Facts About Poop to Assess Whether You Have Good Intestinal Transit

Heather Campbell
 min read

This article discusses facts about poop to help you determine whether you have good bowel movements.

Woman Showcasing Poop Emoji Facts About Poop To Assess If You Have Good Intestinal TransitTalking about feces can be a taboo subject. Still, it is necessary to talk about it to know if we have good intestinal transit.

Facts about poop to assess whether you have good intestinal transit: Introduction

We must take an interest in our stools to know our state of health or physical and psychological vitality.

In fact, we should analyze their quality, composition, consistency, and odor and the frequency with which we evacuate them.

The frequency of evacuation is a fancy way of saying how frequently you do a number two.

Armed with these essential facts about poop, you will know to assess your own bowel transit (do you frequently need to poop and are you struggling to do so?).

What is the composition of our stool?

75% of our excrement is composed of water from our food and cellular metabolisms.

This water allows the fecal matter not to be dehydrated and to be evacuated more easily. Water is helped by the presence of bile, which itself comes from the liver and gallbladder.

On the other hand, if the water content is insufficient, the poop will be dry. Conversely, if it is too hydrated, it will be diarrhea.

In our feces, we also find “old” intestinal bacteria that must be evacuated and replaced by new ones that are younger and more active. Non-digestible dietary fiber is also present.

Our stools also contain residues and harmful substances that will be transformed and evacuated through the rectal and/or urinary tract.

These can be:

  • endogenous: originating internally; and/or
  • exogenous: originating externally, such as drugs, various dyes, pesticides, environmental products, excess fats, or carbohydrates.

What does “normal” poop look like?

Health professionals say a typical stool should be about 1.5 inches thick and 6 to 8 inches long.

Its color will vary according to the food. For example, brown in the case of a meat diet but lighter in the case of a vegetarian diet.

The bowel movement should be easy and effortless, and could occur more than once daily. For example, once in the morning and once after lunch or dinner.

What is the ideal color for our stool? Facts about poop

The color of the stool will depend on what we have ingested before! Indeed, they can vary from light yellow to black.

In addition, the physiological phenomenon of hemolysis must be considered.

The life span of our red blood cells is about 4 months, after which they no longer receive the energy necessary for their “survival” and must therefore be destroyed and renewed.

This natural process is called hemolysis and is the rupture of red blood cells and the release of their contents into the surrounding fluid (such as the blood plasma).

Then, the resulting waste is phagocytosed (encapsulated for transportation) by our defense system:

  • On the one hand, some elements are recycled to resynthesize new red blood cells. Indeed, our bone marrow continuously produces red blood cells, thanks to erythropoietin (EPO) of renal origin (from the kidneys). These are essential elements to capture oxygen, reject carbon dioxide of cellular origin, and fix iron.
  • On the other hand, other wastes will go to the liver to undergo transformations and pass to the intestinal level. In the intestines, they influence the physiological color of our feces. Others color our urine via the blood and the kidneys.

The color of our stools can thus inform us about this phenomenon of hemolysis and specific emerging or established pathologies.

Black stools

Black stools can tell us about the presence of clotted blood from upstream organs such as the stomach or duodenum (the first part of the small intestine). This can be a sign of an ulcer or tumor, for example.

On the other hand, the presence of red blood in the stool can be a sign of:

In all cases, it is recommended to consult a doctor who can advise a coproculture (stool analysis). The stool sample can then be analyzed for bacteria (bacteriology), parasites (parasitology), fungi (mycology), and the presence of blood.

Depending on the results of this analysis, the doctor may prescribe a colonoscopy to visualize the presence of polyps or diverticula (which are like pouches in the intestinal mucosa).

Other factors that can cause a dark color of the stool:

  • The consumption of iron will cause the stool to turn black, but without a foul odor.
  • Blood in the stool can come from the stomach, but also from the small intestine or the colon.
  • Physiological hemolysis can become pathological, especially during bruising, where the color of the blood can turn green and then yellow. In this case, the red blood cells are broken and undergo hemolysis.

Be aware that blood is not always visible to the naked eye. Therefore, it is advisable to consult your doctor when your stools look different or have a strange color.

Only the doctor can prescribe specific tests to be performed in a laboratory specialized in coprocultures (stool analyses).

Good to know: If only your toilet paper is stained with blood, it is probably from internal and/or external hemorrhoids that bleed after evacuation.

But here again, one must be careful because it can also be a question of lesions of the anal mucosa.

To be on the safe side, in all cases, consult your doctor if you are unsure.

Light grey stools

Stools with a light gray or green color suggest liver and gallbladder dysfunction.

Good to know: Bile, produced by the liver, is stored in the gallbladder and then discharged into the small intestine to emulsify fats and lubricate the fecal bolus.

But excrements of this color can also be explained by the consumption of chlorophyll (a natural green pigment) present in certain foods such as spinach and algae (for example, spirulina, chlorella, etc.).

Light yellow stools

Light yellow stools can involve several explanations:

  • Regular and significant consumption of foods containing yellow or orange pigments can color our feces (these are called carotenes in, for example, carrots, peppers, or apricots). But usually, this phenomenon does not last.
  • It can also be due to an insufficiency or poor quality of intestinal bacteria.
  • Or it could be due to dysmicrobism when taking antibiotics. This is an inversion between the dominant saprophytic (beneficial) bacteria and the sub-dominant ones.
  • It may be a liver problem with excessive bile production or poor absorption of fats by dysfunction of the pancreatic juices.
  • It can also indicate an infection with giardia, which is a single-celled parasite found in water and streams contaminated by human, muskrat, dog, or beaver feces.

How much fecal matter do we produce per trip to the bathroom?

The quantity will, of course, depend on the volume of food ingested and the insoluble fibers in the meal(s).

As a result, the volume of daily feces can double with vegetable and fruit consumption from an average of 5-7 oz. to 17-21 oz.

What are the different consistencies of our feces?

According to some studies, the consistency of our excrement can be divided into 7 categories:

  1. Hard stools and small pieces in the form of balls
  2. Hard but molded stools that are sausage-shaped and lumpy
  3. Hard, sausage-shaped stools with cracks on the surface
  4. Soft stools with sharp edges
  5. Soft, fragmented stools with jagged edges
  6. Soft stools, molded in a serpentine form like toothpaste and showing a balance between water and the different constituent substances
  7. Liquid stools

It should be noted that all of these categories each highlight a particular intestinal problem due to:

What is the reason for the smell of our feces?

The odor of feces, like intestinal gas, depends on the diet, putrefaction (decomposition of organic matter), or fermentation phenomena.

Consequently, a meaty diet will lead to putrefaction in the descending colon with more or less powerful odors.

On the other hand, a predominantly vegetable diet will already decompose in the ascending colon and result in abundant and not very odorous material.

How often should I poop?

In this respect, the opinions differ:

  • Officially, going to the bathroom three times a week is enough and does not constitute constipation.
  • However, some believe we should have as many bowel movements as meals.
  • Others say regular pooping once daily with a certain quantity and quality is sufficient.

What is the ideal position for pooping: Squatting or sitting?

Today, our toilets are too “convenient” and comfortable.

It is not uncommon for people to stay there for many minutes to read, do crossword puzzles or scroll their smartphone because they feel good there, even without having to poop, or because they wait for when nobody can hear them because they are afraid to poop in the presence of others!

Our toilets do not optimally facilitate defecation because the physiological position that allows a normal evacuation of our stools would be that of squatting and bending slightly forward.

Indeed, this crouched position makes sense because:

  • By having a vertical position, it encourages the exit of the fecal bolus by gravity.
  • Our diaphragm (the muscle separating the chest from the abdomen) rises and falls as we breathe. Therefore, when belly breathing, our diaphragm descends and compresses our intestinal organs, promoting defecation.
  • By squatting, a compression of our intestinal organs takes place and allows the expulsion of our excrement.

Bonus fact about poop: Should our stool float or sink in the toilet bowl?

If your feces sink quickly into the water, it may be a sign that they still contain undigested nutrients.

On the other hand, if they float for a while, they contain gas bubbles from the good work performed by the intestinal bacteria. Therefore, it is a sign of good intestinal vitality.

Facts about poop to assess whether you have good intestinal transit: Conclusion

Having “normal” bowel movements ensures a healthy transit and a healthy body. Ideally, feces should be eliminated daily, be odorless, well-molded, light brown in color, and not soil the anus in the process.

If your stool has you worried because of a different color, shape, or consistency than usual, don’t hesitate to consult a healthcare professional who can guide you to further examine your feces.

About Heather Campbell

As a nutritionist, my field of specialization is science-based nutritional advice but more importantly, it is my goal to share capturing and inspiring stories, examples and solutions which can help plus-size individuals overcome their specific difficulties. Read More