that you want to get checked out. It could also be that you ate something you shouldn’t have, lactose intolerance, or maybe that expiration date wasn’t as flexible as you thought. Make sure you’re getting plenty of fluids.

Pencil-Thin: This poop could be a sign of a blockage or inflammation in your intestines. If this happens a lot, get it checked out, as it could be a tumor or other serious blockage.

You can learn more and see the original Bristol Stool Chart in this study, published in the British Medical Journal. [2]

Poop Check: What is the Frequency Telling You?

We want to hear that patients are pooping 2-3 times a day to know they have healthy guts. It is common for women to poop every other day. Common is not normal.

Imagine the fermentation that’s happening as your poop is hanging around in your gut. Aloe, magnesium, and diuretics can help alleviate the problem in the short term, but they aren’t the answer. You need to do a test to get to the bottom of it. Not doing anything can cause your gastrointestinal tract to get worse over time because you aren’t addressing the cause. You could have an infection or food allergies.

Stress can also contribute to constipation. Cortisol and adrenaline slow down digestion. You’re in “fight-or-flight” mode, not “rest-and-digest” mode. You won’t know what’s impacting your bathroom frequency unless you get tested at your local Wellness Way clinic.

Poop Check: What Does the Smell Tell You?

It’s poop, so it smells! That’s normal. Nobody’s poop smells like roses. If it starts to smell really, really rancid then that could be a sign of a severe gallbladder issue. It stinks because you’re not breaking down the fat. It can also be a sign of infection like giardia. If your poop develops a really strong odor, tell your doctor your poop really stinks!

Poop Check: What Does the Buoyancy Tell You?

Poop should sink. It should look like a smooth torpedo ready to take off when you flush. If it’s not sinking, it might mean you have too much gas in your digestive tract from food you ate. If it’s happening often, it could mean your body isn’t producing enough enzymes or that something is creating inflammation in your digestive tract. It’s time to get your food allergies and stool tested.

Poop Check: Healthy Pooping for All

If everybody got an allergy and stool test, it would bring them good poops and good health. Some of the greatest information comes from testing the stool because it tells us how the immune system is doing and how your gut bacteria are performing their vital role in your immune function. It also tells us how to best deal with different infections. Getting help for your gut will help your immune response, food digestion, and nutrition absorption, contributing to optimal health. Not having a good gut can lead to inflammation, hormone problems, auto-immune disease, and a host of other problems. Everybody should have healthy poops every day. So, do your poop check, and don’t be afraid to talk to your Wellness Way clinic about your poop!

Originally posted March 2, 1018. Updated December 27, 2023.

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Disclaimer: This content is for educational purposes only. It’s not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your Wellness Way clinic or personal physician, especially if currently taking prescription or over-the-counter medications. Pregnant women, in particular, should seek the advice of a physician before trying any herb or supplement listed on this website. Always speak with your individual clinic before adding any medication, herb, or nutritional supplement to your health protocol. Information and statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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  • Kimberly Palmer Davide says:

    Didn’t see anything on your site about insurance coverage. Do you take any insurance?

    • The Wellness Way says:

      Hi Kimberly,

      Thank you for your question. That answer will vary per office so you should contact your local office to find out more. You can often use your flexible spending account and many of our patients find the comprehensive care gets them to the answers they are looking for more quickly.

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