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What is your Poop telling you?

I know, I know... poop isn't something you want to talk about! In fact, it is usually an off-putting topic and people generally feel uncomfortable and embarrassing when they have to talk about it, even with their doctor. But, the truth is, your poop - from the shape, size, smell, and colour - can tell you so much about your overall health and wellbeing.  During different phases of our life, we may experience changing gastrointestinal behaviour, peri-menopause is one of these times. As a Naturopath and Medical Herbalist, gut health is one of the most important places to begin in discovering the underlying conditions your may be suffering from.

What is Normal Poop?

First of all, 'normal' differs from person to person. So, your 'normal' can be somebody's weird. You need to recognise what the regular frequency, texture, and smell of your bowel movements so that you can determine your normal poop. 

As a general rule, it is considered a good health requirement to poop daily, and ideally first thing in the morning. This is also something that varies from person to person. But, you should be aware of the fact that what you eat and the diet you follow plays an important role in frequency and consistency of your poop. In other words, your poop is literally what you eat and the ideal indicator of your health. 

Several other factors can also influence your bowel movement including physical activity, sleep deprivation, water consumption, hormonal imbalance, menopause, and medical treatments. So please keep this in mind. 

The Bristol Stool Chart

The Bristol Stool Chart describes seven types of poop categorised by texture and is used by medical professionals to classify bowel movements. Here's a brief outline of the 7 types of stool:

This means that: Types 1 and 2 suggest constipation, 3 and 4 are the perfect types of stool, whereas 5, 6, and 7 indicate diarrhoea. 

What is the Colour Telling You?

Namely, if your poop colour is anything else besides brown, it is normally due to the food you ate most recently though can indicate a serious health concern. 

Here's a basic guide on what your poop colour is telling you about your health:

  • Dark-coloured (almost black) - bleeding from higher in your gastrointestinal (GI) tract, stomach ulcer, or high iron levels;

  • Pale and clay-coloured (white) - problems with bile, either inability to get into your GI tract or not enough bile produced by the liver, indicating a stone or a tumour, hepatitis, or cirrhosis;

  • Red - blood in your stool from the intestines, suggesting polyp, diverticulitis, inflammation, or colon cancer;

  • Yellow - issues with fat digestion, suggests celiac disease or chronic pancreatitis;

  • Green - a usual sign of infection.

What is the Smell Telling You?

The truth is, stools have an unpleasant smell and that is completely normal no matter what colour or texture it is. This odour is due to the bacteria present in the colon needed for breaking down food. However, if the smell of your poop changes or you notice that it suddenly smells unbearable and abnormally bad, you should seek medical help and perhaps ask your doctor for a stool test to determine what is happening in your colon and intestinal tract. 

The extremely bad odour can be a result of an infection or even suggest colon inflammation due to inflammatory bowel disease, or indicate celiac disease, chronic pancreatitis, cystic fibrosis, or lactose intolerance. 

The Link between Stool and Certain Health Conditions

Your stool can also point out to some digestive conditions when specific problems appear together with other symptoms. Such digestive conditions include IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), Crohn's disease, and ulcerative colitis. 

IBS, which is a very commonly diagnosed colon disorder, that encompasses a range of symptoms. can be identified when a person experiences bout of constipation or diarrhoea, or sometimes even both, excess gas, and stomach pain. It is important to note that finding out the underlying reason you have these symptoms is the first step in recovery.

Crohn's is the chronic autoimmune disease characterised by inflammation of bowel which results in chronic diarrhoea, significant weight loss, lower abdominal pain, and fever. Any part of the digestive system may be impacted.

Similarly to Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory condition characterised by inflammation in the rectum that later spreads to other parts of the colon and results in chronic diarrhoea with traces of blood.

Final Thoughts

It’s no surprise that your number two can tell you lots about your health. Monitoring your poop is the perfect way to detect some serious health conditions in the early stages and to determine any changes needed within your diet or lifestyle. 

So, next time you go to the toilet, take a closer look at what you see, and smell, before you flush!

There are lots of treatments available to help with any of these conditions, with food as medicine being the most important. Herbal therapy, supplementation if undernoushised, and lifestyle measures are all part of my treatment plans for gut issues.

If you would like to book an appointment you can do so here

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