062 // Is My Poop Normal? How to Find out Plus 7 Simple Tips to Fix It.

Health with Hashimoto’s is your free weekly podcast to discover true, simple, and sustainable tips to improve your energy and health.

Have you always (secretly) wondered if your poop is “normal”? Did you know there are standards? In today’s episode, I share 7 tips for healthier poop.

You will find this episode below in audio format and a written summary because I know not everyone is an audio learner. Some links may be affiliate links that will support me without increasing your price.

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Ceramic frog seated on a toilet playing on a phone. Text reads: Is my poop normal?

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Read the Transcript:

Is My Poop Normal?

Your poop matters. Yes, I’m serious! (And don’t you sometimes wonder about yours?)

You already know that your poop can reflect your physical, and sometimes even emotional, health.

You may get constipation or have diarrhea when you eat something that “doesn’t agree with you,” or when you’re super-nervous about something. One of my friends said she was a “stress pooper.” When she was under a lot of stress, she had diarrhea.

And what about fiber and water? If your balance is off, it’ll probably show in your poop.

What about the all-important gut microbes? If they’re not happy, it’ll probably show in your poop.

Did you know there is an “official” standard for poop? I mean a university-created chart! One that is used to help diagnose conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?

Meet the Bristol Stool Scale

The Bristol Stool Scale was created at the prestigious University of Bristol in the UK back in 1997.

You can see the chart here.

The scale breaks down type of poop into seven different categories ranging from type 1 which is very constipated, to type 7 which is diarrhea:

1 – Separate hard lumps (very constipated).

2 – Lumpy and sausage-like (slightly constipated).

3 – Sausage shaped with cracks in the surface (normal)

4 – Smooth, soft sausage (normal).

5 – Soft blobs with clear-cut edges (lacking fiber).

6 – Mushy consistency with ragged edges (inflammation).

7 – Liquid consistency with no solid pieces (inflammation).

Other “poop” factors to consider

You probably guessed that Bristol Stool Scale is not the only thing to consider for poop health.

Think about how often you go. At least once per day, up to 3 times per day is pretty good. Less than one, or more than three can mean there is something going on.

What about how hard you have to try to go? You want it to be as effortless as possible.

Does it hurt to poop? Having a bowel movement should not be painful.

Does your poop sink or float? Ideally, a #3 or #4 on the Bristol Stool Scale will mostly sink. If it totally floats, this could indicate your body is having a hard time digesting fats.

And the color? It should be brown from the bile that you need to break down the fats you ingest.

If it’s green after a day of eating massive amounts of veggies, or it is red after that large glass of beet juice, you’re just fine. (If it’s green the day after you ate bright blue candy/cake, that is also to be expected because our body has no way to deal with that dye.)

I’ve seen parents rush their baby into the Emergency Department for what they were afraid were “worms” in their daughter’s diaper. Nope. Again, this was diet related. She had eaten a banana the day before and the strings didn’t digest. {Side note: those strings are called phloem bundles and are edible.}

But there are things to watch out for. If you see an abnormal color, like red or even black, that you can’t explain based on what you ate or drank in the last day or two, you probably want to get that checked out. If your poop looks more like black tar than poop, please get to the ER right away as that can be indicative of something bleeding into your gut.

What do you do when you have “imperfect” poop?

Well, the first thing to consider is how imperfect it is, and how often it is like that? Once in a while, things aren’t going to be perfect, and that’s A-OK. But when you are having more bad days than good, it’s time for some changes.

1 – Fiber

Fiber acts kind of like a toothbrush for your gut. You wouldn’t go long without brushing your teeth or they’d start to feel like they had sweaters. (Gross.) Well, your gut needs fiber to clean it out, too.

In addition to helping keep your colon clean, fiber also works to bulk up your stool. You don’t want watery poop. On the other hand, fiber works to soften your stool. Yes, it does both: keeps it from being too watery but also can help prevent constipation. This is due to the relationship with water. If you are dehydrated, the fiber in your diet can back you up.

You can increase your fiber when you eat a variety of nutrient-dense, minimally processed foods, including a lot of fruits & veggies (and their “fibrous” skins, wherever possible). The fiber in these is not only helpful for pushing food through your gut, but they also feed those millions of amazing helpful gut microbes called probiotics.

2 – Water

Water keeps your digestive system moving. But, a lot of other processes in your body rely on water too. If you are short on water, your body will pull extra from your colon leading to hard stool or poop that is hard to push out.

Are you drinking enough water each day? A rule of thumb is to drink half of your weight (pounds) in ounces of water each day. So a 160-pound woman would drink 80 ounces of water every day.

3 – Probiotics

Probiotics are helpful microbes in your gut. They are a key component of a healthy digestive system.

4 – Stress

One of the first things that starts to malfunction when your mind/body is under stress is your digestive system. Some of the other things that don’t work right under stress include your immune system and reproductive system. Reducing stress in your daily life is crucial for your overall health.

5 – Magnesium

When I worked at a nursing home, we had a bowel protocol. If someone pooped that day, they got a check mark on their chart. Those who didn’t, got “prune jam” (a mixture of prunes, raisins, and dates) with their supper. If they didn’t go the second day, they were given Milk of Magnesia. Most people had a bowel movement after this. (If you’re curious, day 3 was a suppository and day 4 was an enema.)

In the Emergency Department, we don’t see people for constipation on day one or two and will often give them magnesium citrate to go home with.

The fact is, a lot of constipation is due to a lack of magnesium in the diet. Studies estimate that 75 percent of Americans do not meet the recommended dietary allowance of magnesium.

Magnesium helps your muscles relax. Yes, the regular muscles you think of when you hear that word, but also the smooth muscles lining nearly your whole digestive tract. {Sidenote: it is due to this relaxation that I take extra calcium and magnesium when I get a tension headache.}

6 – Eat Mindfully and Chew Your Food

You don’t have any teeth after your mouth. Ideally, before swallowing, your food is the consistency of a smoothie. If you swallow big chunks of food, your gut has to do a lot more work and can lead to constipation.

So eat slowly, and mindfully, chewing thoroughly. These are good habits for anyone and everyone, even when you have perfect poop!

7 – Digestive Enzymes

Tune in next week for a post all about digestive enzymes—what they are, why they’re important, and how to find them in foods.

Poop Conclusions

Your poop can help you figure out the overall health of your digestive system. If you are not pooping every day or it is hard/painful, there are many simple things you can try. Of course, long-term issues might require a more thorough review with a qualified healthcare practitioner. Don’t suffer from poop issues for too long before seeking help.

Which of the 7 listed above will you implement first? Share this episode on social media and tag me.

Images used in this post include those from Pixabay: Alexas_Fotos

Ceramic frog seated on a toilet playing on a phone. Text reads: Is my poop normal?
Ceramic frog seated on a toilet playing on a phone. Text reads: Is my poop normal?