What is Your Poop Telling You?
We may all be adults here but there are some subjects we still feel embarrassed talking about, and bowel movements is one of them. The list of funny names we call our excrement is nearly as long as the things about us it may reveal. Some equate examining our poop to the ancient art of reading tea leaves. So, pull up a stool, have a seat and let’s get down to business.
Important stuff you need to know:
Stool color is important and can be an indicator of serious health conditions that may need immediate attention. For instance, if your stool is bright red or black this may indicate the presence of blood. Please seek medical attention. Your stool reflects what you eat and the color will change accordingly, but not all colors or changes are normal. Yellow means something different than green, which means something different than brown. Admit it, you peek in the bowl; please share the information with your health care provider. It’s significant.
It is not normal to not poop every day, after all, you eat every day. If you aren’t regular – and daily is regular- where is the poop hiding? You only have so many feet of intestines. The perfect poop is a well formed, golden brown stool and should make an appearance about 3 hours after a meal, but if you have a successful visit once per day most doctors would consider that to be in the normal range too. Ongoing constipation or diarrhea may be a sign of a more serious condition. Surprisingly, there are many non-gastrointestinal conditions related to irregular bowel movements. A common complaint of thyroid patients is digestive distress.
Shape matters. There is even an “official” identification chart used by practitioners called The Bristol Stool Chart. Pooping pebbles? Sounds like you may be constipated. The question you need to ask is why. Is it because of illness or are you eating an unhealthy diet? Pooping fluffy pieces or something closer to brown pee equals diarrhea. Again, the important question is why. Unfortunately, IBS patients suffer frequent bouts of diarrhea and are often afraid to engage in life because of the constant fear of embarrassing accidents.
Using the expression “I feel like crap” can actually be fairly accurate. Your brain and digestive tract are intimately related. As a matter of fact, the gut is often called the second brain. So when your emotional health is in the can it may very well have everything to do with your poopy poop process. By creating a sort of electrical circuit between your brain base and gut, your Vagus Nerve, the longest of your cranial nerves, tells your brain when food has been ingested and digested. Any interruption in this circuitry can cause serious problems like a loss of muscular function in the stomach and intestines, sending you running or doubled over in pain.
Although your body has many subtle ways of giving you signs about your health, your stool carries perhaps the biggest load of information. Color, consistency, sinking or swimming, all attributes are important. So, what is your poop telling you?