What’s the scoop on poop?
For starters, there’s probably a lot you don’t know about your stool. Sure there’s a certain ick factor in doing so, but don’t be queasy, be a detective and start looking in the toilet after you go! :)
While there’s no such thing as a perfect poop, there are things to look for that may indicate signs of illness. Some signs may seem frightening, but in fact are very normal.
So what should you look for in stool? Things like shape and form, color, odor, and density can all give clues to what might be an imbalance in the body.
1.Let’s start with shape and form. The ideal stool should be longer, shaped like a log, firm, and smooth. A well hydrated body that is fed healthy fiber will produce this type of stool. Stools that are formed but lumpy and bumpy or round like rabbit turds tend to be dryer. These are signs of dehydration and lack of fiber. Poop shouldn’t be mushy and soft. Very thin ribbon-like stools can be the sign of something serious, or seen in persons dealing with gastrointestinal issues like Crohn’s or irritable bowel.
2.What about color? Colors can range from medium brown (normal) to clay to very dark or even black. While brown is the typical color, darker stools can be related to what a person has eaten. For instance, those who eat a lot of greens may have a darker brown stool. Certain medications can turn stool a light or white color. If you’ve ever eaten a lot of beets or other red foods you’ve probably noticed your stool being red. Stool that is very dark red or black is cause for concern since it can indicate bleeding in the upper digestive tract.
3.Then there’s odor. Why do some folks have the foulest-smelling poop while others have next to no scent at all? Some odor is related to diet, others to medication and certain health conditions like celiac disease or colitis. People who eat a lot of animal protein, simple carbs and processed foods tend to produce feces that smell foul while those who eat a cleaner diet and drink a lot of water have poop that doesn’t reek at all.
4.Does your poop float, and does this matter? The answer is YES! Poop that floats is typical of a diet high in fat and may be related to not being able to properly absorb and digest food. The sign of a healthy poop is one that sinks to the bottom of the toilet.
While most people prefer not to talk about poop, many DO look in the toilet before they flush. It’s a good habit to get into.
Observing the shape, color, odor and density of your stool can help you gauge the status of your health. If you notice anything that seems different, or if there are sudden changes in your stools, call your doctor to rule out anything serious.