This doesn’t make for great dinner talk, but it’s a subject that really needs to be addressed. Understanding what your poop is telling you is a lot more scientific than the art of divination from the Harry Potter series; peering into your pot will not hold any dark omens, but it could give you valuable insight into your nutrition, gastrointestinal health, and general wellbeing. Recognizing what’s normal for you in terms of bowel movement, makes it easier for you to spot potential health problems early on, as you will instantly notice dramatic or consistent changes in stools, from poop color to consistency.
What Your Bowel Movement Means
1. Hard and Fragmented
“You probably have a fiber deficiency”
If your poop is hard and in little pieces it means that you are constipated, irrespective of whether you pass stools fairly easily and have regular bowel movements. This kind of poop is telling you that you that you need more fiber in your diet. To do this, you should eat more fruits, veggies, and whole grains; it will also help to consume a small amount of psyllium husk daily.
2. Black or Bright Red
“You could have hemorrhoids or something more serious like peptic ulcers or colon cancer”
Black or red poop can be indicative of something as serious as a pectic ulcer or colon cancer, or it could be a sign of something non-threatening but problematic like hemorrhoids. A sudden change in your stools from normal to black or red stools should be investigated promptly. At times, it could simply be caused by dietary changes or certain medications, but it is best to play it safe.
3. Loose But Not Liquid
“You may be suffering from celiac disease”
Consistently passing stools that are not firm, but not liquid either could be indicative of celiac disease. The condition affects only a small percentage of India’s population and your bowel movement is often the only indication of the disease. The condition involves a gluten allergy that destroys villi in the intestines, causing poor absorption of nutrients, resulting in loose stools, possibly multiple times in a day. In such a scenario, it would actually make sense to try out a gluten free diet.
“You probably have fiber malabsorption because of an allergy or infection”
If your stools float like life buoys, it could mean that you have a problem of fat malabsorption from your diet. This could occur because of certain food allergies, gastrointestinal infections, or pancreatic inflammation, which can reduce levels of digestive enzymes or damage intestinal lining, thereby impeding fat absorption. At times this may also occur because of gas buildup from eating a lot of beans or sprouts, in which case you have nothing to worry about.
5. Foul Odor
“You could be suffering from a parasitic infection called giardia”
Yes, poop normally stinks, but if your toilet starts to smell like there’s a decomposing carcass or like rotten eggs after bowel movements, it’s not entirely normal! There’s a good chance that this could be a sign of a parasitic infection called giardia, which can easily be picked up from swimming in fresh water bodies or drinking unpurified water. The condition can be easily treated by your general physician, but you may need to get a stool sample tested for diagnosis.
“You might be suffering from constipation or something more serious like colorectal cancer”
Thin and stringy stools are not normal on a regular basis, but if occasional it may simply mean that you have a fiber deficiency and are straining to pass stools, narrowing the passage for stools because the muscles in the anal sphincter do not open completely. If this is a regular occurrence however, it could be a warning sign of colorectal cancer, in which the presence of a tumor causes narrowing of the passage for stools, making them thin and stringy.
7. Green and Liquid
“You may have a dangerous bacterial infection with clostridium difficile that often sets in following antibiotic use”
Green and watery stools are usually indicative of a bacterial infection with clostridium difficile, not demonic possession! Ironically, the infection often sets in on account of heavy usage of antibiotics. If you recently suffered from an infection that required antibiotic treatment, this could cause an imbalance in gut bacteria that allows levels of clostridium difficile to rise. If you experience such stools, visit your doctor immediately, as the condition can lead to severe dehydration and can be fatal if left untreated.
8. Smooth, Soft, & Tubular
“You’re in the clear and have nothing to worry about!”
Healthy bowel movements are effortless and although your stools will never smell pleasant, they won’t stink up the loo. Bowel movements vary among individuals, but by and large, healthy stools have a firm, but soft consistency and will be passed easily. They are also brown in color because of the presence of bile, which is used in the digestive process.
Now that you have a better understanding of what your bowel movements are telling you, it doesn’t mean that you should panic at the first sign of trouble. Minor disturbances in bowel movements are normal, and it’s only consistent or prolonged changes lasting for more than a few days that need to be looked into.
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