min read
June 20, 2024

What Your Stool Says About Health + Tips for Better Bowels

How can you tell if your gut is doing its job effectively? The answer might surprise you - it's all in your poop! That's right, your stool is a window into your digestive health. And let's face it, while it might not be the most glamorous topic, it's a crucial one.

Think about it - your gastrointestinal tract runs from your mouth to your anus, and its responsibilities include processing food, absorbing nutrients, and getting rid of waste. And as it turns out, the health of your gut is closely tied to the quality of your bowel movements. If you're having one to two well-formed, easy-to-pass bowel movements per day, chances are your gut is functioning normally.

But what if your stool looks different than usual? What if you're experiencing diarrhea or constipation? These changes could be a sign of something more serious, or simply a result of what and how you've been eating.

What the Color of Your Poop Says About Your Health

When it comes to poop, we usually don't give it much thought beyond flushing it away. But did you know that the color of your stool can tell you a lot about your health? The hue of your poop can be an important indicator of what's going on inside your body.

The normal color of poop is brown - and that's all thanks to a substance called bilirubin. Bilirubin is created when red blood cells break down, and it gives your poop its typical brown hue.

But what if your poop isn't brown? Well, sometimes, your diet can be reflected in the color of your feces. For example, eating lots of green, leafy vegetables can make your poop green, and food coloring can also alter the color of your stool. However, in other cases, there may be different reasons for the color change such as:

  • Light-colored: If your poop is light-colored - yellow, clay-colored, or very light brown - it may be an indication of an infection, inflammation, or blockage in the bile ducts caused by gallstones or narrowing of the ducts themselves. 
  • Black: Black poop can happen if you consume foods like black licorice and blueberries, or if you take iron supplements. But it may also be a sign of gastrointestinal tumors, so it's important to get it checked out.
  • Red: If your stool appears red, it could be a cause for concern. Red poop may indicate the presence of blood, which can be caused by constipation, abnormal blood vessels, or bleeding in the rectum or anus. It's essential to see a doctor if you notice this type of change in your poop.

Tips for Better Bowel Movement

Many people have difficulty pooping, and it's not just a physical issue. Your mental health can also play a role. But don't fret, there are many things you can do to help:

  1. Eat a balanced, high-fiber diet: Foods high in fiber, such as whole grain cereals, beans, apples, and carrots, can help prevent and treat constipation.

  1. Identify any hidden food sensitivities: While some foods, such as gluten, grains, and dairy, may irritate the majority of consumers, many other foods must be approached on an individual basis. Identifying any underlying food sensitivities can be done through an elimination diet, leading to healthier bowel movements.

  1. Drink more water: Two important dietary elements that make up poop are water and fiber. Water aids in the body's detoxification process and can ease the passage of bowel movements.

  1. Exercise more regularly: Constipation is made easier by the way your intestines naturally move stool through the large intestine. Exercise can aid in bowel movement if your body isn't moving stool quickly enough. Walking, running, or swimming are all examples of physical activities that can encourage motion.

  1. Get a comprehensive stool test: If you're still struggling, consider a comprehensive stool test. This examination can look for bacteria, viruses, or other germs that may be causing you illness in your feces. It's always better to be safe than sorry and seek medical help if you're experiencing persistent symptoms. 

Your bowel movements are an essential indicator of your overall health. Pay attention to the color, shape, and frequency of your stool and let it influence your decisions about a healthy lifestyle. By following these suggestions and taking care of both your physical and mental health, you'll be on your way to a more comfortable and regular bowel movement.