There are so many ways that our bodies can tell us about various aspects of our overall health and well-being. From the more obvious (like a growling stomach when you forgot to eat breakfast) to the more specific (like weak nails that indicate you may need more calcium in your diet), our bodies are very apt at making their needs known.
ready for another another facet of the information your body gives you (hopefully) on a daily basis? As strange as it seems, what you see when you turn number two, aka the texture of your stool, can tell you a lot about your health and wellness
But before we jump in, a couple of important caveats. First, any assumptions you’re making about the texture of his stool must be combined with an idea of what else is going on in his life, because there could be another explanation. (For example, black stool they can indicate internal bleeding and require emergency medicine, but the active ingredient in Pepto Bismol can also turn your stools dark black). a light grain of salt.
Having said all of the above, we asked some experts who regularly deal with patient concerns about bowel movements to break down what the texture of your stool can tell you about your health.
The range of stool textures
Believe it or not, there is actually a certified scale for defining the texture of people’s stool called the Bristol Stool Table. This scale, according to Karla Robinson, MD, medical editor at GoodRX, ranges from one (with the firmer texture causing constipation) to seven (with the more runny texture, resembling diarrhea).
“The Bristol stool chart is a useful tool for classifying stool by shape and consistency,” says Dr. Robinson. “Healthy stool types are type three, which is sausage-shaped with cracks on the surface, and type four stool, which is sausage-shaped but smooth and soft like a snake. These are soft and easy to pass. If your stools are similar to type one, which means separate, hard, granule-like lumps that are difficult to pass, or type two, which means clumpy, sausage-shaped stools, you may have constipation. seven, ranging from mushy to mushy, may mean you have diarrhea.
The thing about this graph is that it represents a very common scale that all humans are likely to find themselves on at some point or another. “What’s important to pay attention to in your stool is a pattern that’s been going on for an extended period of time,” says Mike Hoaglin, MD, medical director of the New York State-based urgent care and telehealth provider, Dr. House. While even a bout of diarrhea is a concern and telling you clearly that something is very Outside, keep an eye on the other less obvious stool textures that can also indicate something is going on with your digestive system, especially if they occur more than once or twice. “If you regularly find yourself at either end of the scale, it’s time to start looking at your diet, behaviors, medications and talking to a care provider,” says Dr. Hoaglin.
What does it mean when your stools are too firm?
“Stool texture reflects the ‘transit time’ of stool in the colon. When stool moves too slowly through the intestine, too much water is removed from the stool, making it hard and lumpy. This is constipation. Medications, as well as neurological and psychiatric conditions, can slow down the intestine, making the transit time too long,” says Dr. Hoaglin. Basically, this is why so many constipation-related metaphors focus on “keeping things moving” or “traffic jams”: when you have constipation or firm stools, lack of lubrication is usually what slows things down .
“Inadequate fiber and fluid intake certainly causes an irregular bowel schedule,” says Kate Gerweck, RD, a dietitian specializing in gut health at Begin Health. “It’s also worth looking into whether or not you may have a food intolerance if you feel like you’re eating enough fiber and drinking enough fluids on a daily basis, but can’t stay regular.” Getting more regular water and fiber in your diet can help your tract moist and lubricated digestive tract, and the fiber in your stool can give you the “bulk” you need to move.
What does it mean when stools are too soft or loose?
“When your body wants to pass something you ate quickly, such as contaminated food or a toxic substance, it shortens digestion and speeds up intestinal transit time, so you may have to use the bathroom suddenly. This is diarrhea. When the stool doesn’t spend enough time drying out in the colon, it comes out, water and all,” he says. Dr Robinson. “This is sometimes caused by bacteria your body wants to get rid of, or something your system is intolerant to.”
Either way, when this happens, it’s important to hydrate because the looser your stool, the more water you’ll lose in the process.
“There are some common foods and drinks that can affect the way our stool forms: water, fiber, caffeine, and sugar-free foods,” says Gerweck. He can keep track of foods that may cause a loose stool response by keeping a diary and consulting with a professional.
What does it mean if your stool floats
The texture and consistency of stool is not a binary between hard and loose. There are plenty of other factors that experts take into account, too: think color, smell, and buoyancy. “For example, stool that floats may indicate an absorption problem,” says Dr. Hoaglin. Sometimes this can be a sign of a condition like celiac disease, so it’s best to ask a provider about it if he experiences it frequently.
How can you set yourself up for gut health success?
“Frequent constipation and diarrhea should be properly evaluated by your doctor. Before making any assumptions or making a diagnosis of ‘IBS,’ other gastrointestinal conditions of concern should first be ruled out,” says Dr. Hoaglin.
TL; DR? Paying attention to repeated patterns and symptoms is very important. However, a strange bowel movement is no reason to sound the alarm, but paying attention to these details of stool texture can certainly help you stay on top of your overall health.