From constipation to blood or mucus in poop, your bowel habits can indicate a lot about your gut health. Although often embarrassing, poop is an essential topic to talk about when it comes to identify potential underlying health issues in the gut.
Here are four signs you must look out for in your poop to determine whether you should see a doctor regarding your gut health:
Loose Or Watery Poop
Loose poop or diarrhoea may be caused by a gut infection, food intolerances, certain medications, an overactive thyroid, or a disease of the intestine like Crohn’s disease. Certain foods can be culprits too, like alcohol, caffeine and spicy or oily foods.
Stress and anxiety are also known to cause diarrhoea as well as irritable bowel syndrome which affects around 10-15% of people worldwide. To treat loose poo it’s important to stay hydrated, eat plenty of fibre and cut out foods which you’ve identified as irritants.
Blood in poop
Bright red blood in your poop may at first seem concerning but it’s actually way more common than you think. It can be caused by anal fissures (small tear in the lining of your bottom), haemorrhoids also known as piles (lumps inside and around your bottom), IBD or diverticulitis (a digestive condition that affects the large intestine). Additionally, it can be experienced by women who are on their period.
However, it can also be an early sign of bowel cancer so if this is something you have been noticing, then it’s important to contact your GP immediately.
Mucus In Poop
Mucus is a thick, jelly-like substance. Your body uses it to protect and lubricate your delicate tissues and organs. However, if you have noticed more mucus in you stool it can be a sign of an infection or underlying disorder like Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis, which are both forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). A tear or open sore near the anus, ulcers, IBS and food allergies may also increase mucus production.
Hard poop often indicates constipation. You’re also likely to be constipated if you haven’t had a poop at least 3 times in the past week and you’re in pain or straining when you go to the toilet. Other symptoms include feeling bloated, sick of having a persistent stomach ache.
Drinking plenty of water and eating foods rich in fibre are important when it comes to overcoming symptoms of constipation as well as gentle exercise.
So what does healthy poop look like?
A poop that’s brown in colour, well-formed and easy to pass is considered healthy by medical professionals. It should be sausage shaped, have cracks on the surface and should not cause any pain or discomfort.
How To Support A Healthy Poop
1. Eat plenty of fiber – Fibrous foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains are great for your health. They help keep your digestive system running smoothly and make it easier to poop.
2. Drink plenty of water – Staying hydrated is essential for good health and also helps to keep things moving in the right direction! Make sure you’re drinking at least 8 glasses of water a day.
3. Exercise regularly – Regular exercise helps to keep your digestive system in good health, and it also gives you more energy throughout the day.
4. Define what is the norm - Everyone’s health needs are different, so it’s important to take some time to figure out what’s normal for you. Pay attention to the color, consistency and frequency of your poops, and talk to your doctor if anything changes significantly.
5. Avoid processed foods – Processed foods may taste great but they’re usually low in fiber and high in fat. Try to limit the amount of processed foods you eat and opt for natural, whole foods instead.
6. Listen to your body – Your body is an amazing machine that knows what it needs. If something doesn’t feel right or if you experience any pain when pooping, don’t ignore it. Talk to your doctor and get help if you need it.
7. Reduce stress – Stress can have a negative effect on your health, including your digestive system. Try to take some time out of your day to relax and reduce stress levels.
8. Visit the doctor regularly – If you’re worried about the health of your poop or having any other health concerns, it’s important to visit your doctor regularly. They can help diagnose health issues and prescribe the right treatments.
The bottom line is that many people miss out on the vital symptoms of poor gut health being shown in their poop, maybe because they’re too embarrassed to talk about it or because they simply don’t know what they should be looking for.
Still unsure what you are looking for? We've got you covered with our breakdown of what your poop says you!
Make sure you’re paying attention to your poop so that you know whether or not something could be going on.
Remember, if you have had any of these symptoms persist then it’s important to take it up with your GP who can suggest the best course of action.