However, that doesn’t mean everyone is in the loop about everything there is to know about it. Let’s have a look at some lesser-known Facts About Poop!
Poop isn’t an issue. That’s just for fun. Researchers and doctors studying feces have concluded that it’s the result of the wide variety of gut bacteria that affects your health in many ways. Becoming more attentive to the stool you’re passing through can reveal these vital bacteria’s health and your overall health.
With this in mind, I spoke with Robynne Chutkan, a gastroenterologist at Georgetown Hospital and the author of Gutbliss and the forthcoming The Microbiome Solution: A series of books on the digestive tract and the microbes that reside within it and the stool that is released from it.
Here is some information about poop that you might want to learn about.
Facts About Poop
1.) Poop is mostly bacteria — not food items from the past.
It’s tempting to imagine the feces as just the leftovers of food you consumed — the material that can pass through after digestion.
This material is indeed in your body; however, up to 80% of the poop you ingest (excluding the water) is a bacterial matter living in your intestines and is then expelled when food particles are passed through. The majority of the bacteria present in your poop remain alive. However, certain ones are dead, namely the corpses of species that exploded when they ate the plant matter in your diet that was not digestible. They consumed and passed away shortly afterward.
However, it’s not just bacteria. The poop you spit out also contains some of this indigestible plant matter, such as the vegetable cellulose, with the exact amount based on the food you eat. The poop you spit out also contains tiny portions of your tissues of intestinal lining cells that eliminate indigestion. Of course, there’s water.
2.) Poop is brown because of red blood cells that are dead, and the bile
The chemical “stercobilin causes the color of your feces.” This chemical is found in your feces by two methods: it’s from hemoglobin, a component of broken-down red blood cells, and the fluid bile secreted into your intestines to assist you in digesting fat.
Chutkan says that in a person with an optimally-functioning digestive system, “the ideal stool is a deep chocolatey color — like melted chocolate.”
If there were no stercobilin in the feces, it would be pale gray or whitish shade. This is because those suffering from liver disease or bile ducts blocked (causing the bile to be insufficient or unable to enter the intestines) have feces with a light color and anacholic stool.
Different colors of poop may indicate different conditions. A yellow stool may be an indication of parasite disease, as well as pancreatic cancer. Dark or black poop may be a sign of bleeding within the upper part of your GI tractor from eating beets. The green feces could be a sign of an infection. If your feces is blue, it’s likely due to Blue food coloring.
3.) Women and men have different ways of pooping.
Due to differences in anatomical anatomy that women and men have, GI tracts function differently. The differences are so substantial that Chutkan claims she can perform a colonoscopy and accurately guess the patient’s gender without knowing before the procedure.
Women have larger pelvic organs than men and other abdominal organs (such as the ovaries and the uterus) within the region. This means that their colons are a little lower than men’s and are slightly bigger: on the most occasions, 10 centimeters. In addition, males have more muscular abdominal walls, which aid in pushing meals through the digestive tract faster.
All of this, Chutkan says, “makes the passage of stool much more challenging for women.” Foods take longer to travel through most women, Chutkan says, which makes them more susceptible to gastric bloating. Men, on the other hand, tend to be more consistent.
4.) The optimal poop should be a “continuous log,” — and it sinks to the bottom of the toilet.
While Chutkan warns against the idea that there’s one “ideal poop,” she mentions that there are a few features that indicate the health of your digestive system and the microbiome.
Some doctors recommend that you poo three times a week is sufficient. However, Chutkan states that you should at least have a bowel motion daily, provided that you’re eating your food daily. (In some instances, irregularity could be caused by stress as hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline can cause a slowing of the process of digestion.)
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She claims, “it should be very easy to pass — almost effortless in ideal conditions.” It is expected to be one continuous log or two, having an area similar to a circle that you create using your thumb and index finger.
The last thing to remember is that stool is supposed to sink, not float. A stool that floats is typically a sign of low absorption of nutrients or excess gas.
Of course, poops come in various sizes and shapes — as illustrated on the Bristol stool scale developed by Bristol’s University of Bristol’s Ken Heaton, at right — however, Chutkan states that the ideal size of poops should be three or four on the scale.
However, if your poop doesn’t look like an easy, perfect-to-follow, continuous log, it’s not necessarily a sign you’re sick. However, it could be a sign that you are not getting enough fiber in your diet or that your gut microbiome isn’t in good shape.
5.) Plant fibers are vital for healthy poop.
The key to a good stool, Chutkan says, is simple: “What makes a good stool is large amounts of the indigestible plant matter that feed gut bacteria.” The plant fiber, which is mostly cellulose, can add bulk to the poop, so eating a high-protein diet is crucial for healthy, consistent stool movements.
But having a diverse, healthy gut flora is essential, and for many who are taking antibiotics, it is an issue. Research has proven that just a single dose of ciprofloxacin could disrupt up to one-third of the microbes found in our guts. Research has also indicated that the microbiome will never fully regenerate in certain people. The over-the-counter probiotics are, however, generally only contain a single type of bacteria and are unable to substitute for the variety of microbes eliminated.
Infections in your gut can cause many issues and, in some cases, give harmful bacteria, such as C. difficile, more room to grow. However, it could result in excessively soft and unpleasant pooping. This is why Chutkan suggests thinking through the process before soliciting (or agreeing to) an antibiotic prescription and ensuring the ailment you’re looking to treat.
6.) You may see some corn in your poop due to the cellulose.
The cause of the widely observed corn-kernel-inpoop phenomenon is quite easy: the outer layer of the corn kernel is made up of cellulose, a plant fiber that is not digestible. It is possible to digest the inside of the kernel. However, the hull allows it to pass through us without injury.
It’s also the case for various parts of plants, such as, for instance, the stems of kale, but the bright yellow hue of corn is distinctive, making it easy to recognize.
There’s an advantage to this phenomenon. Suppose you’re interested in determining the time it takes for food to move through your body, whether to assess the condition of your digestion or simply to keep your mind entertained. In that case, it’s possible to use corn kernels as an indicator.
7.) People who live in different regions around the globe have different ways of disposing of their poop.
It’s not an unexpected thing, as different diets produce different kinds of poop. However, Chutkan claims that the feces of many people living in developing countries differ from those following a Western diet, partly due to the latter having more fiber.
A diet high in fiber -like the ones eaten by many people living in developing countries and certain vegans living in the US results in larger and more dense pooping. “They’re bigger movements that come out more easily,” she states. “And there’s very little need to wipe — it’s a much cleaner evacuation.”
Western-style stools, in contrast, are much more supple, and the colon must be pushed harder to get them out.
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8.) The baby’s poop is bizarre
The initial bowel movements are known as meconium, and if you’ve not seen it before, it’s quite strange.
It results from the nutrients taken in by the baby inside the womb. It’s dark green and similar to tar. It’s distinct from normal poop due to what the baby was eating in the uterus, including amniotic fluids, blood and skin cells, and mucus.
Meconium, however, is generally in the absence of odor. Poop from a baby will not remain that way for long.
9.) Poop transplants can be an effective treatment for medical conditions
This may sound crazy; however, studies are increasingly showing that the ideal method to combat C. diff – an invasive bacteria which could grow in your intestines when beneficial bacteria are destroyed — is by removing the poop of a healthy person and placing it inside your internal GI tract. The proper term used for this is Fecal Transplant.
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do it yourself. However, controlled research has revealed that fecal transplants are successful with a rate of 90 percent or more which is higher than any other antibiotic. This is not surprising since a C. diff infection can be due to an antibiotic indiscriminately killing beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract. Re-colonizing these with healthy bacteria can be a way of crowding C. diff.
It is becoming a common procedure, and scientists are currently working on alternative ways to deliver fecal organs, such as frozen poop and pills that could be administered orally.