Is My Poop Normal?
Is my poop normal?
This topic may be uncomfortable, but it’s so important for you to know what makes a healthy “poop” because it can tell you a lot about your digestion. And if your digestion is off, this could be an indication that something else is going on that you need to address. I know you are either dying to dive into this post, or feeling like you want to close this and forget I ever mentioned it.
Which one will it be?
Okay, glad you stayed along for the ride.
I’m serious about this topic! 20% of the population struggles with constipation, and diarrhea can be a serious condition. (And don't you sometimes wonder anyway?) There’s so much information to be gained about your health from paying attention to your poo! Bathroom talk is considered a private matter and even rude to speak of, but healthy bowel movements are an important part of a healthy life.You already know that your poop can reflect your physical, and sometimes even emotional health. You may 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.
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)? Meet the Bristol Stool Scale. The Bristol Stool Scale was created at the prestigious University of Bristol in the UK back in 1997. You can see the chart here. The Bristol stool chart is the standard basic assessment tool that anyone can use to identify the general health of their bowel movements. According to this chart, stool is categorized into seven types, which range on a scale from significant constipation to significant diarrhea. The low end of the scale signifies stool that is very dry, as the result of sitting in the colon for weeks. On the high end of the spectrum is stool that has too much water, as the result of moving through the body too quickly. A healthy bowel movement falls in the middle of this scale, at 4 or a 5.
The scale breaks down type of poop into seven different categories ranging from type 1, which is very constipated, to type 7, which is diarrhea:
1 - Separate hard lumps (very constipated). Possible dehydration, microbiome bacteria imbalance, or lack of fiber.
2 - Lumpy and sausage-like (slightly constipated). Possible dehydration or microbiome bacteria imbalance. Extra fiber probably won’t help.
3 - Sausage shaped with cracks in the surface (“normal” range).
4 - Smooth, soft sausage (ideal!). The larger size usually means higher amount of fiber in diet. Transit time = 72 hours.
5 - Soft blobs with clear-cut edges. Can be ideal for fast digester, or may be mild diarrhea, or not enough fiber.
6 - Mushy consistency with ragged edges (diarrhea). Spices, stress, stimulants, or laxatives may be the cause.
7 - Liquid consistency with no solid pieces (inflammation). Also, the body’s short-term self-protection against pathogens and toxins.
Constipation can be caused by a variety of factors, including:
● Lack of dietary fiber
● Low-carb diets
● Too much dairy
● Lack of exercise/movement
Using this chart, identify which of the seven categories best describes your stool on an average day.
Answer the following questions and gain further insight into what your bowel movements may be telling you.
How many bowel movements do you have? Per day? Per week?
Do you have a certain time of day or routine for when and how you typically have a bowel movement?
What’s the color of your stool on an average day?
Do you typically strain or experience paint while trying to pass a bowel movement?
Does your stool typically sink or float?
After passing stool, do you typically feel like you were able to get it all out?
Have you regularly taken laxatives or stool softeners?
How would you describe the consistency of your stools?
Keep a list of any uncomfortable feelings, symptoms, or anything else you would you would like to discuss with a health professional.
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. What is normal poop color? It should be brown from the bile that you need to break down the fats you ingest. Normal green poop? 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. Visible mucus might signify dehydration, constipation, or inflammation.
In a perfect world, your poop should sink to the bottom of the toilet. Floaters often signify malabsorption, infections, high fat content, or excess gas. Undigested food or food passing sooner than 24 hours implies possible malabsorption of nutrients. And the smell varies from person to person and meal to meal.
Gas is normal! But, if constant and uncomfortable, it might be a sign of unwanted bacteria overgrowth, eating too fast, or eating too many hard-to-digest foods. Bloating is a sign of excess gas.
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.
If you know you need to get more fiber or water, then try increasing that.
If you haven’t had enough probiotic foods, then try getting more of them.
If you’re super-stressed, then try deep breathing, meditating, or having a warm bath. Check out more tips here >>>
Have you heard of the Squatty Potty? Do yourself a favor and get one. Squatting is actually the proper form.
Slowing down in the morning can help get things moving. Try water with lemon, simple stretches, or yoga.
A little self-massage never heart anyone ;) Massage your intestines with two fingers in concentric circles using coconut oil or castor oil.
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!
Laxatives can be used if you haven’t gone in 2-3 days (remember the “normal” transit time is 72 hours). Remember, they are a temporary fix and not a long-term solution. The don’t address the root cause of the issue and they can be damaging and even create a dependency, if abused.
Of course, long-term issues might require a more thorough review with a qualified health care practitioner. Don't suffer from poop issues for too long before seeking help.
A reliable way to monitor how you feel after eating certain foods is to track it. After every meal or snack, write down the foods you ate, and any symptoms so you can more easily spot trends. Here’s a free download I created for you…
Recipe (dairy-free probiotic): Super-Simple Coconut Milk Yogurt (serves 6)
2 cans full-fat coconut milk
2 probiotic capsules
1. Open the probiotic capsules and empty contents into the blender. Blend with coconut milk.
2. Transfer to a sanitized glass jar (make sure it’s not still hot - you don’t want those probiotics to die).
3. Store it in a warm place for 24-48 hours. If it's not thick enough for you, you can let it ferment for another 24 hours.
4. Add your favorite yogurt toppings, and store the rest for up to a week in the fridge.
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: Fermenting food is not an exact science. If this doesn’t work out as you’d like it to, try different brands of coconut milk and/or probiotics.
Leave a comment below and share your experience. Join our private Facebook Group here >>> and get more. And I’d love to stay connected!
Thank you for being here on this journey with me. I'm truly honored you're here.
I’m a small town Oregonian, a scientist, an integrative nutrition health coach, and a crunchy mom. Passionate about natural living, long distance cycling, cooking with my littles, kick boxing, cashew milk ice cream + margaritas (skinny, on the rocks - salt, please!).
My passion is helping people conquer their wellness goals and create a more natural, sustainable lifestyle. My love of nature and natural remedies have led me to dive deep into essential oils and creating simple, all natural household and personal care products on my own. My blog started on a simple premise of sharing my journey to a more natural lifestyle, including the science behind many natural remedies, DIY recipes, tips, and ways to save money using plant-based alternatives. Now, as I emerge from my health coach training program, I have married my passion to my purpose, combining all aspects of health and wellness with a holistic approach to create a platform that delivers online tools that bring you into alignment with where you want to be.
I don’t promote diets, fitness, or weight loss as a goal - I encourage my clients to seek out what works for their individual body chemistry + spirit. We will look at how all parts of your life affect your health as a whole.
I am so happy you are here, and I look forward to getting to know you. Learn more >>>
I am not a doctor. I am not here to diagnose, treat, or cure any of your illnesses. The content I share is for informational purposes only.
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