Is Your Stool Healthy?
Hi everyone. Welcome back. Our digestive health plays a significant role in our overall well-being. Digestion is what allows our body to break down the food that we consume, absorb essential nutrients, and eliminate waste.
However, many people overlook one critical aspect of our digestive health, that is the health of our stool. Our stool can provide us with vital clues as to our digestive health and overall well-being.
In today's video, we will discuss what a healthy stool looks like, signs that you may have an unhealthy stool, factors that affect your stool, and how to improve it.
Hi, I'm Katie Bailey. I'm a gut health dietitian at Oswald Digestive Clinic, where we help individuals improve and resolve their bothersome gut issues like gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and abdominal pain.
If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms and would like to work with our clinic, you can make an appointment. Download our Free Guide "Five Ways to Improve Your Gut Health" below if you'd like to get started right away. Okay, let's start on today's topic.
Understanding Healthy Stool
Healthy stool is a sign of a healthy digestive system and can indicate a healthy diet and proper hydration. Your stool can help you identify any potential issues in your digestive system, like lack of fiber, dehydration, or the presence of infection or disease.
It can also be an indicator of how well your body is absorbing the nutrients from your food.
So what does a healthy stool look like?
The best way to describe what a healthy stool looks like is to use the Bristol stool chart, which is a medical tool that's used to classify stool. This chart describes seven types of stool:
Type one is separate, hard lumps, like nuts that are hard to pass.
Type two is sausage-shaped but lumpy.
Type three is like a sausage but with cracks on the surface.
Type four is like a sausage or snake, but smooth and soft.
Type five is soft blobs with clear-cut edges.
Type six is fluffy pieces with ragged edges and it's a mushy stool.
Type seven is watery, with no solid pieces.
Healthy stool would be considered type three or four, which suggests that you are getting enough fiber and fluids in your diet. Another thing to remember is that stools should be brown, and this color comes from bilirubin, which is produced by the liver when you break down red blood cells.
Factors Affecting Health of your Stool
Now, there are several factors that affect the health of your stool, things like your diet, your hydration, your physical activity level, stress, medications, and any underlying conditions you may have. Diet helps to determine the consistency, size, and frequency of your stool.
Consuming a diet rich in fiber helps to create bulk in your stool and makes it easier to pass, while lack of fiber creates those hard lumpy stools that are difficult to pass.
Dehydration causes your body to pull water from your stool to make up for the lack of fluids in your body, leading to those hard lumpy stools that are also hard to pass.
Signs of Unhealthy Stool
Unhealthy stool can manifest in several different ways. If the consistency is not that normal, like type one or type two in the Bristol stool chart, it could indicate constipation, and if it's type six or seven, it may indicate diarrhea.
Another thing is the color of your stool could deviate from the standard brown. You could see things like red, black, green, yellow, or white stools.
Your stool could be foul-smelling, or you may see things like fat, mucus, or blood in your stool as well. All these signs would indicate that your stool is on the unhealthy side.
How to Improve Your Stool
Improving your stool generally involves making changes to your diet and lifestyle.
First, you want to ensure you're getting adequate fiber. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds are all great sources of fiber to include in your diet.
Secondly, you want to stay hydrated, which is critical because it helps to soften the stool and make it easier to pass.
Third, you want to engage in regular physical activity because it helps stimulate the muscles in your intestines and promote healthy bowel movements.
Lastly, if you are concerned about the color of your stool, we did a previous video recently on the potential causes of different stool colors, which you might find very helpful if you're concerned about your stool color.
If you are concerned, then reach out to your healthcare provider just to make sure that there's nothing going on that may need to be addressed.
In conclusion, while it's normal for your stool to slightly vary from day to day, significant changes in your stool that persist for more than a few days can indicate an underlying issue, and it's a good idea to seek medical advice.
Maintaining your digestive health, which includes the health of your stool, is essential for your overall health. By understanding what a healthy stool looks like and what factors affect stool health, you can take proactive steps to help improve your digestive health.
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If you'd like to explore any of this information further or obtain an individualized nutrition plan, you can schedule an initial appointment at our clinic. We also take insurance and some of our clients get full coverage, which is great.
Or you can just start by downloading our FREE GUIDE: 5 WAYS TO IMPROVE GUT HEALTH