We’re all human right? So, let’s not be shy about a very basic function of human life: pooping. Sure, we laugh and make lots of jokes about it. However, it’s really no laughing matter when your poop is not normal.
Most people don’t pay much attention to what’s going down (pun intended) and are just looking to get the job done. However, not paying attention to your poop could mean you’re missing critical health signals that may lead to significant complications.
It may not always be obvious but our poop is actually more than just a punchline; it’s actually one of the best indicators of how well the body’s systems are working.
When your poop isn’t right, it’s a sign that your systems are not right either. It could be because you ate too much, you have a virus, too much spicy food, or maybe even a digestive disease.
Understanding the Poop Process
Examining your poop is the first step. Since your number two presents itself in many forms it’s best to start with the physical appearance first. It can manifest itself in several shapes and colors. The preferred reference tool among specialists is the Bristol Stool Chart which we’ll discuss further down. It puts an illustration to the shape and consistency of what you’re about to flush.
The digestive process is the movement of food traveling down through your stomach to your intestines and down to your colon, then you pass the remaining waste from unusable food out the gate.
This process involves many aspects of your body including enzymes, hormones, blood flow, and more.
So when one of these systems or organs involved is off, your digestion suffers greatly. And where does this result show up? That’s right, your poop of course!
How to Identify Healthy Poop
How many times should we poop each day?
This is more of a relative question. Frequency varies from person to person so we can’t nail down a hard fast number to determine “normal”. Most experts will say at least three or more bowel movements per week is considered normal.Poop is more than a punchline, it's the best indicator of your health Click To Tweet
Going one to three times per day is considered pretty normal also. Pooping every other day is borderline normal, but if you experience discomfort or abdominal pain then the scales have tipped in the wrong direction.
Overall, consistency is the goal and it shows all systems are properly working. Consistency can be different for you so pay attention and you’ll notice when something is off internally.
What Your Poop Should Look Like
When your number two comes, it should ideally have a long, smooth “S” shape and remain connected. Drinking plenty of water and eating enough fiber will result in poops like this.
However, normal for you might have a consistency of smooth poop that is thin or broken into smaller poops. Experts agree that this is nothing to be concerned about unless you experience discomfort and is likely “normal” for you. The color should remain medium to dark brown though.
Now when it comes to smell it’s not all unpleasant. Bad smells are not actually a bad sign. That smell actually comes from toxins that are being drawn out of the body. There’s not a particular “normal” smell other than a mild stink in general. Just remember that you need to identify what’s normal for you by keeping an eye on it.
Something to be mindful of is if you notice a dramatic change in smell from mild to awful – this could indicate something serious going on internally. If it goes away after a couple of days it’s probably nothing to be concerned about. However, if it continues and doesn’t seem to let up, you may want to consider seeing your physician to get some eyes on it internally via a colonoscopy.
I mentioned the Bristol Stool Chart above so I know you’ve heard of it now. It was designed in the 1990’s as a way for physicians and patients alike to classify poop into one of seven categories.
It becomes very useful when you visit your doc because you’re able to find what “normal” is for you and then measure the difference. Then you can determine what might be causing the issue.
The Bristol Stool Scale: 7 Types of Poop
This scale was designed to help classify how your poop looks in partnership with how long it takes to “travel” through and the time it takes to form in the colon. Abnormal poop tends to fall into type 1 and 2, clear signs of constipation and poop getting stuck in the colon for too long. Types 6 and 7 show signs of diarrhea and poop moving too fast through the body.
Bristol Stool Scale (The Poop Scale)
Based on the official Bristol Stool Scale, the seven types of poop are:
- Type 1: Separate hard lumps, like nuts (hard to pass)
- Type 2: Sausage-shaped, but lumpy
- Type 3: Like a sausage but with cracks on its surface
- Type 4: Like a sausage or snake, smooth and soft
- Type 5: Soft blobs with clear-cut edges (passed easily)
- Type 6: Fluffy pieces with ragged edges, a mushy stool
- Type 7: Watery, no solid pieces, entirely liquid
The sweet spot is in the middle: type 4. Soft, S-shaped, and easy to pass, it’s the holy grail of bowel movements.
Types 1-2: Indicate constipation
Types 3-5: Ideal poop, especially 4
Types 6-7: Always abnormal and indicates diarrhea
How Long Should It Take to Poop Normally?
It shouldn’t take a long time and shouldn’t cause pain first and foremost. It also shouldn’t be broken into multiple little pieces and need lots of pushing to get it out. It should be very easy and just flow naturally. You should feel like you’ve completely emptied out your intestines.
11 Steps to Hit a Home Run with Your Poop
Most issues in your digestive system can be fixed or prevented with simple diet and lifestyle changes alone. If you don’t feel right and your poop is showing signs other than perfection, then you can look at the following list to determine where you might need to make adjustments. It might be all of these or just a few but take a close look.
- Remove all gluten from your diet. This is an important one. The most common sources are wheat, barley, rye, spelt and other grains. If you’re unsure if gluten is an issue just remove grains completely. You can add them back in one at a time and figure it out pretty quick. If you already have Crohn’s or another type of IBD, eliminate gluten and all grains right away.
- Eat a whole foods diet which consists of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables. These will provide your GI system with good fiber and nutrients. Most of your fiber should come from vegetables anyway.
- Eliminate inflammatory and processed foods such as artificial sweeteners, added sugar, MSG, caffeine (especially for IBD) and GMO’s. These will all inflame your digestive tract and compromise your immune system.
- Increase gut bacteria (or gut flora) by eating fermented foods like sauerkraut, pickles, goats milk kefir and add a probiotic that contains living organisms such as an SBO (soil based organisms) probiotic. You cannot get enough probiotics in your diet so be liberal here.
- Boost your fiber intake. Some people can tolerate psyllium husk powder well while others prefer organic flax-seed with IBD and Crohn’s. Regardless of IBD or not, you want to shoot for 50 grams of fiber per 1,000 calories.
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Drinking enough water is critical for poop perfection. Not drinking enough water can result in constipation and other symptoms that are not desired. Shoot for around half your body weight in ounces.
- Exercise daily no matter if it’s only 5 minutes. Exercise helps your digestive system move poop through more efficiently.
- Avoid any antibiotics and other pharmaceutical drugs as they will cause a variety of GI issues.
- Reduce stress is critical to a healthy poop. When stress levels are high your cortisol levels rise and all systems begin to slow down. The result can lead to constipation and even diarrhea. Try using the techniques listed here.
- Squat instead of sitting to move your poop better. Squatting has been proven to allow better flow. Medical studies even show that squatting reduces the need for straining which relieves constipation and hemorrhoids. Simply prop your feet up on a stool or stack of books to do this.
- Support your liver. Your liver is responsible for producing the bile that breaks down fat. When your liver is toxic the bile doesn’t produce normally and this causes a traffic jam in your digestive tract. Not only that but your body has a difficult time eliminating toxins from the body as a result. Therefore it is critical to support your liver with diet and exercise. You might even consider a complete liver cleanse to restore your liver to optimal health.
What’s one thing you plan to do to have a home run poop?