Poop. Go ahead, giggle and get it out of your system. Admittedly, just the sound of the word is silly, but poop truly is something that needs to be discussed.
Although talking about poop is a taboo subject in our society, it is actually quite a disservice to our health to avoid the discussion. This is because every bowel movement you have provides powerful insight into the state of your body. The food you eat, your emotions and your current health conditions all play a role in the shape, texture and color of your poop.
While no one likes to admit it, everyone has had a strange poop at some point that left them wondering what was going on. Since knowing what is normal or not is foundational for good health, here is the scoop on what your poop may be saying about your body.
Bristol Stool Chart Basics
According to the Bristol Stool Chart, there are seven different types of stools. Essentially, the stools you form are affected by how long they stay in your colon. Depending upon your diet, medications and lifestyle, your poop may exit quickly and be loose, or it may stick around in your system long enough that it becomes hard such as when you are constipated.
The Bristol Stool Chart breaks this all down into seven neat categories that describe the shape and texture of poop. The first category on the chart is separate, hard lumps of stool that are hard to pass, and it continues to the seventh, which is watery poop with no solid pieces. Although everyone has a different normal, somewhere in the middle is where you want to be with a stool that resembles a sausage-slightly soft and not too hard to pass.
When it comes to poop, however, anything that veers from your normal type should be cause for concern. For example, the following conditions can impact your digestion and cause changes in your stools that could warrant further investigation.
Common Health Conditions that Can Be Revealed from Your Poop
1. Celiac Disease
This is an autoimmune disorder that occurs in genetically predisposed people that involves damage being caused to the small intestine when the body is unable to digest gluten.
With celiac disease, diarrhea and constipation are common. Many people also report pale, foul smelling and fatty stools.
2. Thyroid Conditions
Your thyroid is responsible for regulating the hormone that is responsible for your metabolism. When your thyroid goes haywire, it can cause your body to release too much or too little of this hormone, which can cause changes in your stool.
Hyperthyroidism involves the release of too much of the hormone, and you may experience diarrhea due to fat malabsorption and the rapid movement of food through your intestines. Hypothyroidism tends to slow down the rate of digestion and causes constipation.
3. Gluten Intolerance
Similarly, sometimes, a person will test negative for celiac disease, yet they experience the same symptoms when they are exposed to gluten. In these cases, damage may not occur to the lining of the small intestine, yet severe diarrhea, abdominal pain and constipation can be miserable. A gluten-free diet is often the recommended course of action to return the body to normal.
4. Autoimmune Conditions
An autoimmune digestive disorder occurs when the body mistakenly attacks a portion of the gastrointestinal tract. Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are two common autoimmune conditions of which you may be familiar. With Crohn’s disease, any part of the digestive system from the mouth to the anus may be affected, and diarrhea is one of the most common symptoms.
Many autoimmune disorders can cause mild to severe digestive distress.
5. Food Intolerance
Food intolerances are similar to food allergies, yet intolerance does not cause a life-threatening reaction. Instead, leaky gut occurs and you may experience digestive discomfort when you eat specific foods, especially when you do so often or in large quantities. Gas cramps accompanied by diarrhea are common symptoms you will notice shortly after eating foods that your body cannot tolerate.
6. Artificial and Processed Foods
Processed foods can cause serious distress on the body and in particular to the digestive system. For one, the tend to lack fiber, which will quickly lead to constipation. But more importantly, the artificial ingredients in many of these foods can also trigger your bowels and cause diarrhea.
Food dyes, artificial sweeteners and hydrogenated fats are just a few of the ingredients that could make you sick.. Eating a natural whole foods diet free of unnatural chemicals will clear up these symptoms and create greater health for your body.
Consuming contaminated food or water is the main cause of intestinal parasites, but you can also pick one up from swimming in natural sources of water or touching microscopic eggs that have been left in public spaces.
Parasites are usually the culprit behind traveler’s diarrhea, and they can cause unexplained diarrhea, constipation, abdominal cramping and gas until they are treated and cleared from your body.
There are countless other disorders that will reveal themselves in your poop. Be sure to take note of your digestion to see if your poop is revealing something about your health.