In this analysis, we will look into different types of stools and determine the healthiest types (Section A) and follow up with holistic interventions for abnormal stools (Section B).
There are seven types of stools according to the Bristol Stool Chart. The Bristol Stool Chart or Bristol Stool Scale is a medical aid designed to classify faeces into seven groups.
The type of stool or faeces depends on the time it spends in the colon and the result of one’s diet, fluids, medications and lifestyle. The Bristol Stool Chart can be used to check what stools reflect. The Bristol Stool Chart shows seven categories of stool.
Type 3–4 are ideal stools as they are easier to pass, and
The Bristol Stool Scale is a chart that categorizes human feces into 7 different types based on appearance. A hospital in England created the chart to assess intestinal function in patients. The following is a brief description of each type of poop according to the Bristol Stool scale: (1, 2)
The Bristol Stool Scale
Type 1-2: Associated with Constipation
Type 1: Stool is characterized by hard, separate lumps often difficult to excrete. If you have a pet rabbit perhaps you will understand this comparison.
Type 2: Very lumpy but otherwise formed stool.
Type 3-4: Normal
Type 3: Comparable to a sausage with slight cracks on the surface.
Type 4: The ideal poop; Described as soft, smooth and snake-like in appearance.
Type 5-7: Associated with Diarrhea
Type 5: Soft, separate and easily passed stool.
Type 6: Described as mushy stool with ragged edges attributed by excess liquid.
Type 7: Stool not containing any solids but instead is entirely liquid.
Normal stool is the result of a healthy digestive system ridding the body of waste. It should be brown in color as a result of bile that has been excreted from the liver to aid in digestion. Normal stool should also not have any visible food products that look the same coming out as they did going in, this would signify a lack of gastric juices, enzymes and not enough mastication. One should drink solids and chew liquids. All foods should be first well mixed with saliva and enzymes in the mouth so that the nutrients are digested appropriately later on.
Abnormal stool can be the first hint that something is not right. Simple factors such as color and consistency can serve as major red flags for doctors to test for medical conditions. Doctors look for these characteristics to determine poop is normal or not.
Red Flag: Color
Red, dark or pale green and even black stool should trigger immediate attention. The following colors of stool can indicate the following health issues.
Red: Red indicates blood and may be representative of bleeding along the lower gastrointestinal tract such as the large intestine or rectum and may indicate a number of pathologies, including, but not limited to cancer and diverticulitis.
Green: Green is an indication that nutrients were not properly absorbed from the food matter and could be a sign of Crohn’s disease, or gallbladder disease.
Black: Black is a sign of upper gastrointestinal tract bleeding possibly from the stomach or even esophagus. Ulcers, cancer or chronic inflammation from disease may to blame. Sometimes hard to detect the presence of blood in black stool, at home kits are available for initial testing. (7)
Red Flag: Shape
The two major conditions attributed to the shape of the last poop can indicate if one is experiencing constipation or diarrhea. These conditions may be alarming features that require further investigation if symptoms persist longer than 3 days.
According to the Bristol Stool Scale, constipation is evident by poop that is not continuous because of straining, lack of liquid and excess gas (1). Going to the bathroom fewer than 3 times this week is considered constipated by medical standards (2). Diarrhea is the opposite and contains excess liquid making it easy to go and hard to hold.
Red Flag: Deficiency of Fiber and Constipation
A common problem today is constipation, most people just dont take enough fiber, 50 grams of whichh showed accompany each meal. Individuals over 50 years of age are at increased risk of Crohn’s disease, bowel polyps and ulcerative colitis and are recommended for medical screening (7).
Red Flag: Stress Increases Constipation
One of the main triggers of is stress. The gut has been titled as the “second brain” because of its interaction with the brain. The gut influences the same neurotransmitters affected by emotions such as anger and anxiety and has more neurons lining the gut than are contained in the spinal cord (9, 10). Furthermore, the vagus nerve extends from the brain to your gut and is affected by stress. As a result, histamine, cortisol and other chemicals are secreted by the body stimulating inflammation and weakening the immune system. (9, 10)
In the face of a threat, the body shuts off the immune and gastrointestinal systems and responds with an increased heart rate, dilated pupils, glucose production and a heightened sense of hearing preparing your body for a fight or flight. If these threat and chronic stress situations are common, they can result in constipation.
Red Flag: Medications Cause Constipation
Pharmaceutical drugs are known to cause constipation include, but not limimted to antihistamine drugs, antidepressants, chemotherapy drugs and analgesic drugs such as opioids. These drugs have been found to be the cause of constipation in 90% of cancer patients and up to 40% of non-cancer patients (2).
Conditions Associated with Constipation
Problematic symptoms associated with the formation and movement of stool throughout the body may manifest in a variety of symptoms. Irrelevant of color, the symptom of constipation alone is linked to a variety of conditions and diseases, some of which are listed below.
1. Colorectal Cancer: Although constipation may simply result from dehydration, if you have a history of colon cancer or inflammatory bowel disease in your family you should get tested.
2. Ulcerative Colitis: Ulcerative colitis is a disease that is strongly associated with the increase in white blood cells in the colon (2, 4). These cells produce inflammation in order to defend the body from infection and trigger a domino effect of health consequences. Inflammation increases the permeability of the intestine and allows bad bacteria to sneak through intestine’s porous lining and cause infection in neighboring organs, all of which can produce an immune response with autoimmunity, where the immune systems attack any tissue that will look like that bacteria or undisgested food that seepted through the leaky junctions.
3. Constipation Dominant IBS:
Irritable bowel syndrome is the most frequently diagnosed gastrointestinal disorder affecting an estimated 90 million people worldwide (6). IBS results from a change in the movement of gas through the intestines leading to abdominal pain, constipation or diarrhea. Researchers are learning that these patients have a problem with their guts, possibly a result of the mind-gut connection. (4)
Scientists have noticed a significant difference in how the brain responds to anxiety and fear in individuals with IBS. The link between the brain and the gut is therefore partially responsible for the secretion, absorption and motility of poop through the intestines.
Another cause of IBS may be a result of decreased healthy bacteria such as lactobacilli and bifidobacteria. These two kinds of bacteria compete with pathogens to take up space and do not stimulate gas production. Studies have found that IBS patients have decreased activity of these bacteria in the colon. (4)
IBS is also related to SIBO or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. This is where there is an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine. SIBO damages the intestinal lining and creates a state of mild-severe leaky gut syndrome and resulting food allergies, sensitivities and chronic inflammatory processes (2). The malnutrition and inflammation this causes can lead to bouts of diarrhea and constipation.
4. Psychological Stressors: Constipation is frequently problematic in people suffering from depression, anxiety, and eating disorders. Again, the mind is so intrinsically designed and effective at prioritizing life’s demands that at times it might seem like it can work against us.
5. Neurological Problems: Especially in people over 50 years of age, constipation can be a cause for concern because of the effects that nerves play in connection to the gut. A long term change in one’s bowel habits may be an indication of dementia, muscular dystrophy, stroke or Parkinson’s disease (2).
Conditions Associated with Diarrhea
Although constipation may seem like a more dominant problem, diarrhea can also be a sign of declining health. Despite the frequency of bowel movements, diarrhea is associated with 3 of the 7 types of poop according to the Bristol Stool Scale. Individuals suffering from diarrhea typically have an infection due to bacteria overgrowth (1).
1. Infection: The microbiota, or gut environment, needs to be a priority for maintaining a healthy bowel regimen. The colon can contain upwards of 500 to more than 10,000 different bacterial species influenced by diet, environment, age, synthetic chemicals and antibiotics. An overgrowth of bad bacteria and viruses can lead to a gut infection and resulting diarrhea. Healthy bacteria in the gut can relieve symptoms associated with diarrhea and prevent the body from infectious agents such as harmful bacteria (6, 11).
2. Bile Acid Malabsorption: Researchers recognize that diarrhea may be an underappreciated symptom of bile acid malabsorption. Bile acid is produced by the liver to help absorb lipids in the small intestine. Diarrhea can therefore be a signal from one’s body that a greater problem exists. Disorders may include Crohn’s disease, Celiac disease (gluten intolerance), liver cancer or pancreatitis. (5, 6)
3. Diarrhea Dominant IBS: Diarrhea is also associated with IBS symptoms. If diarrhea is a persistent problem, IBS may be to blame (3). Weight loss might be another side effect that results in individuals who have diarrhea dominant IBS.
Holistic Interventions to Achieve Healthy Poop
First off, it is imperative to develop a healthy stress management holistic lifestyle by removing stressors in one’s life and by calming one’s mind through the practice of meditation and many other Life enhancing holistic techniques the Institute recommends. In the meantime, the following tips can help to achieve success by making a few changes in one’s lifestyle.
1. Squat like in the French public restrooms: Don’t just cop a squat as one might do in a public restroom but squat to poop, that’s how we humans and monkeys where designed to evacuated stools. In France, most public toilets are floor holes. Without a floor toilet, one can place one’s feet on a stool or trash can and leaning forward can relieve the tension from the intestines, thanks to which the stool elimination is done with greater ease. (8)
2. Hydrate: Increasing daily consumption of water and decreasing drinks that may be adversely affecting health is highly recommended. Drinking least half one’s body weight in ounces is usually recommended, but it depends on oneself lifestyle and individuality. In the summertime, drinking additional water is recommended, especially if there is lots of sweating. Drinking 8-24oz of clean water first thing in the morning with lemon juice does wonders, at least 30 minutes to an hour before eating, this will help induce gut motility and healthy bowel activity. The morning is the most active time for the colon to eliminate waste. Mammals including humans are creatures of habits and of circadian rythymes, hence, the body will clock itself for proper evacuation often at the same time of the day.
3. Salt Water and apple cider vinegar: The salt-water flush has been used for centuries to improve bowel motility. Simply take a 1 tsp of salt in 2-4 oz of water and swallow it down. Follow this up with 8-16oz of water. The salt helps to flush the colon. AC vinegar in water can also be a plus.
4. Avoiding Processed Foods and the like: Having to wipe too many times may be a consequence of too much mucus in your colon. Eliminate or reduce manufactured and highly processed foods and hard alcohol from the diet. While quality wine in moderation is actually healthy for the gut, too much and-or hard alcohol damages the gut. Staying away from gluten and its major protein gliadin,, pasteurized dairy, GMO glyphosated soy, corn and moldy non fresh peanuts is also wise .
5. Medication Intervention: Medications affect gut health and produce common side effects such as constipation and diarrhea.
6. Increase Healthy Gut Bacteria: The microbiome and activity of bacteria in the gut changes daily (5). Introduce healthy bacteria into your diet by taking a daily probiotic and consuming fermented foods such as saurkraut, kimchii, coconut yogurt and coconut water kefir. Probiotics increase intestinal health and protect against inflammation, increased permeability apparent in those with leaky gut syndrome and hypersensitivity concerns in patients with IBS and psychological disturbances (4).
7. Avoid Food Allergens and Sensitivities: Certain foods like wheat, dairy or smoked meat products can increase abdominal discomfort and change the frequency or urge to poop (4). Test for and avoid food sensitivities using a biofeedback test or specific blood test or even the elimination diet.
8. Increase Fiber: Fiber can be found in a supplement source typically containing psyllium but it is best to receive the benefits from fiber from nature. Increase the amount and variety of fruits and vegetables into the diet. Individuals consuming plant based diets have been studied to have fewer carcinogens in their microbiome than those who primarily consume meat. (5) (2) 50 grams of fiber per meal or at least per day is recommended. Flax and chia, with psyllium are good supplements.
9. Decrease Reliance on Laxatives: Although traditional laxatives may be the first offensive move to treat constipation, laxatives have not significantly proven beneficial at relieving pain and may aggravate the problem. Instead of relying on a laxative in pill form, try a more natural approach by drinking apple, pear or prune juice. (2) (4) Magnesium is also possible.
10. Poop retention not indicated: Holding it in allows water and nutrients to be reabsorbed back into the body. Poop is waste and if the urge presents itself, do not hesitate to go, including behind a tree, but discretely in order not to get a ticket and with a shovel for proper burial. The tree will thank you.
11. Supplement Magnesium Into your Diet: Magnesium can stimulate the movement of stool through the bowels by serving as a muscle relaxant (8). Magnesium is easily depleted under chronic stress but can be replenished in our food supply. Excellent food sources of magnesium include green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds and some fruits such a bananas and apples.
12. Exercise: Increasing physical activity has provided significant health benefits both physically and emotionally. Inducing a cardiorespiratory fitness response increases oxygen consumption in the body.Exercise has been studied to decrease the frequency of pain, regulate bowel movements, combat fatigue, decrease cortisol and alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety (3).
13. Proper Testing for SIBO or Candida: Unhealthy stools are a red flag sign of microbial dysbiosis. This is often due to small intestinal bacterial overgrowth or Candida.
14. Carminitive Herbs: Carminatives are herbs that stimulate the digestive system to work better. These herbs contain a high content of volatile oils that are effective at expelling gas and easing griping pains from the stomach and intestines. They also tone the mucous surfaces & increase peristaltic action within the esophagus, stomach. This peristaltic action propels food and wastes through the system. The major carminative herbs include coriander, cinnamon, ginger, juniper, anise, fennel, cloves, caraway, dill, peppermint, thyme and licorice. These carminatives are often combined with aloe. Aloe is a cathartic herb that increases intestinal transit time and is used to alleviate constipation. These herbs help to tone down the powerful gripping effect that aloe often promotes in the gut. This combination helps stimulate effective and comfortable stools for those with chronic constipation.
15. A Senna based Tea: Used for thousands of years to get bowel “movement” going again, senna works by gently stimulating one’s intestines and aiding the body’s natural elimination process. Senna can be combined with other carminitive herbs like fennel, coriander and ginger to reduce the potential for unpleasant feelings like cramping. Bedtime is best to help improve bowel movements the following morning.
16. Gut Repair diet and supplements: The institute recommendes a combination of different types of foods and supplements like aloe vera along, licorice, L-glutamine, arbinoglactan (12) and many other elements that the viewer can discuss via coaching session or in workshops.
Actually, you are what you DIGEST. In people who have dysbiosis, nutrient assimilaiton is greatly compromised.
Scheduling a coaching session to learn more about gastroenterology can help the viewer to produce the best poops ever, including in compost toilettes that can be used to produce lush trees and healthy soil. The Earth worms will thank you.
Reference and Precision Notes
1. Thabit AK, and Nicolau DP. Lack of Correlation between Bristol Stool Scale and Quantitative Bacterial Load in Clostridium difficile Infect Dis. 2015 Feb;8:1-4. PMCID 4346303
2. Schuster BG, Kosar L, and Kamrul R. Constipation in older adults: Stepwise approach to keep things moving. Can Fam Physician. 2015 Feb;61(2):152-158. PMCID: 4325863
3. Johannesson, et al. Intervention to increase physical activity in irritable bowel syndrome shows long-term positive effects. World J Gastroenterol. 2015 Jan;21(2):600-608. DOI: 3748/wjg.v21.i2.600
4. Bellini M, Gambaccini D, et al. Irritable bowel syndrome: A disease still searching for pathogenesis, diagnosis and therapy. World J Gastroenterol. 2014 July;20(27):8807-8820. PMCID: PMC4112881
5. David LA, Maurice CF, et al. Diet rapidly and reproducibly alters the human gut microbiome. Nature. 2014 Jan;505(7484):559-563. PMCID PMC3957428
6. Islam RS, and DiBaise JK. Bile Acids: An Underrecognized and Underrappreciated Cause of Chronic Diarrhea. Practical Gastroenterology. 2012 Oct;32-44. Link Here
7. Cancer Research UK: About bowel cancer screening Link Here
8. TEDx: The answer to your health is in your poop Link Here
9. Corcoran CD, et al. Vagus nerve stimulation in chronic treatment-resistant depression. The British J Psych. 2006 Sep;189(3)282-283. DOI: 1192/bjp.bp.105.018689
10. King’s Psychology Network: The Enteric Nervous System: The Brain in the Gut Link Here
11. The Genome Institute: Human Microbiome Project Link Here
12. Arbinoglactan minimizes ammonia synthesis and absorption, enhances production of short chain fatty acids and increases the gut microflora population. It is one of the best fiber sources for healthy bowel movements
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