Is My Poop Normal?
Yes, I’m serious! Your poop can tell a lot about your health, fitness, and nutrition. (And don’t you sometimes wonder anyway?)
I know you want your body working right. You put forth a good effort with your exercise and nutrition to reach your goals. So, what has your poo got to do with this?
Is your energy level low or sluggish? Do you feel like you’re having trouble losing weight or body fat? Are you finding it difficult to just feel good sometimes? Do you think you are having trouble getting into shape? Your poo can help us get to the, ahem, bottom of things. (Sorry.)
You already know that your poop can reflect your physical, and sometimes even emotional, health.
Maybe you get constipation or have diarrhea when you eat something that “doesn’t agree with you,” or when you’re super-nervous about something.
And what about fiber and water? If you’re not getting enough, it’ll probably show in your poop.
What about the all-important gut microbes? If they’re not happy, it’ll probably show in your poop.
So What Is Your Poop Trying to Tell You?
Poop that looks good or normal may be telling you several things about your health and fitness. For example:
- Your core muscles are strong
- Your gastrointestinal system is pumping nicely
- You’re getting plenty of fiber and other nutrients
- Your hormones are happy
- You aren’t overly stressed
- Your intestinal flora is balanced and thriving
If your poop isn’t looking all that good, it may be telling you something else important. For example:
- You may need to improve your nutrition
- You may be stressed and anxious
- You may need to drink more water
- You may have a food intolerance
- You may need more daily activity to help things move along better
- You may have a health issue that’s standing between you and the way you want to look and feel
Meet the Bristol Stool Scale
Here’s a trivia question for you: Did you know there is an “official” standard for poop? I mean a university-created chart! One that is used to help diagnose conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?
The Bristol Stool Scale was created at the prestigious University of Bristol in the UK back in 1997.
The scale breaks down poop into seven different categories ranging from type 1 which is very constipated, to type 7 which is diarrhea:
- Separate hard lumps (very constipated).
- Lumpy and sausage-like (slightly constipated).
- Sausage shaped with cracks in the surface (normal)
- Smooth, soft sausage (normal).
- Soft blobs with clear-cut edges (lacking fiber).
- Liquid consistency with no solid pieces (inflammation).
Other “poop” factors to consider
You probably guessed that the shapes described in the Bristol Stool Scale are not the only thing to consider for poop health.
Think about how often you go. At least once per day, up to 3 times per day is pretty good. Less than one, or more than three can mean there is something going on.
What about how hard you have to try to go? You want it to be as effortless as possible.
And the color? It should be brown from the bile that you need to break down the fats you ingest.
And if it’s green after a day of massive veggies, or red after that large glass of beet juice, you’re just fine.
But if you see an abnormal color, like red or even black, that you can’t explain based on what you ate or drank in the last day or two, you probably want to get that checked out.
What do you do when you have “imperfect” poo?
Well, the first thing to consider is how imperfect it is, and how often it is like that? Once in a while, things aren’t going to be perfect, and that’s A-OK.
Maybe you know you need to get more fiber or water, so try increasing that.
Or maybe you think you don’t get enough probiotic foods, then try getting more of them.
If you’re super-stressed, then try deep breathing, meditating, or having a warm bath.
Oh, and don’t forget the two most basic pieces of nutrition advice:
- First, eat a variety of nutrient-dense, minimally processed foods, including a lot of fruits & veggies (and their “fibrous” skins, wherever possible). The fiber in these is not only helpful for pushing food through your gut, but they also feed those millions of amazing helpful critters that live there (your friendly gut microbes.)
- The second piece of advice is to eat slowly, and mindfully, chewing thoroughly.
These are good habits for anyone and everyone, even when you have perfect poop!
Of course, long-term issues might require a more thorough review with a qualified healthcare practitioner. Don’t suffer from poop issues for too long before seeking help.
Keep your body healthy and working properly may take some effort but is not difficult. Your body will give you signs when things aren’t right, such as less than perfect poo. Listen to what your body is telling you and act accordingly for best results.