Though it’s a nagging question in the back of many of our minds, it’s not exactly polite dinner conversation. Yet still, we want to know the answer to a very common question: is my poop normal? While you may not feel exactly comfortable discussing your bathroom habits with friends, you are on the right track thought-wise since poop can tell you a lot about your overall health.
When you eat, food travels through the digestive system and your body will extract what it needs for fuel and to maintain good health. What isn’t needed is expelled during bowel movements. Simply put, pooping is your body’s natural way of getting rid of the toxins and waste once all the nutrients it needs have been absorbed from food. When something is off-kilter in the body, it affects the digestive process and shows up in your poop.
What Is “Normal” Poop?
Don’t worry, you won’t have to become the “poop whisperer” to get a basic understanding of healthy poops. Let’s start with frequency. This varies from person to person but most medical experts agree you should be going at least three or more times a week at the minimum. If you’re going once or twice a day, good for you! The key, however, is making sure you are consistent on a day-to-day basis. This is how to determine what is normal from a personal perspective.
When you’re eating enough fiber and drinking enough water, your poop should ideally be connected in one smooth shape and medium to dark brown in color. If your poop is smooth but broken into a few smaller poops or is thin, this normally is okay as well as long as there is no discomfort.
Yes, poop should smell. The unpleasant smell we often joke about is simply toxins being drawn out of the body working in conjunction with bacteria in the gut lining. If there is suddenly a very foul odor for more than a few days, you may want to consult your doctor to be sure there isn’t a problem.
The main way to ensure you are having healthy poops is by incorporating and sticking to healthy eating and fitness habits. Eat as many fresh fruits and vegetables as possible and stay away from processed foods. Sneak in fitness when you can by taking a walk after lunch or dinner, parking farther away from the entrance, and taking the stairs when possible. Even small things add up and make a difference. You will benefit by having healthy and productive bowel movements.
Partha Nandi is a passionate advocate of a healthy lifestyle. The internationally syndicated medical lifestyle television show, Ask Dr. Nandi, was born of this passion. Dr. Nandi says:
- Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables for overall health.
- Eat enough fiber and drink plenty of water for comfortable, healthy poops.
- “Normal” or healthy poops are usually smooth and medium to dark brown in color.
- Smelly poop is normal.
- Consult your doctor if changes in poop habits persist for more than a few days.