What does your poop look like?
You may find it hard to believe, but a lot can be said about normal processes that occur within our body just by analysing our poop. Changes in the colour, consistency, texture and even smell can indicate an abnormality within the bowel or digestive system. Even the Oprah Show and Doctor Oz have dedicated an episode of their shows to this topic.
In this article, I’d like to explore how our poop can change, if we suffer of irritable bowel syndrome.
What is healthy poop?
Surprised by the term ‘healthy poop’? Well, don’t be. The food that we consume is broken down into its natural components by enzymes that are present within our digestive system. During this process, nutrients absorbed through the bowel loops and any remnants such as fibre and waste material is passed out of the body as poop. The colour and smell of poop is imparted by compounds such as stercobilinogen. Typically, the poop is a varying shade of brown from light to medium brown, and any alterations in this such as black stool or green stool can in fact indicate a pathological process occurring within the body. For example, the passing of jet black stools that is very foul smelling can indicate the possibility of bleeding within the stomach.
A healthy poop should be shaped like an S and have a uniform and smooth texture, not too hard nor too soft, formed into one long shape and not breaking off into small fluffy pieces.
Irritable bowel syndrome and the poop problem
People like me that suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, also called IBS, understand what I am talking about because this is a condition where the bowels tend not to work properly. Instead of the individual passing normally formed stools, we suffer from diarrhoea or constipation (or sometimes both).
Diarrhoea is when the poop is looser and more watery. The exact cause is not known, some research says that symptoms can be triggered by emotional stress, hormonal changes and food allergies. Certain studies have also shown an increase in the electrical activity within the muscles of the colon in patients with diarrhoea predominant IBS. Some individuals who have IBS may also pass excessive flatulence and have mucous in their poop. Mucous may be seen due to inflammation and incomplete absorption of water from the bowel loops.
Constipation is when IBS sufferers have difficulty opening their bowels and passing stools regularly and when they do, it’s harder and lumpy. As explained before the cause is not clear but some scientific studies have shown that motor impulses that are transmitted along the colon occur at short intervals which in turn slow down bowel movements.
Irritable bowel syndrome can also present as a combination of both diarrhoea and constipation as well and this occurs primarily due to a combination of the above mechanisms. Inflammation of the bowel loops also plays an important role and is a contributing factor in the pathogenesis. Bacterial overgrowth has also been implicated.
Our poop indicates our health and the frequency with which we open our bowels can indicate the presence of irritable bowel syndrome. Making a note of our personal habits can help manage the condition easily and effectively. Clearly, our poop is not just the digested food but a lot more!
I hope you have enjoyed this post away from your meals 😉