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7 Ways to Tell if Your Poop Is Healthy

It may make you squeamish to talk about it, but more and more publications like Men’sHealth are discussing how your poop can be a measure of your health. To help with this, a team from the University of Bristol has come with a scale to help you gauge your poop at home so you can help your doctor help you if you’re having gastrointestinal symptoms.

Poop

A number of factors can trigger the seven stool conditions, from failing to remain hydrated to having a gut infection or inflammatory disorder, but because you're living in the 21st century, it's no longer necessary to make guestimates about what type of changes you should make to improve your health and, thereby, the condition of your stool.

The important thing is you can avoid serious conditions like torn bowels or diverticulosis if you know how to examine your poop’s shape, color, size, frequency and behavior (floating versus sinking). To check your stool, look to see if it is:

1. Separate hard lumps, like nuts (hard to pass)

2. Sausage-shaped but lumpy

3. Like a sausage but with cracks on the surface

4. Like a sausage or snake, smooth and soft

5. Soft blobs with clear-cut edges (passed easily)

6. Fluffy pieces with ragged edges, a mush stool

7. Watery, no solid pieces or entirely liquid

Normal stool is shown in types 3, 4 and 5, "like a sausage or a snake, smooth and soft" to "soft blobs that pass easily." Type 4, however, is ideal. Color is important, too: Healthy stool should be medium to light brown. Black, tarry or bright-red stools, on the other hand, indicate bleeding in the GI tract; black stools can also come from certain medications, supplements or consuming black licorice.

If you have black, tarry stools, it's best to be evaluated by your health care provider. If you have white, pale or gray stools, it may indicate you have a serious condition such as hepatitis, cirrhosis, pancreatic disorders or even a blocked bile duct; it also could simply mean you’re consuming too many antiacids.

Fortunately, there are ways to boost your gut health, and ultimately your poop health, such as eating a diet that includes whole foods, rich in fresh, organic vegetables and fruits that provide good nutrients and fiber. Take note: Most of your fiber should come from vegetables, not from grains.

You can also boost your intestinal flora by adding naturally fermented foods into your diet, such as sauerkraut, pickles and kefir (if you tolerate dairy). If you suspect you’re still not getting enough beneficial bacteria from your diet alone, you can also add a probiotic supplement.

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