Are Your Pee and Poop Normal?
Taking a close look at your stool can tell you a lot about what's going on in your intestines and can lead you to make the right changes to improve your digestive and overall health. If you know what to look for, it's like reading tea leaves! I tell my patients that if they pay close attention to what's going on in the bowl, they might not need my services.
Here's a guide to some of the most likely – and most lethal – conditions that can lead to changes in the shape, size, smell and shade of your stool.
Insufficient fiber in the diet, diverticulosis, bowel spasm or excessive straining are common causes of a change in stool shape. Diverticulosis causes pothole-like craters in the lining of the colon, as well as a narrowing of the internal diameter of the colon due to wall thickening. The result is narrow, pellet-like stools that often fall apart in the bowl and can be difficult to expel. Other associated symptoms of diverticulosis include a dull ache in the lower abdomen, a feeling of incomplete evacuation even though you may be having multiple bowel movements, and lots of gas and bloating. Endometriosis, uterine fibroids, masses in the abdomen or tumors in other organs, like the ovaries or bladder, can cause thin stools due to external compression of the colon. Colon cancer definitely needs to be excluded by a colonoscopy in anyone experiencing new onset of pencil-thin stools, which can occur as a tumor gets larger and grows inward, reducing the colonic diameter.
Size matters. Small, hard stools are typical in people eating a low-fiber Western diet, and are associated with a higher risk for ultimately developing diverticulosis and colon cancer. Constipation is often associated with small, difficult-to-pass stools, and people suffering from constipation-predominant irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are particularly prone to having small stools. A high-fiber diet or regular use of a bulking agent like psyllium husk will lead to larger, softer stools in most people, making defecation easier. Even though a fiber-deficient diet is the most likely culprit, colon cancer is again on the list as most lethal.
The odor of your stool is highly dependent on a number of factors, including how long it's been sitting in your colon, your diet, medications you may be taking and, in some cases, the presence of infection. Bacterial imbalance (dysbiosis) in the GI tract and undigested fat can also lead to a change in odor.
The most common cause of smelly stool is bacterial fermentation of the food in your intestines that produces foul-smelling sulfide compounds. Antibiotics can also change the smell of stool and give it a medicinal odor. More lethal causes of malodorous stool, and fortunately much less common, include inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis) and pancreatic cancer. Both these conditions can result in floating, foul-smelling stool with an oily sheen.
Diseases that cause malabsorption of nutrients like Crohn's, celiac disease and cystic fibrosis can also lead to foul-smelling stool. Infection with parasites such as giardia lamblia can cause stool to have a very unpleasant odor.
New onset of diarrhea associated with a foul odor should prompt an evaluation for infection, whereas fat in the stool associated with a foul odor should raise concerns about malabsorption or pancreatic disorders. For most people, smelly stool is simply a byproduct of the beans they had for dinner the night before.
The color of stool can vary dramatically and can also be a clue as to whether various disease states are present.
Normal stool is brown due to its composition: bacteria, water, bile, bilirubin, broken-down red blood celIs and indigestible plant matter like cellulose, along with small amounts of protein and fat.
Red stool is most worrisome as it indicates bleeding in the lower GI tract from conditions like hemorrhoids or diverticulosis, or more serious conditions like rectal cancer. Red stool can also be caused by ingesting red food coloring or beets. While it should always be reported, it's not always an ominous sign.
Green stool can occur with rapid transit through the intestines where bile doesn't have a chance to be broken down to its final brown color. Green can also be a sign of Crohn's disease, antibiotic use, ingestion of leafy greens or iron therapy.
Yellow stool can be the result of gallbladder dysfunction which causes improper handling of bile. Infection with giardia lamblia produces a characteristic yellow diarrhea. In addition to causing diarrhea, different types of infection in the GI tract, whether viral, bacterial or parasitic, may cause changes in stool color.
White stool can be a sign of fat malabsorption, as with pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer, but barium used for X-rays can also give the same appearance. Mucus in the stool can give it a whitish appearance and may be due to inflammation or benign conditions like IBS.
Black stool should trigger a search for bleeding from the upper part of the GI tract (esophagus, stomach or small intestine), but can also be seen with iron therapy, heavy meat consumption, and bismuth-containing compounds.
Light-appearing clay-colored stools are characteristic of liver disease and decreased bile output, but can also be caused by antacids containing aluminum hydroxide. Vitamins and supplements commonly cause changes in urine color but may also change stool color.
For Dr. Oz’s Poop Color Chart, click here
What Your Poop Is Telling You About Your Body (Infographic
As the great Taro Gomi once said, "Everyone poops." But what does that mean from a wellness perspective?
Broadly speaking, it means that you should be mindful of what your feces are saying, because they're one of the most consistent indicators of health. As is the case with all things we produce, it's the quality — NOT the quantity — that matters when it comes to our scatological activities.
But how to decode the messages contained in your excrement? To clear all that up, here's an infographic from The Daily Infographic that explains the various signals your feces and urine send you. Tell us what you think!
23 High Fiber Foods
ApplesAs the saying goes, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Eating an apple each day will provide many health benefits, including contributing to your fiber intake. A medium-sized apple contains about 17% of the daily recommended value, with less than a hundred calories. In addition, an apple’s high water content helps the fiber do its job of keeping you regular. It’s best not to peel an apple before eating it, since most of the fiber is in the skin.
Serving Size (1 medium apple), 4.4 grams of fiber (17% DV), 95 calories.
WalnutsMost people equate grains, fruits, and vegetables with a high-fiber diet, but walnuts are a fiber-rich food that often gets overlooked. Just a handful of walnuts, or 1/4 cup, contains about 2 grams of fiber. Crack your own walnuts with a nut cracker, or pick a bag up from the grocery store for a great snack on the go. Walnuts also make a tasty and healthy addition to salads and desserts.
Serving Size (1/4 cup), 2 grams of fiber (8% DV), 190 calories.
Sweet Corn (Yellow)Sweet corn is a staple at summer barbecues, and it should also be a staple in a high fiber diet. A 6-inch ear of corn on the cob provides the body with about 1.5 grams of fiber. If you like convenience, a 12 oz. can of corn has over twice that amount. Eat corn the old-fashioned way—as a side dish—or add it to soups, salads, and chili to enjoy it more often.
Serving Size (12 oz.), 4 grams of fiber (16% DV), 171 calories.
OatmealEnjoy a serving of oatmeal for breakfast every day and you’ll be doing your body a huge favor. Because of its high soluble fiber content, oatmeal is one of the best foods for lowering cholesterol. It’s also a great way to kick-start your system in the morning, helping your body stay regular throughout the day. Though you can enjoy oatmeal on its own, many people add their favorite berries into the mix in order to sweeten it up and add even more fiber to their morning meal.
Serving Size (1 cup), 4 grams of fiber (16% DV), 166 calories.
LentilsMost people know that beans such as lentils are an essential part of a high fiber diet that keeps the body regular. But did you know that lentils are also high in protein, folate, vitamins, and iron? It’s easy to add lentils into your diet by cooking them with rice, adding them to soups and sauces, or seasoning them with herbs and spices for a tasty side dish. Add just a cup of lentils to your diet each day for a whopping 63% of your recommended daily fiber.
Serving Size (1 cup, cooked),15.6 grams of fiber (63% DV), 230 calories.
ArtichokesDon’t let this exotic vegetable intimidate you. Artichokes are easy to prepare, and their unique flavor and high fiber content make them even more enjoyable. A medium artichoke provides almost half the daily recommended amount of fiber, along with other nutrients and minerals. Artichokes also have a higher water content than traditional sources of fiber such as breads and pasta, so they’re a great addition to a balanced high fiber diet.
Serving Size (1 medium artichoke),10.3 grams of fiber (41% DV), 64 calories.
BroccoliBroccoli is a tasty green veggie that is high in fiber and other nutrients. One cup of chopped raw broccoli provides just over two grams of fiber. Steamed or cooked broccoli has slightly less, but it makes an easy and tasty side dish to pair with chicken, fish, or beef entrees. Raw broccoli makes a great midday snack, either by itself or over a salad, so enjoy it often as part of a healthy, fiber rich diet.
Serving Size (1 cup, raw),2.3 grams of fiber (9% DV), 25 calories.
Shredded Wheat CerealShredded Wheat Cereal and others like it are a great way to start a healthy day if you’re trying to get enough fiber in your diet. Shredded Wheat will give you an early energy boost and keep you feeling full well into the morning. And with a one-cup serving providing you with up to 36% of your fiber for the day, plus the health benefits of the milk you consume with it, you’d be hard-pressed to find a healthier way to start your day.
Serving Size (1 cup), 9 grams of fiber (36% DV), 200 calories.
Brussels SproutsBrussels sprouts are packed as full of fiber as they are with flavor. Many people who haven’t tried Brussels sprouts since childhood might need to get used to the taste, but fortunately, there are plenty of ways to prepare these cruciferous treats so they can appeal to any palate. A cup of cooked Brussels sprouts provides about a quarter of your recommended fiber for the day, so adding a few servings to your diet each week makes a big difference.
Serving Size (1 cup, cooked), 6.4 grams of fiber (25% DV), 65 calories.
BulgurA staple in the Mediterranean diet, bulgur is a good source of both protein and fiber. Try adding a little cinnamon and honey to cooked bulgur instead of eating sugary cereals or pastries for breakfast. It also makes a subtly flavorful addition to salads, soups, and rice dishes. The fiber in bulgur (over eight grams in a one-cup serving) helps to maintain the health of your colon by keeping you regular.
Serving Size (1 cup, cooked), 8.2 grams of fiber (33% DV), 151 calories.
Brown RiceBrown rice is highly rich in insoluble fiber, making it an excellent food to add to a healthy, fiber rich diet. The insoluble fiber in rice helps relieve constipation and helps keep you regular. Add a serving to your diet once a day or a few times a week to keep your body functioning in tip-top shape. Each one-cup serving contains about 3.5 grams of fiber, or about 14% of the recommended daily value. Brown rice provides many health benefits, and it’s easy on your wallet, too.
Serving Size (1 cup, cooked), 3.5 grams of fiber (14% DV), 218 calories.
Navy BeansIf you’re wondering how to get more fiber in order to keep your system regular, navy beans are arguably the best thing you can add to your pantry and your diet. A one-cup serving of cooked mature navy beans contains 19.1 grams of fiber. That’s over three-quarters of the recommended daily value. It’s easy to consume one cup a day if you add beans to rice, soups, and dips, or season them with olive oil and spices for a flavorful and virtually fat-free side dish.
Serving Size (1 cup, cooked), 19.1 grams of fiber (76% DV), 255 calories.
Garbanzo BeansLike most legumes, garbanzo beans are known for their high fiber content. In addition to leaving you feeling you full for longer, a half-cup serving of garbanzo beans stocks your body with about 3 grams of fiber, or around 12% the recommended value. Many people enjoy eating beans daily, but several servings a week (as part of a healthy, fiber rich diet) can help keep you regular and will contribute to the health of your colon and digestive system.
Serving Size (1/2 cup cooked), 3 grams of fiber (12% DV), 110 calories.
Whole Wheat SpaghettiIf you love to eat white pasta, consider switching to whole wheat pasta for its numerous health benefits. White pasta is processed, which means it contains simple sugars and none of its natural fibers. Whole wheat pasta, on the other hand, is unprocessed and is a viable source of fiber. A cup of cooked whole wheat spaghetti for dinner may help you reach your fiber quota for the day; it brings over 6 grams to the table.
Serving Size (1 cup cooked), 6.3 grams of fiber (25% DV), 174 calories.
FigsFigs aren’t always the first things that come to mind when someone mentions fruit. But if you get to know figs a little better, you’ll find that they’re not only tasty, but they’re rich in fiber, too. Eating dried figs in moderation can prevent constipation and keep you regular. Dried figs make a great, quick snack when you’re on the go, and you can incorporate them into cookies and cakes for a sweet treat with a healthy side.
Serving Size (1 large), 1.9 grams of fiber (7% DV), 47 calories.
PrunesPrunes contain about 3.6 grams of dietary fiber per serving—about 14% of the recommended amount for the day. Adding prunes—and therefore fiber—to your diet can help relieve constipation and the uncomfortable symptoms that come with it, such as bloating, cramps, and loss of appetite. Because these fruits are so filled with fiber, it’s a good idea to drink some water with each serving. Plenty of water is essential in helping dietary fiber do its job.
Serving Size (6 dried), 3.6 grams of fiber (14% DV), 47 calories.
Asian PearsAsian pears, also called apple pears, are full of nutrients. In the fiber department, Asian pears provide soluble and insoluble fiber, both of which your body needs. Many people eat these fruits in salads, with cheeses and spreads, or sliced like an apple. However you choose to enjoy them, your body will benefit from over 4 grams of fiber, or about 18% of the recommended amount for the day.
Serving Size (1 Asian pear), 4.4 grams of fiber (18% DV), 51 calories.
AlmondsAlmonds are an obvious choice for a high fiber diet that will help keep you regular. They make a delicious snack that’s as easy as it is healthy. And with many other health benefits, you’ll find that consistently adding a serving of almonds to your day leaves your body looking and feeling better all around. In addition to providing 3.5 grams of fiber, a one-ounce serving of almonds helps promote weight loss, heart health, and bone strength.
Serving Size (1 ounce), 3.5 grams of fiber (14% DV), 163 calories.
Whole Wheat BreadBread is an important part of a balanced diet, and whole wheat bread, in particular, is high in fiber. When consuming toast, a sandwich, or another snack or meal that includes whole wheat bread, be sure to drink plenty of liquids (preferably water) along with it. Lots of water is essential in a fiber rich diet, as it helps the fiber do its job in cleansing the colon and keeping you regular.
Serving Size (1 slice),1.9 grams of fiber (8% DV), 69 calories.
SpinachSpinach is one of those super foods with seemingly countless health benefits. Raw spinach leaves are loaded with calcium, iron, vitamin C, antioxidants and more. It also contains fiber, which means it’s a natural cleanser for the colon, and it works to keep you regular. It’s easy to consume lots of spinach, as it’s one of the most versatile foods imaginable. Dress it up in a salad or add it to sandwiches, soups, pasta, sauce, and much more.
Serving Size (1 cup raw), 0.7 grams of fiber (3% DV), 7 calories.
Beet GreensIf you’ve ever eaten beets, did you know that you can also eat the leaves at the top of the beet? Beet greens are loaded with vitamins C and A, folate, and fiber. They’re also packed with a rich, unique flavor, and pairing them with savory spices such as garlic, onions, pepper, or olive oil can help make them a tasty complement to many entrees. Toss them in a green salad with other vegetables for a fiber rich meal you’ll love.
Serving Size (1 cup raw), 1.4 grams of fiber (6% DV), 8 calories.
CarrotsEating carrots regularly can reduce cholesterol, regulate blood sugar, and improve eye health. Also, because of the rich supply of fiber, carrots can help prevent digestive disorders and gastric ulcers. Fiber is an essential part of a healthy diet, and eating just one medium-sized carrot accounts for about 7% of the recommended value for the day.
Serving Size (1 medium carrot), 1.7 grams of fiber (7% DV), 25 calories.
RaspberriesRaspberries are a wonderfully nutritious food that is both low in calories and high in vital nutrients, especially fiber. Enjoy these sweet berries in moderation as part of a high fiber diet; a one-cup serving provides for about 32% of your daily recommended fiber needs. To get your one-cup serving each day, enjoy a handful of raspberries with your oatmeal or yogurt at breakfast, over a salad at lunch, and as a sweet treat after dinner.
Serving Size (1 cup), 8 grams of fiber (32% DV), 64 calories.
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P.S. Take a look at the 5 veggies that boost female metabolism and burn off lower belly fat.