Is This Shit Normal?
Yes, I'm seriously asking! (And don't tell me you haven't sometimes asked yourself the same question, too!)
If you didn't already know, that steamer you dropped in the pot this morning 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 stressing our over something. And what about fiber and water? If you’re not getting enough of either, your poop will definitely let you know.
Have you wondered about those all-important gut microbes we are supposed to have? Well, the stuff you hear is true, and if those little buggers aren't happy, they'll probably send you a message via your porcelain throne, too.
Here’s a bit of trivia you probably didn't know:
There is an “official” standard for poop!!!
Can you believe it? I mean a real, honest to god, university-created chart! In fact, it's one that's been 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 scale categorizes the type of 'plop you drop' into a seven layer spectrum ranging from type-1 (which is very constipated), to type-7 (which is diarrhea) as follows:
1 - Separate hard lumps (very constipated). 2 - Lumpy and sausage-like (slightly constipated). 3 - Sausage shaped with cracks in the surface (normal)
4 - Smooth, soft sausage (normal). 5 - Soft blobs with clear-cut edges (lacking fiber). 6 - Mushy consistency with ragged edges (inflammation). 7 - Liquid consistency with no solid pieces (inflammation).
Other “crap-tastic” 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.
And the color? It should be brown from the bile that you need to break down the fats you ingest.
And 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 past day or two, you probably want to get that checked out.
What should you do when you've laid a less than "perfect" 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; even if you have to use a supplement.
If you’re super-stressed, then try deep breathing, meditating, hitting the gym or treadmill to burn off some of that cortisol.
Oh, and don’t forget the two most basic pieces of nutrition advice:
1) Eat a variety of nutrient-dense, minimally processed foods, including a lot of fruits & vegetables (Don't whine. Just do it). The fiber in them 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.)
2) Eat slowly. You are not a wolf and your food certainly isn't going to run away from you. So, chew thoroughly and eat mindfully.
These are good habits for anyone and everyone, even when you have perfect poop!
Of course, long-term issues might require a more thorough review with a qualified health care practitioner. So, if that's the case with you; it's best not wait too long before seeking help.