Have you ever wondered what’s a normal poop?
Everybody poops. It’s something we do every day (or should be).
But it’s awkward and icky to talk about so no one does… which means most of us are completely in the dark as to what’s normal in the BM department.
Today, I encourage you to check that awkwardness at the door. This is a poop talk encouraged zone!
Because the more we talk about it, the more we know about it and know what to look for.
Poop as a Vital Sign
The simple act of turning around and looking in the toilet is one of the most important things you can do for your health.
It’s like a little daily report card for your overall health, gut health, digestion, nutrient absorption, hydration, and more.
There’s so much it can tell us, and it’s just sitting right there in the toilet. All we have to do is look…
What’s a Normal Poop?
The Bristol Stool Chart is a handy tool for evaluating and categorizing different types of stool ranging from abnormal to normal poop. It can be useful for communicating with your doctor or practitioner about your findings too.
The types of stool the chart categorizes range from various states of constipation to diarrhea.
Type 1-2 – Constipation
Poop that is dry, hard to pass, comes out as pellets (think rabbit poop) is associated with constipation, especially if bowel movements are not happening daily.
Constipation can be related to hydration, thyroid health (low thyroid hormone), serotonin (affects motility), metabolic health (pre-diabetes/diabetes), dysbiosis (bacterial imbalance in gut), and fiber intake – either not enough or too much, or eating a diet high in “dry foods,” such as grains, beans, nuts, and seeds.
Stress can also contribute to constipation by affecting the vagus nerve, our main and longest nerve that connects the gut to the brain and visa versa.
If you’ve ever not been able to go while traveling, you’ve felt the very real effects of stress on the vagus nerve.
Type 3-4 – Normal Poop
The typical normal poop is well formed in an S or C shape, soft and smooth, and easily passed one to three times per day.
Normal poop should leave the toilet bowel clean – no streaks. And should wipe clean and easily as well.
Within this type of poop there are still a few red flags to look for.
Can you see food particles or bits of food? Basically, can you tell what you ate by looking at your poop?
This can be a sign of low stomach acid, insufficient digestive enzymes.
We need stomach acid to break down our food, and enzymes to break apart particles and proteins.
If we don’t have enough, the job won’t get done all the way, and we can see evidence of this even in “normal poop.”
The fix can sometimes be as simple as paying more attention to our food while we’re eating. Eating more mindfully, chewing, and only eating in a relaxed (not stressed) state.
Stress has a huge impact on our digestive secretions and can decrease our output of stomach acid by more than 50 percent.
It makes sense… if you’re in survival mode, your body is not going to prioritize digesting a cheeseburger. If it thinks you’re running from a tiger, it’s gonna leave the burger for the tiger!
Normal Poop Color
Another quality of normal poop to pay attention to is color.
The ideal normal poop is dark brown in color. This color comes from bilirubin, a waste product of our red blood cells, which makes it’s way through in the bile.
Other colors to watch out for…
Black – can be caused by iron supplements, can also be colored by blood, which would also make the consistency sticky or tar like (if you think you may have blood in your stool, be sure to alert your primary care physician).
White – this can signal a lack of bile, which can be a sign of issues with the gallbladder, liver, or pancreas
Green – can be from foods. Also too much bile or too little bilirubin
Red – can be from foods (like beets!). But can also be from intestinal bleeding or hemmroids – check with your doctor.
Orange – can be from beta carotene rich foods (carrots, sweet potatoes). Also blocked bile ducts or certain medications.
Yellow – can be a sign of too much fat in stool due to possibly a malabsorption issue. Also low digsestive enzymes and/or bile
Texture and smell is important here too.
Stool that is clay like (sticky, hard to wipe clean) can signal low bile, low stomach acid or enzymes. It can also be a sign of dehydration or low water intake.
What about stinky poop?
Foul smelling stool can be from a diet high in processed food. Additives and chemicals in our food can contribute to smellier than normal poop. Cleaning up the diet and eliminating toxins, increasing movement can all help get rid of stinky poop.
Does it float?
Floating stool can be a sign of too much fat in the stool due to malabsorption issues.
Normal poop should sink.
Type 5-7 – Diarrhea
Diarrhea is stool that is not well formed. It can range from a blob to watery diarrhea. Diarrhea can be due to acute illness, dysbiosis (imbalanced bacteria in the gut), or food intolerance.
Type 5 is more blob-like poop.
This type of stool may be due to low fiber intake or GI inflammation.
Increasing soluble fiber – the type of fiber that takes up water – can be helpful for firming up the stool to remedy diarrhea.
Examples of foods high in soluble fiber include bananas, applesauce, pears, sweet potato, oats, beans, bran, psyllium husk.
Alternatively insoluble fiber (foods likes broccoli, zucchini, lettuces) can be helpful for moving stool through the colon as these types of fibers act more like a broom helping to move things along, remedying constipation.
When increasing fiber, start low and slow, increasing the amount you’re eating gradually to prevent any additional upset (eg. bloating, gas).
Type 6 and 7 are more true diarrhea, more typically associated with illness (body wants it out!), states of dysbiosis, food intolerance, or low enzymes.
Key questions to ask yourself —
Does it happen randomly or regularly?
If it’s random, it’s more likely to be due to food intolerance.
If it’s regularly, it’s more likely to be related to what’s going on in the gut (gut dysbiosis/bacteria imbalance, SIBO, etc.).
What’s Common vs. What’s Normal Poop
There’s a big difference between what’s common and what’s normal.
It may be common for people to skip a day and not have a bowel movement. But this is not normal.
Our poop is a main exit. It’s how toxins, microbial and food waste, hormones, healthy by products like bile, bilirubin, etc. all leave the body.
If that exit is blocked for some reason, waste backs up. Toxins can get reabsorbed. Hormones re-circulate, continuing to have hormonal effects and contributing to imbalances.
This is how constipation becomes a root cause of dis-ease in the body. And it’s a key dysfunction to resolve when working to regain your health.
A great place to start is measuring your transit time, particularly if you suspect constipation or after reading this post think your bowels run on the slow end.
The beet test is a super simple, easy (and kind of hilarious) way to find out your transit time.
Start turning around and looking.
It sounds so simple, I know.
It’s often the simple things we do every day that keep our health on track.
Turning around looking in the toilet bowel is one of those things.
P.S. Ready to get to the bottom what’s behind your IBS or constipation so you can not only poop like a champ but have peace of mind that you’re preventing bigger issues down the road? It starts with a chat so we can get to know each other, see if I can help and if it’s a good fit to move forward. Grab some time to meet with me here.