What Does Your Poop Tell You About Your Health?
Keeping track of how your poop looks can be an effective way to monitor your digestive health. In the medical world, there is a lot of information available about how stool should look in someone with a healthy digestive tract, and about what common indicators of illness are.
Appearance is very important, but others things that can be monitored are consistency, shape, smell, frequency, size, color, et cetera. You should pay attention to sudden changes in your poop, as that often indicates that something is off in your gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Your poop can indicate simple things like whether or not you are getting enough fiber in your diet, and can also show signs of: bacterial imbalance in your gut, hemorrhoids, ulcers, parasites, cystic fibrosis, endometriosis, Celiac Disease, Crohn’s Disease, tumors, and cancer (especially colon cancer).
Stool is supposed to be brown, smooth, and easily passed. Both longer pieces and many smaller pieces are considered healthy, but they should not be very thick. If your stool is usually hard, thick, difficult to pass, watery, or extremely soft, then your digestive tract probably isn’t in optimal health.
7 Major Types Of Stool
1. Type 1 is very hard stool that is difficult or painful to pass and is broken up into many small pieces. The most likely cause of this type is a bacterial imbalance called acute disbacteriosis. This occurs when many of the normal bacteria in the gut are missing; these are the bacteria that retain water and give poop its regular consistency and softness. When these bacteria are missing, poop is hard and difficult to pass.
2. Type 2 is lumpy and hard as well, but is one long piece. It is difficult to pass and can cause straining, which may lead to tearing and other issues. This occurs because the stool spends too long in the digestive tract, and is backed up. Because it is so large and hard, ripping of the small intestine wall is possible.
3. Type 3 is also one long piece, but it has cracks in it as opposed to lumps. This type, in addition to the last two, is due to constipation and potentially bacterial imbalance. This isn’t quite as dangerous as type 2, but can still lead to tearing of the digestive tract.
4. Type 4 is long, soft, and smooth. It isn’t too thick, and passes easily and without any straining. This type is considered healthy.
5. Type 5 is also soft and easy to pass, but is multiple small pieces rather than one long piece. This type is also considered healthy. Types 4 and 5 are the only ones that are considered healthy and ideal.
6. Type 6 is multiple pieces, but is mushy and/or watery. This type is not dangerous and is almost healthy, but not quite. This can occur due to stress, dehydration, or just a fast acting colon that produces stool more often than normal.
7. Type 7 is diarrhea, where there are no solid pieces, just watery stool. Oddly enough, this kind of stool can go along with constipation, because extra water accumulates underneath the backed up stool and must be passed on its own.