Thinking about poop is far from glamorous. What used to seem funny to joke about is now an avoidable topic of conversation. And unless it comes up in the form of an emoji in a text message, you probably don’t look at it. However, by paying attention to your bowel movements and the shape and size of your stool, you can determine important facts about your overall health.
What To Look For
We all agree that everyone is different, and our bowel movements are no exception. Doctors assert that it’s more important to know yourself and discover what is normal for you, than to establish what is normal for the masses. Pay attention to how often you have a bowel movement, the ease with which you pass your stool, and the general color and size. If something changes, you’ll be the first to know what’s going on inside your body.
Once you consume food, your body begins the digestive process to break down and absorb all of the vitamins and nutrients possible. Anything that cannot be absorbed is eliminated from the body in what we call a bowel movement. The stool is the waste that is discarded. There are several aspects of your stool to notice as they indicate whether or not you are healthy.
- Time it Takes to Pass Poop - this tells you whether or not you are constipated
- Size and Shape of Poop - this tells you whether or not you’re getting enough water and fiber
- Color of Poop - this tells you what types of foods you are eating and indicates if there is internal bleeding
Constipation and diarrhea are uncomfortable and untimely, but they may be indicators of a deeper health imbalance. If you experience diarrhea for longer than a week, your body may be alerting you of a food allergy, an inflamed intestine (ulcerative colitis), Crohn’s disease or celiac disease. Constipation is a sign that you may not be consuming enough water or fiber. A day or two of abnormal bowel movements is inevitable. Consider how your diet may have affected your current bowel movement and wait to see if you return to what’s normal for you. If the abnormality continues, or is accompanied with abdominal pain, it may be time to call your GI doctor.
Typically, the color of your stool is any shade of brown. Bile is a green-yellow fluid that is eliminated along with foods that are not absorbed; the combination of colors and substances causes a brown shade. While a green stool is something to note but not be alarmed about, a red or black stool can indicate internal bleeding. A discolored stool does not automatically signal that something is wrong, but it is important to watch over a period of time. If the discoloration continues, it’s time to make an appointment.
What Can Be Done
If your bowel movements clue you in on your overall health and you run into something that’s not quite right, you have to do something. Changing your diet is the best way to do this. Consuming foods that are high in fiber, avoiding heavily processed foods and foods that are high in sugar content, drinking lots of water, and exercising regularly are all natural ways to increase your health and avoid GI problems. If you notice inconsistencies in your bowel movements or want insight on how to maintain a healthy GI tract, our doctors at Carolina Digestive Health Associates are here to help you! Don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment today.