What does your poo reveal about you?

By on September 14, 2017


What does your poo reveal about you?

What does your poo reveal about you?

What comes out of your body can say a lot about what’s happening inside it. 

Photo: iStock

So just what is poo? Poo is made up of water, fibre, bacteria, bile and sloughed-off cells from the inside of your intestinal tract. Although some people find bowel habits a source of embarrassment, studying your movements can give you useful insights into your wellbeing. After all, a healthy digestive system is the basis for good health. Your faeces are a veritable treasure trove of information and are far too valuable to flush down the loo without a second glance.

The perfect poo

The perfect poo is about the size and shape of a banana, not too hard nor too soft. Normal pooing frequency is three times a week to three times a day. However, most people feel their best with one or two nicely formed bowel movements each day.

The colour should vary between Mission Brown (hard to forget if you were around in the 1970s) and burnished bronze. Here is a guide to some poos you may have had.

Déjà Poo

Seeing pieces of undigested food in your poo is cause for concern. Either you have not chewed your food well enough or your digestive system is in need of support. The exception to this rule is the odd kernel of corn or piece of tomato skin that can be devilishly difficult to digest.

If you have undigested food in your poo, slow down when you eat and chew each mouthful at least 10 times before swallowing. If you still have issues, take a digestive enzyme with each meal.

Pebbly Poo

If your poo looks like that of a sheep, goat or, worse, a guinea pig, it is generally a sign you hold stress in your bowel. A stressed poo may exit like a log but falls apart in the toilet bowl into small pebbles.

Learn how to breathe deep into your belly, relaxing the muscles of the bowel wall. Take a magnesium supplement daily. Magnesium helps relax muscles, including the muscle that lines the bowel. Stress-relieving herbs include passionflower, valerian, zizyphus and St John’s wort.

Floaters and Sinkers

Perhaps the most controversial topic in the world of poo is that of floaters and sinkers. Floaters are preferable to sinkers. A floating poo is a sign your diet is high in fibre. The fibre attracts bacteria, which create gas, and this allows the poo to rise in the water.

If your poo sinks, eat more wholegrains such as rolled oats and brown rice, and legumes such as lentils, chickpeas and baked beans, and increase your fruit and vegetable intake.

Darth Vader poo

A dark poo can indicate you have eaten a lot of spinach or you are taking iron supplements. It can also be a sign of constipation. However, a dark poo can indicate more serious health problems, such as bleeding in the bowel. By the time the blood has travelled down the digestive tract, the iron has oxidised and darkened. A black, “tarry” poo may indicate blood loss further up the digestive tract and is a sign you should visit your doctor.

Slime city

Visible mucus that resembles a gel on your poo or on the toilet paper may be a sign of inflammation. The digestive tract is lined with mucous membranes that secrete mucus which allows for the easy passage of poo. In general, you should not be able to see the mucus. If you do, it may indicate inflammation of the mucous membranes lining the bowel.

This could be a sign of infection, gluten sensitivity or an inflammatory bowel disease such as ulcerative colitis. Slippery elm powder is a gentle demulcent fibre that helps reduce inflammation in the bowel. If you still see mucus, see a doctor.

Skid mark poo

The poo that leaves indelible skid marks on the toilet bowel and is sticky, smelly and difficult to flush is a sign there is fat in your poo. The skid mark poo may also be khaki, a colour that may be de rigeur on safari but is not a good look for poo.

There is a chance your gall bladder or liver are in trouble. Drink some lemon juice in hot water each morning and give alcohol a miss.

Transit time

Transit time is the length of time your poo takes to travel out of your body. What is the correct amount of time for the voyage? Bowel length varies considerably from person to person and this influences transit time.

The average transit time in Western countries is between 18 and 36 hours, whereas in people eating less refined diets with more fibre, transit time is 12 to 18 hours.

How can you tell your transit time? Eating a cup of grated raw beetroot and a handful of sesame or sunflower seeds, without chewing them, and noticing when the last remnants have been excreted, will give you an approximation of your own personal transit time.'

Mim Beim is a naturopath. If you are concerned about your health or well-being, book an appointment with your GP, who will be able to advise a correct treatment plan.

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