I know, outside of young kids, toilet bowl talk isn’t considered appropriate. But, your feces tells alot about your digestive system and ultimately your health. So, let’s cover some of the things to look for. Check with your practitioner to ensure your nutrients are getting absorbed and not “wasted”.
Undigested food in stool: Usually caused by not chewing your food well. This can also be caused by consuming a large amount of insoluble fiber (oat bran, corn on the cob). It can be associated with pancreatic insufficiency needing digestive enzymes, so check with your practitioner if chewer better doesn’t resolve the issue.
Greasy or shiny stool: Usually indicates hepato-biliary dysfunction. In short, decreased output of bile from the gallbladder causes fat to remain undigested in the small intestine. Also could indicate high consumption of hydrogenated fatty acids or difficult to digest fats.
Light or clay colored stool: Usually indicates biliary insufficiency, which is an inability of the liver cells to produce adequate amounts of bile. Have your practitioner check the need for bile salts to help with the emulsification of fats.
Constipation: Usually from lack of dietary fiber and inadequate hydration. There can be other causes but these are good first steps. Constipation is a subjective symptom but can include stools that are too hard, too small, too infrequent, difficult to expel, a feeling of incomplete evacuation, fewer than 3-5 stools per week, or more than 3 days without a stool.
Diarrhea shortly after meals: Usually an indication of a food intolerance. The body will attempt to remove an irritating food by causing diarrhea.
Black or tarry stool: Unless you are consuming iron, charcoal or bismuth (found in Pepto-Bismol and other nutritional supplements), this is usually a result of bleeding in the upper GI tract. This is a serious sign and needs immediate investigation by a physician.
Floating stool: Usually indicates decreased bile from the gallbladder with lack of fat emulsification. Can also be caused by excess gas from over-consumption.
Stools with corners, edges, flat or ribbon shaped: Usually suggests the possibilty of a serious condition and should be evaluated by a practitioner specializing in colon abnormalities.
Bumpy stool: Usually from the slowing of the transit time allowing digestive debris from several meals to connect.
Small, hard, disjointed stool: Usually a lack of dietary fiber, a need to replenish the gut flora, or lack of hydration.
This certainly isn’t an entire list of all types of feces. And, it’s not to be considered in place of seeing an appropriate practitioner with your questions or concerns. But, stools are a great indicator of health and shouldn’t be relegated by the societal norms telling us not to look or talk about it. So, take a look next time, you’ll have a much better understanding of the inner workings of your digestive system.