What Your Poo is Trying to Tell You

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Poop, the good old number two; everyone does it. It’s a healthy part of being a living animal, and it turns out it can tell you a lot about your body and how your body is reacting to your diet. The important things to consider when observing your stool (a scientific word for poo) are the color, shape, and ease of passage.

Stool color covers the spectrum, but only some colors are considered normal. The Puristat website agrees:

The color of your stool can tell you all sorts of things about the health of your digestive system, ranging from what you ate the previous night to having dangerous bleeding in your colon.

Gastroenterologist Michael F. Picco M.D. states that:

All shades of brown and even green are considered normal. 

Only rarely does stool color indicate a potentially serious intestinal condition.

Stool color is generally influenced by what you eat as well as by the amount of bile — a yellow-green fluid that digests fats — in your stool. As bile pigments travel through your gastrointestinal tract, they are chemically altered by enzymes — changing the pigments from green to brown.

Both websites agree; brown and green are good colors for poo. Colors divergent from brown or green are a strong reason to go see the doctor. While some abnormal colors are more serious than others, all indicate a problem with the digestive tract. Black and any shade of red indicate bleeding within the system and lighter colors indicate a blockage of the bile duct or a lack of bile for some other reason.

Related Article: Salamba Sirsasana: It’s Time to do a Headstand!

The shape of your poo is also important. The Bristol Stool Chart defines 7 different types of stool with descriptions. The Continance Foundation of Australia explains the chart saying:

Every person will have different bowel habits, but the important thing is that your stools are soft and easy to pass – like types 3 and 4 below.

  • Type 1–2 indicate constipation
  • Type 3–4 are ideal stools as they are easier to pass, and
  • Type 5–7 may indicate diarrhoea and urgency.

I was strongly under the impression that a daily bowel movement was important for the digestive systems health. However, a helpful page on constipation and impaction, reviewed by the Harvard Medical School, informed me that:

Normally, people have bowel movements at fairly regular intervals, and stool passes out of the body easily without much straining or discomfort. Although the normal frequency of bowel movements varies from person to person, about 95% of healthy adults have a pattern that ranges from three times a day to three times a week.

The ease of passing a bowel movement can be affected by the amount of fiber, and fluids in a diet, or by the amount of exercise or medication in one’s life. For more information on how to keep normal, easy bowel movements head over to the Intelihealth page about constipation and impaction.

Related Article: AI Prescribes Better Treatment than Doctors

Another factor that can also be an indication of a health problem is the smell of your stool. Stool is not a generally pleasant smelling byproduct, but if it starts to smell particularly foul for an extended period of time, consider the factors at hand. If there has been no change in your diet it might be time to see a doctor.

 

 

 

Sources:

The New York Times- Looking Beyond Fiber to Stay ‘Regular’

Harvard Medical School Reviewed- Constipation and Impaction

Puristat- Understanding Bowel Movement Stool Color

Mayo Clinic- Stool Color: When to Worry

MD Health- Stool Color Chart

Bristol Stool Chart

The Continance Foundation of Australia

Medline Plus- Stools Foul Smelling

 

Extra Reading for those Interested:

PLOS ONE- An In-Depth Analysis of a Piece of Shit: Distribution of Schistosoma mansoni and Hookworm Eggs in Human Stool

NDDIC- Gas in the Digestive Tract

io9- This scientific article about poop may have the best title in the history of peer-reviewed research (possibly NSFW figures)

The American Gastroenterological Association- Understanding Constipation: A Patient’s Guide from Your Doctor

National Institutes of Health- Let’s Talk About Bowel Control

Mayo Clinic- Frequent Bowel Movements

Instructables- Unicorn Poop Cookies

For Humanity’s Sake, Wash Your Hands! And Look Good Doing It!

Do you use hot water when you wash your hands? Do you spend longer than 10 seconds when washing your hands? Or are you the type of person that utilizes the restrooms in a hurried fashion and then bolts out, skipping over the ritual of killing the bacteria that is festering on your hands? Although I am completely against some commercial anti-bacterial soaps, I am still a believer of a healthy and clean body. That being said, wash your hands before you shake mine! And people wonder why some of us are antisocial.

A study conducted at Michigan State University yielded that from a sample size of 3,739 people observed in a college town, only 5.3 percent washed their hands for 15 or more seconds. 10 percent of this did not wash their hands at all, and although this is a low amount, it still translates to over 350 people who don’t wash their hands in that area. If this is a true representation of the population then 10 percent of all the people you encounter are touching you or shaking your hand with filthy, unwashed hands. EWWWW. Also, the 95 percent that are not washing their hands for 20 seconds or more are not paying attention to their washing techniques and are not effectively killing off germs which can spread diseases.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC:

Failing to wash or insufficiently washing hands contributes to almost 50% of all food-borne illness outbreaks

But it isn’t completely the fault of the observed, the study also found that the cleanliness of a place contributes to the likely hood of washing ones hands. This definitely makes sense because if I see a sink or faucet with weird brown stains or boogers all over it then I will usually seek out alternative ways to clean my hands. And no, rubbing your hands together to create heat to theoretically kill the bacteria does not help.

Fun fact, the CDC also says that you should wash your hands:

  • After using the toilet
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
  • After touching an animal or animal waste
  • After touching garbage

But why all this emphasis on washing your hands after these daily activities? Why does it really matter?

Well, give it a good mulling over: You use your hands to feel and grab and touch everything throughout the day. You are strolling down to the nearest park and you run your finger across the rail on the sidewalk. You get on a train and you grab the overhead bar to keep stability during your ride. You grab a taxi and you hold the door that thousands have held before you. The restroom others have been in, the chair others have sat in, the weights others have grabbed. Not to mention the object you just grabbed or touched has a chance of containing fecal matter from another person. A study conducted by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found that out of the 404 commuters they observed, 28% had bacteria on their hands originating from fecal matter. Gross, I know.

The worst part about all this is that we use our hands to touch our face at least a hundred times a day. My are we conceded. The point is not to become a germaphobe, but to stay aware of the way sickness and disease is spread, and how it all starts with your hands. Damnit man, just wash your hands!

The best way to wash your hands is to wet your hands, rub them together for at least 20 seconds, and then rinse and dry your hands. Make sure to give it that 20 precious seconds, 10 or less just doesn’t cut it. Tedious, I know. But hey! If all else fails here is an awesome way to help you wash your hands. Think of all the doctor visits you can avoid and all the fun singalong time you can experience!

Now if only we could find an easy way to keep our bellybuttons clean. Cheers!

 

Sources:

Today Health: Dirty America

MSU: Handwashing Practices

Dirty Hands: Bacteria of Faecal Origin

Youtube: Wash Your Hands Song

CDC Handwashing

Wondergressive: The Secret World of Bacteria

Wondergressive: Stay Away From Antibacterial Soap

Wondergressive: Obamacare

Wondergressive: Belly Button Bacteria