It may sound like a strange practice but it’s actually a really good idea to take a general look the next time you do your business. Poop is a great way to keep track of your digestive health, something you obviously can’t judge from the outside. If there’s anything wrong internally, it will eventually show up in the toilet bowl.
If you notice red poop, the first thing to do is recall if you ate beets recently. If you haven’t, it’s worth getting a checkup. If your poop is red or tinged slightly red, it indicates bleeding within the gastrointestinal tract. Usually, lower down in the colon or rectum. It can be caused by anything from fistulas to cancer so definitely schedule an appointment with your doctor.1
Black or tarry looking poop also usually signals bleeding but it turns black because it’s older blood. This usually signals bleeding in the upper part of the tract. This can be because of tears in the esophagus, an inflamed stomach lining, or abnormal blood vessels.2 As with the bloody stool, make sure to get an appointment with a gastroenterologist ASAP.
3. Consistently Loose
Once in a while diarrhea does rear its ugly head when you have a bad meal but consistently loose stool is often a sign of some underlying condition. The most common conditions include irritable bowel syndrome or food intolerances like celiac disease and lactose intolerance. Some medications like antibiotics can also cause persistent diarrhea.3
When you have pale or clay-colored poop, it’s possible that you have a liver infection that reduces bile production or the flow of bile out of the liver is blocked. This can be caused by various things like gallstones, cysts, tumors, hepatitis, or some medications.4 If you regularly notice your poop is pale, seek medical attention.
Floating poop, as you would expect, means an excess production of gas in the body. while this may not seem too harmful, what it really means is that your digestion is incomplete and you’re not absorbing your nutrients.5 Keep track of whether you experience floating poop regularly for about 2 weeks. If you do, try changing up your diet to improve digestion. If this doesn’t work, it may be a sign of an underlying condition.
Green poop is usually a sign of bad or incomplete digestion. The color is caused by the presence of bile. Bile is stored in the gallbladder and is used to digest fats. But, if stool moves too quickly through your system, the bile doesn’t have a chance to be digested. Certain infections like salmonella can cause greenish poop as well.6
How To Improve Your Digestion
Your digestive health is important and fortunately, it’s usually easy to get your system back on track. If you’re struggling with digestive issues like gassiness and bloating, try these tips.7
- Eat Slowly: This allows you to swallow less air and makes you feel full sooner. You’ll be less likely to overeat.
- Eat Smaller Meals: Smaller meals allow your stomach to digest smaller amounts more thoroughly. You’re less likely to experience any reflux or bloating.
- Limit Eating Near Bedtime: Your digestive system works best in the morning so a good few hours before bed, try not to gorge yourself on food.
- Manage Stress: Stress doesn’t let your digestive system work effectively. Try to make sure that you have good coping strategies like meditation, yoga, or mindfulness practices in place.
- Maintain A Routine: Train your stomach to expect food at a certain time. It will be better prepared to receive it.
- Try Probiotics: Most of our foods are pasteurized which means they don’t contain healthy bacterial cultures that our stomach needs. Talk to your doctor about taking probiotics to maintain gut health. Or eat more natural yogurt and fermented foods like apple cider vinegar or kimchi, all with the cultures still in them.
It might feel weird to do it, but the next time you need to empty your bowels, take a look before you flush. It may tell you something important.
|↑1||Rectal Bleeding:What You Should Know. Nebraska Colon Cancer Screening Program.|
|↑2||Bloody or tarry stool. MedlinePlus|
|↑3||Hygiene-related Diseases. Centers For Disease Control And Prevention.|
|↑4||Stools – pale or clay-colored. MedlinePlus.|
|↑5||Floating stools — What do they say about my health? Columbia University.|
|↑6||Why is my poop green? The Ohio State University.|
|↑7||Keeping Your Gut in Check. National Institutes Of Health.|