How healthy is your poop
It may sound like a joke, but seriously, our poop is a good indicator of health and doctors have known about it for a long time.
In fact, every general practitioner in the country has a "poop table" in their operations to distinguish what is healthy looking poop and what is not. So that Dr. Gillian McKeith was really up to something while snooping around on the BBC show "You Are What You Eat" (yuk, how did she do that?).
There are three main aspects to healthy feces: frequency, shape, and color. While it is important to note that what is "normal" may vary from person to person, as a general guide it is ideal to have a bowel movement one to three times a day to three times a week, usually within half an hour of eating.
Frequency: We should all have at least one bowel movement every day. Some people may have two or three a day, which is fine if this is the norm for them (in fact, it can be a sign of a healthy metabolism and high-fiber diet). Most of the time when you have movement you should feel that you are completely, not partially, eliminated. If you have diarrhea or constipation for more than a week it is important to see a doctor as this can be a sign of bowel disease *
Form: Stools that are well-shaped and easy to pass through are considered "ideal," while stools that are heavy and difficult to pass through indicate constipation, and stools that contain excess fluid and are runny indicate diarrhea. Here is a handy poo chart called "The Bristol Stool Chart" that will help you determine whether or not your poop is looking healthy. The "best looking poop" has a nice tubular shape, like a long banana or a smooth snake, that won't break apart when flushed. Healthy feces come out with ease, smell more like super-ripe fruit than something rotting, and you hardly need to wipe off afterwards.
Colour: Medium to dark brown is the color that is ideal; a bit like milk chocolate! The color of your stool can change depending on what you eat. For example, someone who eats a lot of beetroot will have a reddish colored droppings, while eating a lot of green can give your droppings a greenish hue, which is a good thing! However, if your poop is a strange color for a few days, it is important to see your doctor. Red or black can indicate bleeding and diverticulitis, chronic inflammation, or even cancer, while green can be a sign of Crohn's disease or gallbladder. Hopefully none are relevant, however, and it's just the result of consuming heavily colored vegetables!
How to Achieve a Healthy Poo!
1 Eat healthy foods, like Motivation, which is high in leafy vegetables and low in processed, sugary foods. Abundant protein has also been shown to help keep your gut muscles strong, so a diet with small, regular protein inputs like ours is ideal. You can find more information about the importance of protein here.
2 Make sure that you add a healthy fat like a small amount of almonds or walnuts, a few slices of avocado, 4-5 olives or a serving of hummus or a tablespoon of olive oil in a dressing every day.
3 Increase your daily exercise. This has proven itself: Those who do sport every day or are just more active have a healthier bowel. If you want to get your bowels moving, you need to get moving: It's that simple. It can be as simple as a morning walk, a yoga class, or an exercise session – it doesn't matter what it is, as long as it is is activity. And if you can't defy nature, try our indoor exercise tips here.
4th Stop rushing! In our busy lives, we often rush around, ignoring our body and not letting it do what it needs to do. Make time to go to the bathroom in the morning – and do the same for your kids, even if it means setting the alarm only 10 minutes early.
5 Hydration is key. Water helps move things along our complex digestive system. Studies have shown that people who drink enough fluids (2 liters per day) are significantly less likely to get constipated. The large intestine actually needs fluid to make our stool. Did you know that chairs are 75% water ?! Another good reason to drink more water. If you need more reasons, click here to listen to our podcast on water.
So how healthy is your poop?
* Other signs of bowel disease include blood in your stool, persistent abdominal discomfort (such as cramps, gas, or pain), weakness or tiredness, and a feeling that you haven't completely emptied your bowels. These could include symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome or other less serious conditions, but it is important that you get them checked.