Defecation. Whether it be solid or runny, lumpy or smooth it’s an act we all participate in. In fact no mammal on earth can escape the true joy that comes from emptying one's bowels in the morning. But what differences are there in the way we poop? What does your poo say about you?
The Perfect Poo
What does the perfect poo look like? A typical poo is judged on a number of factors: Shape, size, smell and shade. It is also important to assess the pooing experience as a whole; time between poos, difficulty of the poo to pass and whether the whole poo exits.
Shape and Size
A clever man from Bristol named Ken Heaton has classified the physical properties of human faeces into 7 distinct categories.
This is the infamous Bristol stool chart, and I can say that from my 19 years of pooing experience I recognise a few familiar faeces above. As shown, the realm of the perfect poo is somewhere between type 3 and type 4. But what if you’re a type 1 or type 7, what are you doing wrong?
Type 1 poops generally mean you’re constipated, sometimes this can be due to medications such as antibiotics. However it can also be due to a change in diet, lower than normal fibre intake, or not drinking enough fluids. It could also be because your physical activity level has decreased which slows down your digestion. All this can cause hard, dry poos which are small and hard to pass.
Type 7 poops are basically diarrhoea, and they are a sign that your body is not absorbing enough water from your fecal matter. This is normal if due to infection, however could also be due to a number of other disease such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The best advice here is to drink lots of water so you don’t dehydrate and to contact your doctor if symptoms persist.
It may be surprising to hear that a smelly poop is a good one! The billions of bacteria that live in your gut are essential for the digestive process but also cause some pretty nasty smells. Having a smelly poo only indicates your digestive bacteria are doing their job.
Bile, produced in the liver, is what gives our turds that classic brown colour that we should all look out for. Any change in colour can signify something is wrong. Black turds are common if you’re taking iron vitamins or medication that contains bismuth subsalicylate. Otherwise a black poo can indicate internal bleeding which could be caused by an ulcer or cancer - so definitely get this checked out by a doctor.
Poos to Perform at Home
Healthy poos are all well and good, but what other kind of poos can I perform and how?
It’s everybody’s worst nightmare, you walked into the bathroom, lift the lid and there before you is your flatmates big brown floater. Of course you try flushing the toilet once, maybe even twice but the resilient bugger just keeps poking back up into the bowl. When you finally get rid of it maybe you want to get some revenge and brew up a floater of your own to annoy your flatmate? But how?
The most common causes of floaters are an excess of gas and poor absorption of nutrients. An excess of gas can be caused by eating foods which contain larger amounts of sugars, lactose, starch or fibre; these include beans, cabbage and soft drinks. Poorly absorbing nutrients is normal if caused by illness, diarrhoea or allergies such as lactose intolerance. So if you're lactose intolerant and eat a load of beans you’re in with a good chance of leaving the perfect present for your flatmates next trip to the bathroom! But how do you finally get rid of your floater? According to the student room, the best way to dispose of a floating poo is to mash it “with your mates toothbrush” - aren’t communal bathrooms fun?
Nothing can quite describe one’s amazement when looking down at a pristine, white piece of toilet paper after the first wipe. The one wipe wonder is perhaps the most satisfying poo you could take: time efficient, economical and good for the environment! Unfortunately one- wipe-wonders seem to be pretty rare. To increase your frequency, try eating foods high in fibre. Some sources also say that squatting on the toilet can help reduce wiping. While these methods don’t guarantee a single wipe, they should at least help to cut down.
All jokes aside, the act of defecation isn’t just a necessity, but an indicator of your health and it’s important to know what your poo can say about you!