10 things your stool says about your overall health – and when to be worried

Posted: 5th January 2024

A health expert has listed ten things your stool can tell you about your overall and why it is so important to know. Speaking to podcast host Steven Bartlett on a recent episode of his show, Diary of a CEO, Dr Will Bulsiewicz went into depth about the top ten things people need to be aware of.

Dr Will Bulsiewicz better known as Dr B, is an American board-certified gastroenterologist and author. He is best known for his exploration of the relationship between the gut microbiome and plant-based nutrition.

While discussing the importance and checking your stool after going to the toilet, Dr B explained your stool reveals crucial information about overall health. He added how the stigmatisation of stools has hindered “necessary discussions about its significance”.

He went on: “We should be looking in the bowl, and the reason why is because if I were a cardiologist, I would come over and check your pulse, I would listen to your heart, and those vital signs would allow me to have an idea of how you’re doing, on a basic level. I’m a gastrologist, if I want to know the basics of what’s going on with you and your body, I need to know how you are pooping.”

Revealing a way people can check what their stool is telling them, Dr B says the Bristol Stool Chart can help, as it lists stool types based on form and consistency. According to the NHS, “if a poo does not look like type 3 or type 4 it could be constipation. Contact the GP surgery of the person you are caring for.”

Since 60% of stool weight is microbial, it can offer insight into your gut’s health and microbiome. For stools that look like type 1 and type 2, Dr B says this correlates with constipation and slow gut transit time (over 58 hours).

On the other end of the spectrum, fast gut transit time results in diarrhoea (type 6 and 7). However, short chain fatty acids produced by fibre-rich diets can help with a healthier stool.

In regards to the colours of stools and their significance, Dr B said brown is normal, as it is attributed to healthy bile production. White indicates a bile blockage, potentially linked to liver issues. On the other hand, if you are struggling to process fat, you could have a yellow-coloured stool.

As for green stools, Dr B says there are a couple reasons for this, some are healthy, some are not. “So you could have diarrhoea from an infectious cause, an example could be something called Giardia, which is a parasite and that’ll give you green poop. But you could also go too hard on the smoothies. I was drinking like 40 ounces of green smoothies a day and my poop would come out green.”

Red and black stools may signal issues like bleeding, with red stools possibly indicative of serious conditions like colon cancer. In an alarming statement, Dr B warned there is a shift towards younger people being diagnosed with colon cancer, which could be due to our diets changing.

“The connections between the gut microbiome and colon cancer are as powerful as any type of cancer,” he explained. Referencing a study conducted by New Zealand professor Andrew Reynolds, Dr B said the research found there’s a “powerful association between fibre consumption and protecting ourselves from colon rectal cancer. So powerful that for five grams of fibre that we increase in our diet, we are getting a significant reduction in our risk of colon cancer.”

Source: 10 things your stool says about your overall health – and when to be worried (msn.com)

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