Believe it or not, there’s a scale that medical professionals use to assess the health of your digestive system based on your poo. It’s called the Bristol Stool Scale. It was developed in 1997 by Dr. Ken Heaton at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom. It divides feces (stool, poop, excrement, number two) into seven categories.
Type 1 are separate hard lumps that are difficult to pass and are an indication of serious constipation.
Type 2 is described by the Bristol Scale as “lumpy and sausage like” and is considered an indication of a milder form of constipation.
Types 3 and 4 are considered normal, or ideal, and they are sausage shaped with cracks in the surface (Type 3) or a smooth, soft sausage or snake (Type 4) that is easy to pass.
Type 5 is poo that comes out in distinct, soft blobs with clear cut edges. This type is considered to be an indicator of a lack of fiber in the diet.
Type 6 has a mushy consistency with ragged edges and is an indicator of inflammation.
Type 7, often called diarrhea, is a completely liquid consistency with no solid pieces and is also an indicator of inflammation.
Your poo can be a very good indicator of overall health. What you’re eating can change the texture, even the color of your poo. Here are some things to watch out for.
The common cause of constipation (Types 1 and 2) is a lack of fiber. Most adults in the US get about 15 grams of fiber daily and the recommended amount is 25 for women and 30-38 for men. Best dietary change to make is to add high fiber foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds.
If you take an over-the-counter medication for digestive distress, it may cause your poo to turn black temporarily, due to a chemical reaction between your digestive system and the active ingredient in the medication. If you notice blood in the toilet bowl, you’ll want to contact your doctor to rule out an ulcer or colon cancer.
If your poo is loose but you wouldn’t call it diarrhea, you might want to get tested for Celiac disease, especially if you have loose stools several times a day. It could be a gluten intolerance underneath it.
If you poo floats instead of sinks to the bottom of the toilet, it could be a temporary effect of eating a lot of food that make you gassy, like beans or cabbage, or it could be an indication of a more serious problem such as an infection in the pancreas. It’s good to discuss this with your doctor to rule out anything serious.
If you’re on an antibiotic and your poo is dark green and liquidy, you may have an infection that definitely requires immediate medical attention. Poo that comes out pencil thin for more than a day or two is also a red flag that should alert you to contact your doctor.
As with all measures of good health, a regular, balanced diet high in fruits and vegetables, such as the kind that goes along with your Spatz3 adjustable gastric balloon, will keep your poo in the zone.
Rebeca Espinoza writes about health, fitness and weight loss for Spatz Medical, makers of the Spatz3 Adjustable Gastric Balloon. You can find her on Google+ or at firstname.lastname@example.org.