What Your Poop Should Look Like (Why Euphemize?)

As you probably guessed from the title of this blog post, I’m not a big believer in euphemisms. In spite of the fact that everyone talks about their poop with someone (you know you do … we’ve seen your Facebook posts), few people know what “normal” is or what the end result of a healthy digestive system should look like. Digestive disorders are one of the top issues I see in my practice. So … let’s explore this topic further!

A growing number of health experts believe a healthy digestive system is the foundation of good health. This makes sense, since the nutrient building blocks needed to maintain health and create healing are absorbed through the digestive system. Few people realize a significant portion of the immune system resides in the digestive tract or that the digestive system is responsible for creating many hormones that affect mental health. Obviously, dysfunction of the digestive tract can affect body, mind and spirit, so it makes sense to take care of it.

The old saying, “You are what you eat” is not true. The truth is, you are what you absorb. Good absorption should create the following:

1) Transit time of 12-18 hours: The time lapse between eating a meal and eliminating the wastes from the meal should be 12-18 hours. This time frame allows food to pass through the digestive tract slowly enough for the nutrients to be fully absorbed, yet fast enough for the toxins and waste products to be efficiently eliminated. Faster transit time means nutrients may not be fully absorbed; slower transit time means that food is probably rotting in your large intestine and you are therefore absorbing toxins into your bloodstream that should have been eliminated. If you often find you have to rush to the restroom immediately following a meal, this may be an indicator of poor protein absorption or of a food sensitivity. How can you judge your transit time? Some people eat beats, as it’s hard to miss the telltale red they create in feces.

2) Two to three bowel movements per day: Yes. Seriously. Healthy digestion moves food through the digestive system efficiently and creates two to three bowel movements per day. Fewer movements mean you are potentially absorbing toxins as putrefying food sits in your colon longer than it should; more than two to three movements per day probably means you are not fully absorbing the nutrients in the foods you eat.

3) Stools that float: If your stools sink to the bottom of the toilet instead of happily floating on the surface, it indicates your diet lacks sufficient fiber or that your stools contain large amounts of undigested food. Fiber is an essential element of good digestion. Fiber helps waste move through the colon quickly and efficiently and absorbs toxins so they are not absorbed by the body. A lack of fiber can create sluggish digestion and will definitely create stools that sink.This topic is one that can create a lot of controversy because poorly digested fats and excess mucus can also make stools float. When stools contain high levels of undigested or poorly digested fat and/or mucus, the fat and mucus is usually easily visible on and in the stools. Stools that contain large amounts of fat or mucus are an indicator of poor digestion. I recommend seeing a professional if you recognize those traits in your stools. However, the fact that one form of maldigestion may cause floating stools does not mean it is always bad to have floating stools. Healthy stools should float. Period.

4) Stools that are solid (not hard) and well-formed: Stools should be solid, not watery, and should be easy to push out. Hard, round “pebbles” may indicate dehydration, a lack of fiber or other digestive issues. Drinking half your body weight (in pounds) in ounces of water on a daily basis is another factor that is essential for good digestion. Stools that are overly soft and which are loose enough that they cannot hold a solid form are also a cause for concern. People with these types of stools often suffer from dehydration because water that should have been absorbed in the colon is being expelled. Issues on either side of the fence need attention and further research is needed to identify the cause of the problem.

5) Nothing recognizable: If foods exit your body in a form that clearly indicates what they were when they entered your body, your system is not fully digesting and absorbing nutrients. Grandma’s old rule of chewing every bite 20 times can help with this. Using digestive enzymes and/or probiotics can also greatly assist digestion and absorption.

That’s it! You now know what your poop should look like. If you want more information on improving digestion, read Top Six Ways to Maximize Digestion.

The following two tabs change content below.
Dr. Pamela Reilly is a Naturopathic Physician dedicated to helping people improve their health and eliminate symptoms using natural, integrative methods. She has over 25 years of experience and has helped men, women and children improve their health using a holistic, client-centered focus. She sees clients in Indianapolis, does house calls, and also conducts consultations via Skype or telephone. Please feel free to contact her or visit her Consultations page for more information. Dr. Pamela speaks nationwide on a wide variety of health topics and welcomes speaking invitations.

Latest posts by Dr. Pamela Reilly (see all)

6 Responses to What Your Poop Should Look Like (Why Euphemize?)

  1. […] For more details on how to improve digestion, read Top Six Ways to Maximize DigestionĀ or What Your Poop Should Look Like. […]

  2. Pamela, I read that floating stools mean something is wrong with the pancreas. How can we tell the difference between healthy floaters and unhealthy ones? Christiane

    • GWWR says:

      Hi, Christiane. I have never heard that. Floating stools are much healthier than those that sink like a rock. The reference may have been to stools which float due to containing undigested fat. The pancreas is responsible for producing lipase, a digestive enzyme necessary for absorbing fat. However, stools that float because they contain undigested fat would have a very unusual appearance and would not be uniform in color and shape as a healthy stool would. Hope this helps.

  3. Lori says:

    Excellent article & very informative – thanks! Out of these 5 issues, if one recognizes a problem, can it be corrected? With enzymes, probiotics, etc? I can't wait to read your follow up post!

  4. Pamela Reilly, Naturopath, CNHP, CNC, CPH says:

    You're so welcome! Sorry for the delay in my thanks. I never received notification of your comment. I hope to migrate to a WordPress site very soon … hoping that migration will help! Have a glorious day!

  5. Joyful Sparrow says:

    Very informative. Thank you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *