Occasionally, you’ll be hanging out with a group of your friends when one of you suddenly gets up and announces, “Be right back. I have to pee.” Totally normal, right? Yet, you’ve probably never heard anyone stand up in a room full of people and admit, “Hold up. I have to poop.”
Why is this? Why does pee get a free pass whereas poop is essentially the “Bodily Function That Must not be Named?” That’s right – we just referred to poop as the Voldemort of the human body. What are you gonna do about it?
Since poop is a great indicator of our overall health, not discussing it may actually be keeping us away from some solid knowledge. I mean, yes it may be awkward to talk about poop because of the sounds and smells associated with it, but everyone poops! It’s a totally normal function that’s a huge part of our everyday lives, so why not converse about it in the name of self-discovery and health?
To catch up on all the poop-related info we may have missed out on because of our prior poop shame, we’ve decided to do some research. Here are the super interesting, feces facts we discovered…
1. Poop is like your digestive system’s mood ring.
If you’re doing your business and you notice that your poop isn’t looking as brown as usual, your body may be trying to tell you something. According to Dr. Gina Sam, bright green poop could suggest that your food was digested too fast (which is not anything to worry about). Yellow means that your system may be struggling when it comes to digesting fats. You might also have a malabsorption disorder like Celiac Disease. As for black poop, it could be the result of iron supplements or other medications. Then again, it could also imply that you’re bleeding internally. Definitely see a doctor if you’re worried.
Dr. Michael F. Picco states that there’s also red and white poop. The latter could symbolize that you have a bile duct obstruction, while the former usually denotes the presence of blood (or something red you ate for lunch, so don’t worry if you were snacking on some beets or cherries). If your stool is either these colors, consult a doctor ASAP.
2. Define “normal poop.”
Gastroenterologist Dr. Patricia Raymond jokes that the idea of perfect poop is “something for those anal retentives among us.” In fact, the opposite is true: it’s perfectly normal for people to experience a range of different poops, as long as they’re soft and easy to pass.
There’s actually something called the Bristol Stool Form Scale (above), which classifies poop into seven groups. Type 1-2 symbolize constipation, 3-4 are ideal, and 5-7 point to diarrhea. Raymond adds that consistently skinny stool may be a bad sign, since it characterizes colon cancer and hemorrhoids.
3. How often should we be pooping?
Every one to two days, most people poop once or twice, says Dr. Sam. If you’re going over two times a day, or if you go three days without needing to poop, it could be a sign that something’s wrong. However, Dr. Sophie Balzora emphasizes that everyone has their own version of “normal,” so don’t freak out if you’ve pooped twice every day for as long as you can remember.
4. Poop should not float like a boat.
You’ve probably heard that poop shouldn’t float and it turns out that this statement is entirely correct. Dr. Raymond says that, if your feces floats every time you go number 2, it could mean that you’re body isn’t properly absorbing oil and fat. In this case, you should make an appointment with a gastroenterologist.
Be that as it may, occasional floating feces is perfectly fine. “If you eat something that causes a lot of gas, it’ll float,” states Dr. Kyle Staller.
5. Poop is supposed to stink!
Depending on your diet, your poop may change smell from day-to-day. Dr. Raymond reveals, “Herbivore leavings smell much better than a carnivore’s.” With that being said, an unbearable smell is probably not a great sign and you should seek medical attention (because your system may not be digesting food correctly).
6. Certain foods can affect our poop schedules.
Though you may not even realize it, you probably poop around a certain time every day because the human body runs like clockwork. Even so, you shouldn’t freak out if your stool schedule is off because several ingredients and foods can alter our bathroom time.
Collectively, both Dr. Sam and Dr. Balzora, point to foods like cheese, which has bacteria in it that can slow down the digestive system. Tough meats like steak can be difficult to digest and clog your tract. Spicy foods, alcohol, and coffee can stimulate your intestine and make you poop more frequently. Overall, staying hydrated can help keep your schedule going smoothly.
7. Our moods can also affect when we poop.
Dr. Sam mentions that our moods can impact our pooping. Since the gastrointestinal tract is lined with the same serotonin receptors as our brains, stress can affect both parts of our body and make it difficult for us to use the bathroom.
Then again, you may notice that you have to frequently use the bathroom when you’re stressed. Columbia University’s health specialists explain that, when our body is reacting to stress, digestion comes to a halt and our bowels empty. Our body can even interpret excitement or nervousness as stress, causing our digestion system to prepare for battle.
8. You can hold it in, but don’t make a habit of it.
We’ve all had moments when we’ve had to poop, but it’s neither the time nor the place. “It’s good to have the ability to hold it in until there’s a socially acceptable place and time,” says Dr. Raymond – but you definitely shouldn’t make it a part of your daily routine.
Dr. Balzora comments, “When you get in the habit of holding things in, your rectum gets confused and doesn’t know how to react when you have poop ready to come out. That can lead to constipation or problems later on.”
9. You do not have to cleanse your colon.
Despite what various media sources may tell you, your colon does not need to be cleared. “Going to the bathroom is the way your body cleanses itself,” mentions Dr. Balzora. “Don’t buy into cleanses or detox trends because your colon is a wonderful instrument that already does that.” Also, attempting to clean out your colon could destroy the healthy bacteria that keeps your digestive tract in tip-top shape, according to Dr. Staller.
10. It’s okay if it takes you a long time to poop – but don’t dawdle.
Let’s be real – people love to multitask, especially in the bathroom. Example: many use their phones or read while on the toilet, which may cause some to believe that it’s taking them forever to poop.
As we mentioned before, we all have our own special version of normal, so it’s okay if it actually takes you awhile to poop. Nonetheless, Dr. Staller states that you definitely shouldn’t wear yourself out trying to poop because that could put pressure on your anus. If you are experiencing exhausting poop sessions on a consistent basis, talk to your doctor about it.
11. The makeup of poop.
With all the above knowledge now under our belt, we have one leftover question: what exactly is in poop? Yes, there’s food and stuff, but is there anything else?
Dr. Sam describes poop by saying that it’s made of fiber, water, undigested fats, salt, phosphates, undigested food, cholesterol, and both dead and live bacteria. In fact, dead bacteria makes up about 30% of our bowel movements. Plus, there are also other foods that may show up in our poop because our body didn’t have enough time (or wasn’t able to) digest them: corn, oats, and other foods that are high in fiber.
Bottom line? Pooping is nothing to be ashamed of. All together now! Once more! Pooping is nothing to be ashamed of.