WHAT did your last number two look like?
A gut health expert has lifted the lid on what your poo says about your overall health – and what your bowel movements should really look like.
Carla Oates, CEO of health website The Beauty Chef, said while people understand that hair, nails, eyes can reveal the state of our health, not many people think about poo.
"Bowel movements can give great insight into our health—so a healthy poo is more important than you may realise," Carla, from Sydney, Australia, wrote on her website.
"Your poo is always talking to you," she explained. "But have you been listening?"
Recent studies have suggested an average adult should poo anywhere from three times per day to three times per week.
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Stress and drinking can impact the frequency of your bowel movement, she explained.
"When you’re stressed, this triggers the body’s 'fight or flight' response, slowing down digestion so that the body can focus its attention on fighting the perceived threat," Carla wrote.
In cases of severe stress, digestion may stop altogether, according to Harvard Medical School.
"Ever noticed a change in your bowel habits after a boozy weekend? It’s not all in your head," the expert said.
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One recent study found that strong booze (like spirts) can cause constipation while drinks containing low alcohol doses (such as wine and beer) can lead to diarrhoea.
When it comes to what it should look like, she said the Bristol Stool Chart is a good place to start.
The chart, which was created back in 1998, provides graphics of the seven most common stool consistencies across the spectrum from constipation to normal gut health and diarrhoea.
The stool types range from number one's 'rabbit droppings' all the way through to number seven's 'gravy'.
Types three and four – both sausage like poops – are considered to be optimal, according to Carla.
"If you’re not already there, this is what we should all be aiming for," she added.
When you go to the toilet can also reveal whether you're healthy.
When to visit the doctor about your poop
Usually, irregular changes in a pooping habits usually resolve within a short amount of time and are no cause for concern.
But please see your GP if your issues don't clear up within one to two weeks, or you have any of the following issues:
- blood in the poop
- black poop
- new onset of “pencil-thin” poop
- weight loss or fever that accompanies diarrhoea or constipation
- severe abdominal pain
- vomiting blood or a substance that looks like coffee grounds
Source: Medical News Today
"While there is no ideal time, if you are going roughly around the same time each day, this is usually a sign that your digestive system is functioning well," Naturopath Jessie Hoeschle said.
And while all poo has some sort of odour, “If it is consistently foul, overpowering, or has a smell you’re not used to, it may require further investigation,” Jessie explains.
Just as poo comes in all shapes and sizes, it can come in a variety of colours too, such as brown, black, green, red, yellow or even pale white.
We should all aim for a medium brown coloured stool, Jessie said.
“However, this will vary depending on your diet and the amount of bile present (this is what gives poo its brown colour).”
“Green, yellow and red poo can be caused by specific foods and medications.
"That said, there are some changes in colour that you should watch out for—white, yellow or clay-coloured poo may indicate changes in bile production or release," she said.
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Jessie added: “Tar-coloured or black poo may indicate the presence of blood within your digestion, and bright red blood is often the sign of a fissure or haemorrhoid.
"Any unusual changes in poo colour should definitely be consulted with your healthcare practitioner.”
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