Do you ever wonder if your stool is “normal”? Did you know your stool says a lot about your overall health? When your stool looks abnormal it is a good indication that something is not quite right with your body. The digestion process involves much more than simply the digestion organs. Hormones, enzymes and circulation are just a few of the many other aspects the digestive process is comprised of.
What is considered normal?
Typically individuals should be having a bowel movement 2-3 times each day. After every large meal we consume, a bowel movement should follow afterwards. This is because our bodies feed off of only the nutrients food provides leaving the remains as waste to be eliminated.
- Shape & Colour
A healthy bowel should appear as a medium brown “S” shape. This formation is the best indication of adequate fibre and hydration levels. There are times where our nutrition levels are in check, but the stool appears as smaller pieces rather than a curved shape. If this happens there is no need to be alarmed. The main aspect to keep an eye on is that the stool is well smooth and well formed.
Contrary to popular belief, a bowel movement should pass with ease in five minutes or less. There should be no need to use excessive force or strain your self at any time. If you do experience difficulty, this is often a sign of dehydration.
What are the causes of abnormality?
Listed below are the 4 most common reasons for changes in your stool:
High stress is linked to be one of the most common root causes of digestive complication as the brain and gut are very closely connected.
- Fibre Deficiency
Fibre is considered to be the “building block” of smooth healthy stool. Aside from being a necessity for formation, fibre also helps to move stool through the intestine.
- Inflammatory Foods
Often many people do not have symptoms associated when eating foods that they may be intolerant to. Sometimes symptoms are experienced but are very generic and difficult to determine. The more a person continues to consume these foods the more damage is caused to the digestive tract. This continuous damage can cause more serious conditions such as, leaky gut and autoimmune disorders.
- Alcohol & Caffeine
As you may be aware, hydration is essential for healthy stool formation. Alcohol and caffeine can be very dehydrating to the colon. With caffeine, many people experience an increase in bowel function while there are others who do experience the opposite effect.
How can you improve your stool health?
- Increase Fibre
Consume between 25-25 grams of fibre per day
- Stay Hydrated
Strive to drink between 6-8 glasses of water per day
- Improve your gut health
Taking good quality probiotics helps to improve gut health and maintain healthy bowel function
If you struggle with frequent constipation try adding Magnesium supplements. Magnesium not only softens stool, but is also a a natural muscle relaxer for the gut and abdomen.
- Stay active!
Routine physical activity is proven to improve the efficency of the digestive system. Regular exercise is also shown to improve mood while decreasing stress levels.
- Small, “pellets”of stool – indicates dehydration
- Black coloured stool – indicates excessive meat intake, or old stool
- Stool leaves residue on tube or basin – ‘sticky’ texture indicates lack of fiber, excessive consumption of processed foods, meat, dairy
- Brown fibrous, bulky stool, leaves no residue – healthy stool
- Pale coloured stool – indicates over-consumption of dairy food
- Bubbles – gas, toxins
- Foamy bubbles – fermentation, poor food combining, legumes or food staying in the body too long and fermenting
- Bright yellow water – toxicity, common to see when doing a detox program
- Bright orangey/brown water – ammonia/acidity
- Cloudy whitish appearance to water – candida/yeast
- White or off-white stringy stuff – mucous, mucoid plaques
- Pieces of mucous with tiny amounts of blood attached – indication of parasites
- Thick, opaque, ‘sludge’ – coming from the cecum or ascending colon – beginning of the colon
- Foul, offensive odour – indication of old toxic material
- Pieces of food – eating too fast/not chewing enough or improper digestion
Posted by Meaghan LaFranca, M.Sc, Nutritionist, Colon Therapist