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What does your poop reveal about your health?

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Bowel habits and general health

Gabriel Neal, MD, family medicine doctor and clinical assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Medicine has some valuable information about what your bowel movement can reveal about your overall health.


5 things to know about poop

  • We all have bowel movement and going to the bathroom regularly is important. Neal explains 3 times a week or less is the definition of chronic constipation that should be explored by your doctor.
  • Poop is the body’s way of getting rid of waste. What we don’t use for nutrition needs to be eliminated to keep the body running efficiently.
  • Don’t worry if your poop is a bit on the green side instead of brown. Neal says it just means your body digested food more quickly - it normally takes 3 days for food to turn into excrement.
  • Ideally, bowel movements should be soft and slightly dense. But that doesn’t mean you should worry if that changes slightly. Having more or less frequent trips to the bathroom shouldn’t be a cause for concern as long as everything feels fines, Neal says.
  • You shouldn’t have to strain to have a bowel movement. If you do, speak with your doctor about what you might do to change your diet. For instance, eating more fiber. The average person should be eating 28 grams of fiber a day for digestive health.

See: Starches that protect from colon cancer

When a change in habits could signal a problem

If your bowel movement suddenly changes in form or consistent or to having one a day to 3 day it could mean something is wrong. Neal said sudden changes that are significant signal an underlying condition.

Foul smelling poop (the kind that can send the dog running for cover) could mean a food sensitivity or digestive problem.

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White poop could be a sign of gallbladder disease, which also means you should alert your doctor.

Tips for making bowel movements healthy and easy

Sometimes all you need is a little extra water to ensure a soft, painless and regular bowel movement.

Eating noni-soluble fiber such as beans can help food pass through your system and soften your bowel movement - beans are not just “musical fruit”.

If you struggle with passing stool (the medical term for poop), you could be eating too much starch and protein. Consider adding more veggies to your diet.

Who knew poop could tell you so much about our overall health?

Resource: Texas A&M University