As we've all been told, everybody poops. But did you know that your poop could reveal the true state of your current health? If you know what to look out for, a quick glance at your outgoing waste could tell you everything you need to know. You may find out that you're as healthy as you could possibly be, or conversely, that you might have to book an appointment with your doctor ASAP.
Sometimes You Just Have To Leave It To The Professionals
Checking out your own poop and being able to recognize health problems is cool, but sometimes it's best to get to an expert and let them figure out the specifics. If you're experiencing bloody diarrhea, nausea, fever, abnormal levels of gas, or abdominal pain, along with poop that isn't your normal, it's time to make an appointment with your doctor.
When you see a doctor about your poop problems, they'll be able to take a stool sample and diagnose the exact problem. Stool tests are able to reveal infections, parasites, liver problems, malnutrition, and even cancer. It's not the best feeling having to poop into a jar and then hand it to an unfortunate lab assistant, but it will get you the answers you need!
Keeping An Eye On It
If you don't have any of the extreme symptoms already mentioned, but your poop has been a little different lately, there are some key things you can look out for, which can indicate how healthy or unhealthy you really are. Even if you're feeling great and your poop is the same as ever, you can still learn some interesting things about yourself.
Precious Learning Time
Some of us like to read a good book while we take our time on the toilet. But that's not the kind of learning we mean! Become an amateur biologist and start taking an interest in your poop - it might end up saving your life one day. There are plenty of resources to help you recognize the signs you should be looking out for.
The Bristol Stool Chart
Perhaps the best resource to follow in your quest for healthy poop is the Bristol Stool Chart. By simply glancing at the options, you'll be able to tell straightaway if something isn't right with your waste. In general, you should be aiming for numbers three and four. If it has been any other number for more than a week, you should get it checked out.
Take a look at the two healthy stools in the image and compare them with your own poop. How far off 'healthy' is it? Runny poop could be caused by some light food poisoning, an infection, or parasites. At the more serious end, it could even indicate bowel cancer. If you've been experiencing it for a while it's best to get it checked out as soon as possible.
If your poop looks normal in shape and texture, but you're noticing it contains blood, there are a number of things it could be. Bright red blood usually indicates an anal tear or piles - the latter can be fixed easily with medication. A very dark blood, which gives your poop the look of tar, could indicate bowel cancer.
Is The Texture Right?
If your poop is free of blood, one of the best things to examine is texture. If your poop is hard and comes out looking like small nuggets or nuts, it means you're not getting enough fiber and fluids in your diet. Watery poop is diarrhea and could indicate an infection. If your poop is sticky, it could mean you have too much oil in your diet.
Color Me Surprised
If something is not quite right, poop can be more colorful than you ever imagined. Our waste usually comes out brown, due to the bile produced in the liver, but if there's something wrong inside, it's possible to see green, yellow, black, grey, and red. It's a poop rainbow, but it's definitely not the kind you want to see in your toilet bowl.
It Could Just Mean You Love Veggies
If you notice that your poop is green, there's no need to freak out immediately. Medically, your food might be moving too quickly through your large intestine, which you should ask your doctor about if you've had green poop for a while. A one-off green poop could just mean you ate a lot of greens or something with green food coloring.
All The Colors Of The Rainbow
As with green poop, the other colors all have their special meanings, too. Yellow poop could indicate excess oil and fat, which means your body may not be absorbing it properly. Black poop could indicate internal bleeding, bowel cancer, or high iron levels. In the case of black poop, it's always smart to see a doctor.
You Might Not Be Pooping Right
Anyone who has traveled to developing nations will be able to tell you about the "squatting" toilets used by much of the population. While it may seem primitive at first, this position is much healthier and helps you poop the optimal way. The squat position aligns the spine correctly and ensures that no waste is left inside.
How To Mimic The Squatting Toilet
We can't all just go installing squatting toilets in our homes - what would guests think? Thankfully, there is a solution, which gets you into a squatting position on a regular toilet. Purchase a small stool and place your feet on it when you're sitting on the toilet. With your knees up near your chest you'll be pooping in the best possible way for your body!
Poop And Bowel Cancer
Your poop is the key to discovering serious illnesses, such as bowel cancer. If something weird is going on, see your doctor immediately, as it's curable when caught early. Dark blood in your poop, cramping and abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, weakness, and fatigue, are all symptoms you can look out for. You can also begin eating a healthier diet as a prevention tactic.
Preventing Bowel Cancer
According to Cancer Research UK, more than half the cases of bowel cancer could be prevented with some small lifestyle changes. You can reduce your chances by staying at a healthy weight, eating less red meat, drinking less alcohol, eating more fiber, giving up smoking, and committing to at least half an hour of daily exercise. Sounds worth it to us!
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