We all do it. Number twos are not something to be embarrassed about yet we generally shy away from conversations about it or seek the advice of an expert when we’re concerned. I bet you’ve found yourself pondering about poop at least a few times in your life. So what the poop, let’s get to it and answer some of your lingering loo questions.
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The guts of it
We know that our gut is intricately related to our health on many levels. What we see on the toilet is often a reflection of your overall health and can signal wider issues, like food intolerances, like gluten, or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Below we set the record straight on some of the most common myths and misconceptions about numbers twos.
A sign of healthy stool is in the shape – False
Just like bodies, healthy poops come in all shapes and sizes – curvy, long, round and more. How it looks depends on how much fibre and water you’ve had that day, as well as how fast things move along in your colon. However, if your stools are thin and narrow for several weeks it’s recommended you see a doctor to check it’s not a digestive disorder.
There’s a ‘correct’ way to poop – True
Research has proven that our position on the toilet can have implications on how we poop. Apparently sitting with a tighter angle between your thigh and pelvis (like a squatting position) is the best way to relieve yourself. “That change in the angle helps to give people a better pelvic floor push,” explained gastroenterologist Patricia Raymond, M.D., to Women’s Health.
A healthy poo schedule is once a day – False
Contrary to popular belief there is no universal ‘healthy’ poop schedule. Experts say it all comes down to the person and what’s ‘normal’ will differ for everyone. For some, having a bowel movement three times a day is normal, while others will go every three days and that’s also fine. Only you know what’s abnormal for you. If you usually go daily and suddenly aren’t going as frequently, then it might be cause for concern. Or, conversely, if you’re sticking to your usual schedule but still feel backed up and uncomfortable that’s not normal either.
It’s normal to have pain while pooping – True & False
Some level of strain is totally normal, especially if you haven’t drank enough water or consumed adequate fibre. Giving a gentle push is a reflexive mechanism that relaxes the anus, allowing it to open and the rectum to squeeze so that you can push out the stool. A little gentle push at the beginning is okay, but not a prolonged strain. However, if the pain is past the point of bearable it’s most likely something else. Common types of pain near the exit point include anal fissures, haemorrhoids and IBS. Watch out for a cutting feeling that’s felt only on evacuation.
The colour of poop is telling – True
While not necessarily telling of something of significance, it’s telling nonetheless. For example, if you’ve had beetroot you’re stool may have a red tinge to it, not to be confused with blood! Poop comes in a range of colours from brown to green, most of which are considered normal. Only rarely does the colour of stool indicate a more serious condition. Stool color is generally influenced by what you eat as well as by the amount of bile — a yellow-green fluid that digests fats — in your stool. As bile pigments travel through your gastrointestinal tract, they are chemically altered by enzymes, changing the pigments from green to brown.