Here’s one of the most commonly asked questions I receive all the time…
“How do I know if my gut is healthy? If my insides are doing okay?”
Well, the answer is easy – but it’s not always pretty.
A lot of people are embarrassed to talk about their poop, and I get it. But at the end of the day, it’s a basic bodily function – and an important one at that for understanding how your health is doing!
One of my friends went to camp and couldn’t go for the entire week. It became a running joke and later a group celebration when she finally was able to return home and relieve herself.
But what was quite the joke (she was laughing too, don’t you worry – she had such a beautiful sense of humor and put pride to the side) ended up being more of a revealing tale of what was happening in her body – which wasn’t so comical after all.
So *cue the music from enchanted*
“HOW DOES SHE KNOW…??”
Hang with me, and I’ll tell you everything from components, color, and consistency (which is everything to know)!
What is Poop Anyways?
While the famous brown pile of an emoji has now made its way from T-shirt décor to pillows won at the state fair – our poop is by far the greatest indicator of our health.
So what is poop after all??
Actually, surprisingly enough – our poop is 75% water. A lot of people assume that its food they have consumed, but that’s not the case.
We lose around 3.5 ounces of fluid each day, and our digestive system actually works to reabsorb about 10 US quarts during the 24 hours. So by having the feces as mostly water, this ensures as safe exit out of the body.
➔ Then 1/3 of the solid components of poop are bacteria. Could be good. Could be bad – but ultimately, is bacteria that is done being used in the digestive tract and finds its home elsewhere.
➔ Another 1/3 is made up of fiber that is found primarily in fruits and vegetables, and is indigestible. So the more you eat of these foods, the more your body will excrete. This could increase your poop from 3.5 ounces to 7 or even 17 or 18 ounces per day.
➔ And that last 1/3 is a modge-posh of any substance your body is looking to evict (medicines, cholesterol, food coloring ,etc.).
What Color Should My Poop Be?
If you’ve ever looked at your waste, you’ve likely noticed that it doesn’t always take on that typical brown pigment that you would expect – sometimes it differs in color or shades.
This is because of our blood since our body breaks down and reproduces a whopping total of 2.4 million blood cells each and every day. And during this process, the red pigment turns to green and then yellow (we can see this with our urine too).
And while a small portion of this pigment gets excreted when we pee, the majority of it passes through the liver and via the gut. By using the specific pigments (and shape + consistency) of our poop, we can directly tell our general health.
So let’s get specific!
➔ Light Brown to Yellow
If you’re familiar with gut health, you already know that your gut is comprised of trillions of strains of bacteria (which we strive to be GOOD bacteria based off of healthy foods, probiotics, etc.).
When our body excretes our waste, remember that part of the poop itself is bacteria – but if your waste begins to have more of a yellowish tint, this is showing that our bacteria that lines our gut is not doing its job.
And that tells us that it’s time to devote our love to restoring our gut health (article linked for how to do so!).
But our gut can also get out of whack by things such as antibiotics and diarrhea – so if any of those have been recent to you, it’s likely due to those direct causes.
The second reason could be that this is likely the result of Gilbert’s syndrome (a fairly harmless disorder) which causes the enzymes involved in breaking down of blood to work at a low 30 percent of regular efficiency.
Since the blood changes pigments as it gets broken down, this is then shown in the stool as it’s expelled from the digestive system.
And while enzyme deficiency seems serious, the only proven side effect is a low tolerance for acetaminophen, but like always – see your doctor before drawing to a direct conclusion.
➔ Light Brown to Gray
Any gray tint should result in consulting your doctor since there’s a kink along the way that is preventing the blood pigment to making it to your waste.
This is likely due to a connection between the liver and gut being capped by the gall bladder or some sort of pressure.
Think of it like a kink in a hose – if you bend the hose, the water cannot get through. We don’t want this happening in our digestive tract!
➔ Black or Red
Fresh blood is red, so if the pigment red is found throughout your poop then these are actual real red blood cells.
If you are prone to hemorrhoids, a little red in the waste is nothing too much to worry about.
However, if you find a common reoccurance of blood cells in your waste, be sure to visit a doctor to make sure everything is processing as normal.
What Consistency Should Your Poop Be?
In 1997, the Bristol Stool Chart came out and saved the day by providing its amazing insight on what our waste should look like – and what the right. consistency should be.
The consistency usually reveals how long indigested particles take to make their way through the digestive tract.
Too fast – problematic. Too slow – problematic. We’re aiming for the Goldilocks scenario – just right.
Type 1 shows severe constipation – meaning it takes around 100 hours to pass through the gut. This is considered severe constipation.
Type 7 is when the food passes through in just ten hours and the proper nutrients are not being absorbed into the small intestine. This leads to a very watery consistency.
So you want to aim for Types 3-4 since the timing and ratio of fluid to solid content is right where it needs to be.
How Frequent Should I "Go"??
There isn’t a super cookie cutter answer to this one.
Instead, it’s based on regularity, and what makes your body feel GOOD.
If you’re tired, bloated, and feeling weighed down – you are likely experiencing some issues with regulating your gut. (Which no fear if that’s the case – that’s what this entire blog is here to help you with!)
I always tell people that our communicates with us and it’s up to us to listen. If you aren’t feeling energized and your best self, you’re likely experiencing some sort of issue (and most of them always get tracked back to the gut).
But the general answer is 3 times a day to 3 times a week. If you fall into that category, and have bowel movements around the same time (ie – if you know when you wake up it’s time for the deed) – you should be good.
Just continue to ask yourself how you feel and go from there.
Additional Poor Gut Health Signs (You Don't Want To Ignore)
When I mentioned before that our body talks to us – these are the many flashing warning signs that it will send us.
So while checking out your poop is important, there are many other red flags to look for as well. And many of them, you already know!
☐ Unintentional Weight Changes
☐ Acne and Skin Conditions
☐ Bloating and Inflammation
☐ Low Energy and Exhaustion
☐ Difficulty Concentrating and Mental Fog
☐ Nausea, Upset Stomach, Gas
☐ Decreased Mental Health
☐ Immunity and Sickness
☐ Experience stress in your daily life
☐ Have trouble sleeping
☐ Get sick often
☐ Crave sugar regularly
☐ Have food allergies, intolerances, or sensitivities
☐ Experience moodiness
☐ Often feel anxious and/or depressed
☐ Experience brain fog
☐ Eat a diet high in processed foods
☐ Cannot seem to lose weight (no matter how hard you try)
☐ Struggle with having and/or maintaining high energy levels
☐ Experience oily skin or any form of skin condition
☐ Rely on coffee or caffeinated beverages to keep you energized
☐ Often feel tired and fatigued
☐ Experience muscle pain
☐ Experience joint pain
☐ Have recurring headaches
☐ Suffer from leaky gut
☐ Bloat after eating meals
☐ Feel inflamed (or “puffy”)
☐ Have sinus problems
☐ Struggle with gas (too much or not a healthy amount)
☐ Experience heartburn
☐ Suffer from acid reflux
☐ Have chronic diarrhea, constipation, gas, or bloating
☐ Suffer from eczema
☐ Experience acne
☐ Diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or experience similar symptoms
☐ Often experience canker sores (aka “cold sores”)
☐ Have the appearance of dark circles beneath your eyes
☐ Easily retain water weight
☐ Experience bad breath
☐ Have a sensitive stomach
☐ Just feel plain “BLEH!” knowing you deserve better (hint: YOU DO!)
So now that we’ve identified the warning signs our body may be sending to up, we want to see that light at the end of the tunnel.
What Do I Do to Fix My Gut??
This might seem overwhelming. So pause for a moment and breathe.
I promise it’s not rocket science!
Restoring your gut health and improving your digestive health will leave you with incredible benefits.
I’m talking – take that list above and turn it to positives.
Weight loss, reduced bloating and inflammation, no more skin flair ups, higher immunity, increased mental clarity – the whole deal.
It’s beyond worth it. Take it from me and my story!
Check out this article here for the Ultimate Gut Health Guide and How to Improve Gut Health Instantly!
Let me know how you’re doing in the comments below and what works best for you!!
And if you’re ready to jump into restoring your gut health, check out the 21 Day Gut Health Challenge! It might just be perfect for you!!