What Does Your Poop Mean and What Can It Tell You About Your Health?

What Does Your Poop Mean and What Can It Tell You About Your Health?

Though it may be awkward to discuss, those daily bathroom visits can reveal a whole lot about your health. How often you go and what you produce contain vital information concerning your digestive function. Below, we're taking a deep dive into what your poop really means.

Why It's Important to Monitor Poop Changes

It's important to monitor any changes in your stool. Even the slightest irregularity can carry significant implications concerning your digestive process. Paying attention to the shape, smell, consistency, and size of your poop, can help you identify whether you have trouble absorbing nutrients, how much bile is left in your digestive system, and more.

How to Tell If Your Poop Is "Normal"


When it comes to poop, size matters. Normal poop size should be comfortable and easy to pass. How long a stool you pass depends on different factors, but the diameter should fall anywhere between one to two centimeters. At its widest point, the rectum is 2.5 inches in diameter. Naturally, anything larger than this in diameter can cause straining.


Ideally, your poop should be connected in one long smooth snake-like shape. This shape doesn't require straining and is easy to pass. This shows that your large intestine is doing its job, and it's a sign of healthy digestion.


A sign of healthy poop is a well-formed sample. This shows that you've digested and absorbed the nutrients from your food, and are eliminating toxins and acids. In terms of texture, it should be soft, moist, and a bit firm.


Your poop color also says a lot about your health. A sudden change may signal something serious happening in your gut. By paying close attention to your bowel movements, you'll be able to identify risks early on.

Brown Poop

This is the ideal stool color and a sign that you have a healthy bowel movement. All shades of brown are considered normal poop. If your stool is dark brown, this could be due to consuming foods like licorice, beets, and blueberries. It could also be the result of over-the-counter medicine.

Green Poop

Green poop can occur after ingesting green vegetables or green food coloring. It may also result from certain medications, such as antibiotics. Taking iron supplements can cause a breakdown in pigments, which turns your stool green, as well. Diarrhea could also cause green poop.

Red Poop

Passing red stools could also be a sign that your digestive system is compromised. For example, dark red blood in your stool can mean inflammatory bowel disease or Crohn's disease. In which case, you should see a doctor as soon as you can.

However, red poop doesn't always signal danger. Sometimes red stools may be the result of consuming tomato juice, beets, or cranberries. Red-colored medicine can also change the color of your stool.

On the other hand, bright red stool is a serious cause for concern. It can mean gastrointestinal bleeding, which signals a disorder. For example, inflammatory bowel disease (IBS), may cause bleeding in the digestive tract. It could also be caused by a colon polyp, which colon cancer develops from. You should see a doctor immediately if you notice this particular hue of red in your stool.

Black Poop

There are many reasons why your poop can be black. For example, iron supplements, dark chocolate, and blueberries. Medications like blood thinners can also turn your stool black. Though the most common reason for black stool revolves around ingesting black foods.

But black stools can also be due to digested blood cells. Noticing black stool with blood can be a medical emergency. This means that there's bleeding from a higher gastrointestinal tract like the small bowel or stomach.

Yellow Poop

If you eat foods that are high in food colorings and foods such as turmeric, carrots, or sweet potatoes, your stool color will be yellow. In this case, there's nothing to worry about.

Your poop could also be yellow due to consuming fatty foods, which is a sign that your intestines didn't do a good job of digesting or absorbing fat. This could be caused by chronic pancreatitis or celiac disease, which are diseases of the intestinal lining.

Pale or White Poop

One reason why you may have white or pale poop is due to fatty foods, which lighten your stool. Medication can also turn stools pale or white. Gallstones, which is one the most common gallbladder diseases, can be responsible for pale or white stool color. Another reason involves not having enough bile in your digestive system.

Timing of Bowel Movements

On average, it takes between 2 to 5 days for the food you eat to pass. Of course, this depends on a person's diet, how active they are, and how much stress they are experiencing. As far as diet is concerned, whole grains are some of the best foods for supporting the efficient timing of bowel movements.

There are other things you can do to ensure that things are moving along nicely including getting regular exercise and drinking plenty of water. These behaviors support the digestive process from start to finish.

How Long It Takes You To Poop

If your diet is full of refined carbs, saturated fats, and salt, then pooping can be a time-consuming and difficult affair. Those who follow a healthy diet that's high in fiber can expect their bowel movements to take anywhere from 10 seconds to a minute.

How Often You Poop

Naturally, what goes in must come out, and how regularly you have a bowel movement is an important indication of your health. For example, going too often or not enough both signal dysfunction in your digestive system.

According to medical guidelines, a person should poop at least three times a week. Anything less may indicate chronic constipation. Ideally, you should be able to evacuate between 1 - 3 times a day.


Your poop speaks volumes about your diet, gut health, colon, and overall health. Though essential to our diet, foods high in sulfur including eggs, cruciferous veggies, and meat have a somewhat offensive stench.

Supplements, medications like antibiotics, too much fat, and alcohol can all contribute to smelly poop. There could also be an underlying gut condition, especially if your gut bacteria is out of balance. See a doctor if the smell is particularly odorous or unusually foul.

What is the Bristol Stool Chart?

Developed by researchers at the Bristol Royal Infirmary, the Bristol Stool Chart is a self-diagnostic chart designed to help patients talk about poop without getting personal. The graphic shows patients what healthy poop should look and feel like, along with what indicates an unhealthy bowel movement.

The Bristol stool scale has seven types of stool, which describe their shape, consistency, and ease of passage. They are as follows:

  • Type 1: Separate, hard lumps
  • Type 2: Sausage-shaped but lumpy
  • Type 3: Like a sausage but with cracks on the surface
  • Type 4: Smooth and soft sausage-shaped or snake-like
  • Type 5: Soft blobs with clear-cut edges
  • Type 6: Mushy consistency with ragged edges
  • Type 7: Entirely liquid or watery (no solid pieces)


Your poop is a visual indicator of your digestive health. You can support both the process and outcome by eating the right foods, staying active, and keeping stress to a minimum.

It is also important to keep a good anal hygiene to avoid the accumulation of bacteria and subsequent unwanted smells. The International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders recommends washing rather than wiping when you have anal discomfort.

If you’re at home, you can:

  • Wash in the shower with lukewarm water, especially if you have a handheld showerhead.
  • Soak in a sitz bath of warm water for just a minute or two. Any longer could irritate the skin more.
  • Use a bidet if you have one. Bidet attachments are easy to install and pretty affordable, like the ultra-slim PODDI Clean Wash Bidet.

If you’re dealing with constipation and hemorrhoids or diarrhea, bidets are your best options. If you're on the go, you can wash the area with wet toilet paper instead of wiping or use fragrance-free wet wipes made for sensitive skin.

Some wet wipes contain perfumes and chemicals that can dry out or irritate the skin, so make sure to check the ingredients. You can buy hypoallergenic wipes. If dry toilet paper is your only option, aim to use a gentle patting motion instead of rubbing.




What are the 7 types of poop?

The 7 types of poop according to the Bristol Stool Chart are:

  • Type 1: Separate, hard lumps
  • Type 2: Sausage-shaped but lumpy
  • Type 3: Like a sausage but with cracks on the surface
  • Type 4: Smooth and soft sausage-shaped or snake-like
  • Type 5: Soft blobs with clear-cut edges
  • Type 6: Mushy consistency with ragged edges
  • Type 7: Entirely liquid or watery (no solid pieces)

What does unhealthy poop look like?

Signs of unhealthy poop include a red hue which may indicate blood. Other types of abnormal bowel movements may be very narrow or contain hard lumps.

What color poop is unhealthy?

Unless you're on certain medications or are part of a healthy diet, your poop shouldn't be bright red, black, pale, or white. Brown is considered the healthiest, most "normal" color of stool.

What kind of poop is healthy?

The gold standard for healthy poop is when it's brown, sausage or snake-shaped, and intact when flushed down the toilet.

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