Positive food choice and nutritional assessment are quickly becoming a normal part of day to day life in 2018.
With a continual influx of health related information and the onslaught of health conscious marketing by restaurants and food brands alike, the conversation surrounding; what is actually good for the body, has never been louder or more frequent.
Funnily enough though, amongst all this analysis and commentary regarding exactly what should be going into our bodies, it’s the substance that’s leaving our bodies that is actually doing the talking for itself.
‘Have you opened your bowels today?’ is not a question that the average person hears very often, but this inquiry can be heard daily on multiple occasions from those working within the confines of aged care.
Faeces, stools, poo and excrement are just some of the terms used to reference the results of resident bowel movements; but even with this many names, stools still rank very low on the daily conversational topic chart.
While these types of conversations can be uncomfortable, they are definitely needed, as stool formation and colouring can be a window into dietary wrongdoing or an early indicator of internal illness and bowel disease.
So please pull up a potty, sit alone on your throne, as HelloCare gets to the bottom of exactly what your poo can say about you.
The Bristol Stool Scale is a diagnostic medical tool designed to classify the form of human faeces into 7 categories. It is used internationally in both clinical and experimental fields.
The scale can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of treatments for various diseases of the bowel, as well as a clinical communication aid.
Below we have a number of descriptions that can be used to identify the 7 types of formation commonly seen in stools, accompanied by their meanings.
Type 1 – Severe constipation
Appearance: Hard and separate little lumps that look like pebbles and are hard to pass
Indicates: These little pellets typically mean you’re constipated. It shouldn’t happen frequently.
Type 2 – Mild constipation
Appearance: Log-shaped but lumpy
Indicates: Here we have another sign of constipation that, again, shouldn’t happen frequently.
Type 3 – Normal
Appearance: Log-shaped with some cracks on the surface
Indicates: This is the gold standard of poop, especially if it’s somewhat soft and easy to pass.
Type 4 – Normal
Appearance: Smooth and snake-like
Indicates: Doctors also consider this a normal poop that should happen every one to three days.
Type 5 – Lacking fibre
Appearance: These are small, like the first ones, but soft and easy to pass. The blobs also have clear cut edges.
Indicates: This type of poop means you are lacking fiber and should find ways to add some to your diet through cereal or vegetables.
Type 6 – Mild diarrhea
Appearance: Fluffy and mushy with ragged edges.
Indicates: This too-soft consistency could be a sign of mild diarrhea. Try drinking more water and fruit juice to help improve this.
Type 7 – Severe diarrhea
Appearance: Completely watery with no solid pieces.
Indicates: In other words, you’ve got the runs, or diarrhea. This means your stool moved through your bowels very quickly and didn’t form into a healthy poop.
If the consistency of your stool generally resembles Type 1 or 2: This indicates that you are currently experiencing a form of constipation, which can have a number of causes including-
- Lack of fibre
- Lack of liquid
- Lack of exercise
- Nerve Disease
- Bowel problems
- Slow Transit Bowel
If the consistency of your stool generally resembles Type 3 or 4: This is the ideal consistency range for your stool, indicating a healthy bowel.
If the consistency of your stool generally resembles Type 5, 6 or 7: This indicates diarrhea which can have a number causes including-
- Bowel or Stomach Infection
- Food allergies
- Bowel disease
- Prolonged constipation
The Bristol Stool Scale is used universally as a medical guide, but please speak to a medical practitioner if you experience prolonged periods of Types 1, 2, 5, 6 and 7 stools.
While stool consistency provides a window into the inner workings of our bowels, the colour of our stools provide us with even more insight. Multi-colored pallets are visually appealing in most cases but not when it comes to stool colouration.
Below we have a number of descriptions that can be used to identify the 6 shades of colour commonly seen in stools, accompanied by their meanings.
BLACK: Unless you have eaten copious amounts of licorice or you are currently taking medications or iron supplements: this is not a good sign.
This can be a sign of bleeding in the upper intestinal tract.
GREEN: Woah, woah .. calm down. Green is actually quite normal, especially when the person is consuming green foods. If you are not consuming green foods this can indicate that your food is passing through your system too quickly.
WHITE/PALE/CLAY COLOURED : Pale stools can occur as a result of using certain medications, if you are not using using any medication though, this is not a good sign. Pale stools indicate a lack of bile (digestive fluid) which may indicate an internal blockage.
RED: Red stools can be an indication of hemorrhoids or even bleeding within your lower intestinal tract, in most cases though, its merely an indication that you have been eating red colored food.
YELLOW: Yellow stools are generally a sign that you are consuming too much fat but they can also relate to a malabsorption disorder like celiac disease.
BROWN: Any shade of brown is the ideal colouration of your stools. This indicates healthy bowels.
While both the references of stool formation and colouring can be helpful, any prolonged periods of fecal inconsistency from either category should be seen to by a medical professional.
The Australian Cancer Council encourages anyone over the age of 50 to undergo a FOBT (Faecal Occult Blood Test) every two years, as a means of early detection for bowel cancer.
These tests can be performed by a doctor or done in the privacy of your own home with a personal test kit.
No matter how uncomfortable or embarrassing topics like this can be, those feelings pale in comparison to the consequences that avoiding these conversations can entail.
Identifying a potential health risk in its early stages can have massive implications in the lives of you and your loved ones.