What Your Poop Is Telling You About Your Body
While pooping may not be the first wellness topic you and your pals chat about over brunch, the quality of your No. 2 warrants serious discussion—after all, the texture, color, and frequency can reveal a whole lot about your health. Whether your poop is green or brown, watery or pebble-like, there's often a relatively simple explanation (and solution) for what's going on.
First, what should "normal" poop look like?
While "normal" bowel movements can certainly vary, they should generally follow some basic criteria: "Poop can range in shapes from what I'll call bunny poops, which indicate constipation, to a thick pipe (ideal), to watery, which indicates either an infection, too little fiber, or some kind of food sensitivity or reaction," functional medicine physician Wendie Trubow, M.D., told mbg. "Poop can be a number of colors as well depending on what you are eating (which you know if you've ever eaten beets!) but tends toward shades of brown, from light to dark."
Here, take a look at what your poop's shape, texture, and color can indicate about your body and overall health:
Still not sure if your poop is healthy?
In addition to the infographic above, you can consult the Bristol Stool Chart, a science-based scale outlining different "types" of poop (from Type 1 to Type 7) based on shape and texture, and what they indicate: Types 1 and 2 indicate constipation, Types 3 and 4 are considered normal, and Types 5 to 7 indicate diarrhea and urgency. Here's a brief explainer:
- Type 1: Hard small lumps that look almost like little pebbles and are hard to pass. This type of poop indicates you're constipated and may need more water and fiber in your diet.
- Type 2: Log-shaped but lumpy and a bit hard. This type also indicates constipation.
- Type 3: Log-shaped with a few cracks on the surface and easy to pass. This type of bowel movement is considered normal.
- Type 4: Smooth and snake-like, and easy to pass. This is also normal.
- Type 5: Soft blobs with clear cut edges that are very easy to pass. This may mean you're lacking soluble fiber, the type of fiber that helps bulk up stool.
- Type 6: Fluffy, mushy pieces with ragged edges that can be an indicator of mild diarrhea.
- Type 7: Watery with no solid pieces. This is a clear indicator of diarrhea (i.e., stool moving through your bowels very quickly).
In addition to color and texture, it's also important to consider how often you're pooping. "Everyone should have at least one bowel movement per day. However, it is normal to have up to three bowel movements daily, one after each meal," Vincent Pedre, M.D., integrative gut health specialist, told mbg. Going more or less than that? Read this article to find out why. Everyone may have a different “normal” bowel pattern but it is important to understand that if you have a change in bowel habits or you are seeing black tarry stools or red blood in the stool, you need to seek immediate medical attention.
Any "extreme" in your poop's texture, color, or frequency indicates there may be a problem. In other words: If your BM feels hard or painful, urgent or liquidy, nonexistent or excessive, or if its color makes you gasp (and you haven't eaten beets or loads of leafy greens), holler at your doctor. They can run a stool panel test and refer you to a gastroenterologist if necessary.
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