11 Reasons You Should Pay Attention to Your Poop
In our pursuit of good health, we often overlook the body’s unique methods of communicating vital information. One such overlooked aspect is our feces. Typically, it’s a subject we’d rather avoid discussing, but today, we’ll shed light on why paying closer attention to this bodily function is essential.
1. Black stool
Stools appearing black can be attributed to consuming dark-colored foods or beverages like beetroots or iron supplements. On the flip side, they could also signal potential bleeding in the upper gastrointestinal tract.
Suppose your stool is not only black but also emits a foul odor. This might be a red flag for underlying health issues, including conditions like peptic ulcers, gastritis, inflammation, or colon polyps. In such cases, seeking medical advice is crucial, and your doctor may suggest diagnostic procedures like endoscopy or colonoscopy to pinpoint the source of the problem.
2. Yellow-colored stool
The stool’s natural brown hue results from the presence of bilirubin and bile. Bilirubin is formed in the liver, stemming from the breakdown of red blood cells, and it mingles with bile in the gallbladder. This bilirubin-bile combination ultimately enters the intestines, where gut bacteria break it down and expel it through feces or urine.
While a diet rich in fats is a common cause of yellowish stools, their coloration can also be linked to various health issues. These encompass liver and gallbladder disorders, pancreatic problems, celiac disease, Gilbert’s syndrome, giardiasis, high stress levels, and an unhealthy diet, as indicated by experts.
3. Reddish-yellow stool
The occurrence of red-colored stool can indeed be perplexing and raise concerns. While it is occasionally attributed to ingesting red-colored foods or products containing dyes (such as Pepto-Bismol with bismuth), it could also signal bleeding in the lower gastrointestinal tract. This type of bleeding might be linked to various factors such as hemorrhoids, colon fissures, intestinal inflammation, or bleeding originating in the stomach or intestines.
Suppose you observe bright red streaks on toilet paper or within the toilet bowl, especially in conjunction with pain or itching. In that case, it is more likely associated with hemorrhoids or anal fissures. In some cases, it may be a consequence of intestinal inflammation. However, if red stools are accompanied by symptoms like fever and a general sense of discomfort, or if the blood appears clotted or granulated like coffee grounds, experts advise seeking immediate medical attention, as these symptoms could indicate internal bleeding within the digestive tract.
4. Green-colored stool
It’s essential to recognize that you’re not alone if you’ve ever been surprised by an unusual touch of green in your stool following a trip to the restroom. As Dr. Lee explained, stool color and tone can naturally fluctuate from one day to the next. This variation is perfectly normal, reflecting the ever-changing dynamics within your body. But what factors contribute to these variations?
- The consumption of green-hued foods, such as broccoli, kale, and spinach, is the most probable cause of passing green stools. This green coloration is attributed to chlorophyll, a natural pigment in these vegetables that can tint your stool.
- Antibiotic use can impact your digestion and lead to changes in the color of your stools. This is because antibiotics can disrupt the balance of bacteria in your digestive system, potentially causing your stool to appear greenish. Moreover, certain medications can irritate your stomach, leading to diarrhea that may have a greenish hue due to the presence of bile.
- Alterations in the color of your stool may indicate the presence of an infection or underlying health issue. A greenish tint in your stool could indicate a bacterial, viral, or parasitic infection, potentially causing a rapid passage of intestinal contents and unabsorbed bile. In such instances, these substances may not be adequately absorbed in the intestines, producing green or watery stools.
5. White stool
Stools that appear white or clay-colored are unusual and can indicate a severe health issue. This discoloration occurs when the liver fails to produce bile or when bile does not flow into the small intestine to aid in the digestion of food. Bile, an essential digestive fluid generated by the liver and stored in the gallbladder, typically imparts the stool with its normal brown hue during digestion.
Conditions affecting the liver, such as hepatitis or cirrhosis, could potentially lead to the development of white stools. Moreover, specific medications and substances, including barium used in digestive tract X-rays and certain antacids containing aluminum hydroxide, may also alter stool color. When white stools are observed, it is crucial to seek prompt medical attention to determine the underlying cause.
6. Soft and smooth stool
Typically, a healthy stool is characterized by a cylindrical shape resembling a sausage, roughly the width of a banana, and measures between 4 to 8 inches in length. When flushed, it should retain its form while containing an appropriate balance of water and nutrients. Ideally, the consistency is akin to soft ice cream. Additionally, maintaining a healthy and regular bowel system implies having a bowel movement at intervals ranging from one to three days.
7. Hard, pellet-like stool
When your stool appears tiny, firm and resembles pellets, it’s likely an indication of constipation or infrequent bowel movements. This condition typically arises due to a diet lacking fiber, along with other factors like insufficient hydration and physical inactivity. Additionally, constipation can be triggered by specific medications or underlying medical issues that impact normal bowel function.
8. Liquid poop
In cases where your stool turns into a watery, uncontrolled discharge, it’s a more severe stage of diarrhea. This condition results from irritation in the small intestine, leading to unprocessed fluid passing through the body. While a portion of this fluid might get absorbed in the large intestine, the majority accumulates in the rectum, leading to abrupt and intense diarrhea.
9. Feces with poorly defined edges
When your stools become soft and contain fluffy particles, it’s an initial phase of diarrhea. This can happen when your colon expels stool rapidly, often due to sudden dietary changes, increased physical activity, or exposure to stressful situations. Managing the urgency or timing of bowel movements can be challenging during loose stools.
In times of stress or when the body undergoes shifts in dietary habits and physical activity levels, stool may pass through the digestive system more swiftly than usual. If it doesn’t spend sufficient time in the intestines, it may not undergo proper processing and may retain excess water and unabsorbed nutrients.
10. Cracked stool
When your stools have a sausage-like shape with surface cracks, you may be dealing with mild constipation resulting from dietary choices or extended periods of sitting. These types of stools often appear in cases of functional constipation, which are linked to dietary or lifestyle factors. They might suggest that the stool has spent approximately seven days in the colon before being evacuated.
11. Drop-shaped stool
If your stool exhibits a soft, drop-shaped form with well-defined edges, it falls into slightly loose stools. People with two to three bowel movements daily, especially after substantial meals, may frequently experience this kind of stool. These soft, droplet-like stools are usually passed with ease and little effort.
12. Quickly sinking stool
If you notice that your stool promptly sinks to the bottom of the toilet bowl, it might indicate that your diet lacks fluid and fiber intake. Such stools often appear darker in color as they spend more time within the intestinal tract. The FDA suggests a daily fiber intake of approximately 28 grams for optimal digestive health. You can achieve this through a diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and unsalted nuts and seeds, as these are excellent sources of dietary fiber.
13. Floating stool
Occasional floating stools are generally nothing to be overly concerned about, as they are often the result of a higher gas content in the stool. This can occur due to factors like the consumption of carbonated beverages, beans, or sugary foods. However, if your stools consistently float, it might indicate an issue with fat absorption in your body. It is advisable to consult a healthcare professional if you observe this as a recurring concern.
Achieving perfect, 100% health may be elusive, but dedicating time to self-care remains invaluable. However, certain habits we often view as beneficial can actually harm our well-being.