The perfect poo
22nd January, 20140 Comments
Written by: Sarah Walford DipCNM BMedSci (Hons)
Poo! Yes, it’s a normal bodily function and most of us do one most days of the year. But it’s not something we often discuss, and not something most of us think too much about either. However, many nutritionists spend significant time asking clients about their poo. Having eliminated the potentially more serious symptom of blood in the stool, questioning may move on to ‘How often do you go?’, ‘Is it easy to pass?’, ‘Does it float or sink?, ‘Is it light or dark in colour?’, ‘Do you need to wipe several times in order to get clean?’ and ‘Does it leave skidmarks?’ Some clients confess to never taking the time to look in the pan, but taking a quick glance before you flush can give you valuable insight in to how your digestive system is functioning.
A useful tool that removes some of the need for graphic descriptions is The Bristol Stool Chart. Developed by Dr Ken Heaton at the University of Bristol, it gives a pictorial representation to 7 different categories of stool. If you suffer from constipation, you probably have stools similar to types 1&2. Type 4 represents the perfect poo. Types 6 and 7 are very loose and most commonly seen with diarrhoea.
In addition to the right form, poo should sink not float, gently hitting the water with a resounding plop. Although all poo does have an odour, it shouldn’t be too offensive, and should be accompanied by minimal wind. If your poo floats on the surface, and is hard to flush away it could indicate that there is too much fat in the stool, or too much air. Light-coloured poos can also indicate too much fat in the stool. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you are eating too much fat, more that you are not digesting fat correctly. The presence of undigested food (aside from sweetcorn or tomato skins) is also something to watch out for. If you identify it, it could indicate that you aren’t chewing thoroughly enough or that you body is having trouble digesting the food. You shouldn’t need to wipe more than 3 times to get clean, and the poo should flush away without leaving skidmarks (although I think this is influenced by the shape of the pan and pipe too).
As to the question of how often you should have a bowel movement, there is no definitive right or wrong. Some would argue that if you are eating 3 main meals a day, then you should have 3 healthy bowel movements a day. If you are going at least once a day, but not more than three times a day then you are doing well.
Take the time to look at your poos and keep track of how often you go. If things aren’t right, chances are that some simple dietary changes could help significantly and have you passing the perfect type fours.
Please note, any change or abnormality concerning bowel movements should be discussed with your doctor.
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