Describing the perfect poo is similar to describing your dream partner. There are things that would make it absolutely perfect, but in reality there’s not always the one that will tick every single box. There are some days when you know it’s just not working, and you’re pretty fed up. But luckily for you and your poo, we have a few things to look out for to help maintain your long-term relationship.
The perfect poo!
The ideal poo vaguely resembles a banana shape, and it’s not too hard or too soft. It doesn’t make you strain or hurt to pass, and the smell doesn’t send you running for the hills. Most people feel best with one or two nicely formed poos a day. It shouldn’t come with a sudden urgency, you should be able to hold it in until you get the bathroom and once you go, it feels like you’ve completely emptied your bowels.
Having regular couple time
Although it is common for people to pass a stool once or twice a day, being ‘regular’ is a relative term. We’re talking about what is regular for you. Three bowel movements a day to three per week is considered within the normal range. The thing to watch for is a sudden change in your bowel habits.
If you’re not going, you’re constipated. The most common causes of constipation include a change in routine, not enough fibre in the daily diet, not enough fluids and lack of exercise. Less common causes include certain medications and medical conditions.
HINT - For one-off constipation, consider upping your intake of both water and fibrous foods. If constipation continues for more than a week or is commonly recurring, visit your health care provider.
Knowing how your partner feels
No, we’re not asking you to cuddle up to your poo, but knowing the texture of your poop can tell us a thing or two about our digestive processes.
- Hard and dry
A tough poo isn’t moving through your digestive fast enough. There’s not enough water or all the water has been reabsorbed by the body.
HINT – Drinking more water is a vital, however adding in fibrous foods including chia seeds, slippery elm, fruit and veggies can help.
- Soft, loose and sloppy
This poo has moved quickly through your digestive tract. This excess water doesn’t have a chance to be absorbed by the body.
HINT - Increasing soluble fibre which will soak up extra fluid and bulk up the stools. Foods that have soluble fibre include wholegrains, ground nuts, psyllium and legumes.
- Stinky, slimy, sticks to the side of the toilet
Fat in the stool can cause a sticky, slimy residue and is an indication that your body isn’t properly absorbing and using its nutrients.
HINT – the liver and gallbladder are responsible for digesting fats. Look after them with bitter foods (like rocket, lemon juice, green tea and apple cider vinegar) and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower).
If you can see mucous in your poo or on your toilet paper, this may be a sign of inflammation of the mucous membranes of the digestive tract.
HINT - Slippery elm and aloe vera juice (made from the gel of the leaves) can help reduce this inflammation, however if it persists, book in a visit with your doctor.
- Extra bits!
Sometimes we get deja-poo, and see undigested food in our stools. Some foods like corn can resist digestion, but usually this shows that you haven’t chewed your food enough or are lacking in digestive enzymes.
HINT - practice mindful eating and chew every mouthful at least 10 times before swallowing.
To float or not to float?
It’s not a widely known fact but a floater is an indication of a healthy microbiome. A floating poo contains fibre. The fibre attracts bacteria, which create gas, and this allows the poo to rise in the water. However, there is a difference between a healthy floater and one that refuses to flush. If this is a recurring problem for you, be sure to book in a check-up with your doctor.
HINT – Add in soluble fibre to feed those good bacteria. Try adding extra wholegrains and aim for 5-7 servings of vegetables each day.
Keeping up appearances
Poo is brown due to the bile produced in the liver. Bile is naturally green, but as it mixes with food we have eaten, it changes to brown in our colon.
If your poo has gone through the intestines quickly, like it does with diarrhoea, it has less time to turn brown. Hence, a green poo can indicate a quick transit time!
Pale cream/ white
If there’s no bile in the stool, it can be a very pale colour. This is a rare thing to see, however it can indicate an obstruction to the bile duct which is a medical emergency.
Black and tarry
Black poo may have its colour from bleeding in the digestive system, which must be checked with a doctor immediately. It may also turn this colour from certain medication, iron supplements or a diet high in licorice, Guinness and/or blueberries. If your poo is black or tarry you need to seek medical attention to get it checked.
Red or marroon coloured poop can be a reminder of a meal laden with beetroot. If it is bright red, this may be a sign of bleeding in the digestive tract, including haemorrhoids, and warrants a trip to the doctor.
Any changes to your poo's consistency, colour or frequency which last more than a few days should be reported to your doctor.