That’s Right, We’re Talking S*%t
Written by George Economou
(Originally published in September 2012)
You’ve got options when it comes to evaluating your health. You can assess your feelings, or get labs run on your blood, urine, or saliva. And there’s another option right under your nose…OK, well hopefully not right under, but your poop can be a great indicator of the status of your health.
Here’s a quick list of reasons why people have a difficult time talking about poop:
It smells bad…sometimes really bad.It is sometimes accompanied by a trumpet-like sound from your butt.Even though everybody does it, you don’t want anyone to know that you do it.Your poop may be different, so it’s embarrassing.
What Can Your Poop Tell You?
Great, so now that we got that out of the way we shouldn’t have any issues moving forward. Aside from telling/showing you that you’ve recently eaten corn, looking at our poo can also give us clues about the following (among other things):
Hydration/DehydrationFood sensitivityDigestion efficiencyAbnormal gut flora
(Disclaimer – If after reading this you think you need help with your poop, I encourage you to seek help from a medical professional – and by all means please don’t bring it to the gym for a second opinion.)
What Should Your Poop Look Like?
There are a couple of good reference scales I like to use when poop talking: The Bristol Stool Scale (below), and Paul Chek’s “Poopie Line Up” (above).
Your primary care physician is probably more familiar with the Bristol Stool Scale, but it isn’t nearly as fun as the Poopie Line-Up.
Interpreting the Bristol Scale
Type 1 – Rabbit turds are for rabbits. If you’re pooping pebbles, it could be that you’re dehydrated, or that your gut flora or bacteria may be out of balance.
Type 2 – Like a condensed type 1, meaning that it’s probably sitting in your colon for a longer period of time…not good. Poop shouldn’t hang out in the body for more than 72 hours. Build-up like this can start pushing up against other things and cause discomfort and impede other body functions. The diameter of the poop also won’t feel good coming out.
Type 3 – OH BOY! This is constipation to the max – not healthy. Aside from a desperate need for fiber, you’re also looking at chronic dehydration and severe gut-imbalance issues.
Type 4 – Good poops for the once-a-day type person.
Type 5 – Good poops for a two or three times-a-day type of person, likely after meals.
Type 6 – Borderline not-so-good. This is like a rushed Type 5…should be a Type 5 but it was rushed. It may have been rushed because of a food sensitivity (caffeine?), or stress.
Type 7 – Something is definitely wrong. This is how the body reacts when it’s trying to rid itself of toxic substances.
Paul Chek’s Poopie Line-Up
(from right to left)
The Policeman – The ideal in poops. It’s well shaped, easy to pass, light brown in color, smells earthy, and about 12” in length (per day . . . could be one of 12”, 2 of 6”, 3 of 4”, etc).
The Flasher – You’re seeing bits of breakfast, lunch or dinner. Means that food isn’t being digested for some reason – not good. Could be a sign of food intolerance, an inflammatory disorder of the gut, low stomach acid, or that you’re not chewing enough (and if I had to guess, I suspect 95% of you aren’t chewing enough).
Diarrhella – Similar to Type 7, you’re body is trying to rid itself of something toxic. Not only bad because you have something bad inside of you, but it also leads to dehydration since your body will find water from wherever it needs to in order to facilitate Diarrhella’s exit.
Pellet Man – Type 1.
The Bodybuilder – Type 2.
The Olympic Swimmer – Lighter in color than the Policeman, indicating a higher fat content. The undigested fats could be a sign that stools are passing too quickly, or that your bile salts aren’t breaking down the fats.
Mr. Sinker ‘n’ Stinker – Paul considers this persistent little guy one of the worst offenders and attributes his presence to too much processed foods, toxic environment, or medical drugs (think anesthesia).
These are two different interpretations of poo, but we see some common threads. A summary of what healthy poop should be like:
Light brown color – not too dark, not too light.Smells like poo, but not like death and poo.Soft, well formed, and consistent in shape and color.Easy and satisfying to pass.12 inches a day.Transit time (mouth to out) should be between 12-18 hours.
*An easy, and fun, test to check transit time would be to eat beets and see how long it takes till you poop purple/red!
How to Improve Your Poop
Here are some tips on how you can improve your poop:
Chew your food. Hard to chew means hard to digest. If the food bits are too big, your stomach acids won’t be able to fully break them down and those macronutrients won’t be as available for your small intestines to absorb.Drink water. General rule is half your weight in ounces per day, plus replace whatever you lose while working out.Fiber or Fats. For slow poop transit time, eat more fiber (supplement, or just eat more veggies). For fast poop transit time, eat more protein and fat to slow the digestive process.Digestive enzymes. Digestive enzymes help you breakdown foods. Remember, all of those awesome nutritious foods you are eating only help your body if you are able to digest them and absorb the nutrients.Probiotics. Probiotics bring balance back to your gut. These good bacteria help to keep pathogens (harmful microorganisms) in check, aid digestion and nutrient absorption, and contribute to immune function.
If you’d like more help with your poop, or recommendations on enzymes, probiotics (We recommend SEED), or getting your poop analyzed by putting it in the mail, drop us a line. I can’t speak for everyone, but I know a few coaches who love talking poop.
Also Check Out…
Gut Health in a Nutshell
Your Gut 101