What Does Your Poop Tell You About Your Health?

Keeping track of how your poop looks can be an effective way to monitor your digestive health. In the medical world, there is a lot of information available about how stool should look in someone with a healthy digestive tract, and about what common indicators of illness are.

Appearance is very important, but others things that can be monitored are consistency, shape, smell, frequency, size, color, et cetera. You should pay attention to sudden changes in your poop, as that often indicates that something is off in your gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Your poop can indicate simple things like whether or not you are getting enough fiber in your diet, and can also show signs of: bacterial imbalance in your gut, hemorrhoids, ulcers, parasites, cystic fibrosis, endometriosis, Celiac Disease, Crohn’s Disease, tumors, and cancer (especially colon cancer).

Stool is supposed to be brown, smooth, and easily passed. Both longer pieces and many smaller pieces are considered healthy, but they should not be very thick. If your stool is usually hard, thick, difficult to pass, watery, or extremely soft, then your digestive tract probably isn’t in optimal health.

7 Major Types Of Stool

Luckily for the general population, the Bristol Stool Form Scale exists. It lists the 7 main types of stool, shows which are normal and which are not, and identifies potential causes of the abnormal ones; it even comes with pictures. This scale was created by Bristol Royal Infirmary research scientists, and is available online.


Here are the 7 stool types:

1. Type 1 is very hard stool that is difficult or painful to pass and is broken up into many small pieces. The most likely cause of this type is a bacterial imbalance called acute disbacteriosis. This occurs when many of the normal bacteria in the gut are missing; these are the bacteria that retain water and give poop its regular consistency and softness. When these bacteria are missing, poop is hard and difficult to pass.

2. Type 2 is lumpy and hard as well, but is one long piece. It is difficult to pass and can cause straining, which may lead to tearing and other issues. This occurs because the stool spends too long in the digestive tract, and is backed up. Because it is so large and hard, ripping of the small intestine wall is possible.

3. Type 3 is also one long piece, but it has cracks in it as opposed to lumps. This type, in addition to the last two, is due to constipation and potentially bacterial imbalance. This isn’t quite as dangerous as type 2, but can still lead to tearing of the digestive tract.

4. Type 4 is long, soft, and smooth. It isn’t too thick, and passes easily and without any straining. This type is considered healthy.

5. Type 5 is also soft and easy to pass, but is multiple small pieces rather than one long piece. This type is also considered healthy. Types 4 and 5 are the only ones that are considered healthy and ideal.

6. Type 6 is multiple pieces, but is mushy and/or watery. This type is not dangerous and is almost healthy, but not quite. This can occur due to stress, dehydration, or just a fast acting colon that produces stool more often than normal.

7. Type 7 is diarrhea, where there are no solid pieces, just watery stool. Oddly enough, this kind of stool can go along with constipation, because extra water accumulates underneath the backed up stool and must be passed on its own.


Loose Stool

Let’s elaborate some more on loose stools, which are types 6 and 7 above. Diarrhea can happen due to stress or something else that is short-term, but regular or frequent loose stools can be problematic. For starters, frequent diarrhea is dehydrating, and means that your GI tract is not properly absorbing the nutrients in your food. When food isn’t digested properly and nutrients aren’t fully absorbed, bacterial imbalance becomes more likely. Stomachaches and Irritable Bowel Syndrome often occur over time if you let diarrhea or constipation go on for long. As with many of the unhealthy stool types, bacterial imbalance is often the cause. While this may mean an overabundance of the bad bacteria, it often means that there aren’t enough good bacteria.

Another common cause is intolerance; two of the most common are dairy and gluten intolerance. 70-90% of people are lactose intolerant, meaning that consuming dairy products causes intestinal distress. Gluten intolerance is when eating wheat and other grain products causes intestinal distress; this isn’t as common, but is also a potential cause of frequent loose stools.

Fortunately, both of this issues can be easily resolved, with a few simple steps:

>> 3 Simple Steps for Healthy Gut & Digestive System

Stool Color

Stool is ¾ water, and the rest is bacteria, mucus, fiber, and other cells. Normal stool is brown because of what it consists of, but quite a few colors are also possible. Anything other than brown means that there’s something going on, but it does not necessarily mean that there is a problem. Having green stool once doesn’t mean your GI tract is messed up, but having any of these colors regularly is not a good sign. In particular, look out for black and tarry stool, as this almost always means that there is internal bleeding going on.

• Brown is the normal, healthy color.
• Green usually means that the stool travelling through the digestive system too quickly. Green is the color of the bile that is present.
• Yellow means that food is not being broken down properly. This is most common when fat is passing through undigested. Yellow can also indicate infections like giardia.
• Black can mean that there is internal bleeding somewhere higher up in the digestive tract, and means that there is an issue that needs to be addressed ASAP. Black stool can occur if you’re taking certain vitamin supplements as well.
• Red on the outside of the stool means that there is bleeding lower in the digestive tract, usually the rectum.
• Gray or white stool is usually a sign of a serious problem during digestion. It is possible that medications like antacids can cause this, but it is something to be cautious about.

Constipation Versus Diarrhea

If you poop between three times a day to three times a week, then that is considered normal and is probably healthy for you. The time it takes from food to pass through the digestive tract and become food is 2-3 days in a healthy person. If it takes less time than this, that can lead to diarrhea, and more time can lead to constipation. This is because the intestine must absorb a certain amount of water for the stool to be smooth and soft. If it has less time, then it cannot absorb enough water, and the result is watery stool. If the stool is in the intestine for too long, then too much water is absorbed, resulting in hardened stool. There are hundreds of ways you can improve the consistency and frequency of your bowel movements, and almost all of them revolve around your diet. Here are some of the most important tips:

• Eat plenty of natural foods, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.
• Cut down on sugar, and eliminate artificial sweeteners.
• Stay hydrated every day.
• Get plenty of sleep and exercise.

The above are great tips for everyone. Below are tips that will help certain people, but vary based on the person. If you’re unsure of why you have frequent diarrhea or constipation, it’s a good idea to try each of these.

• Eat more fiber, even if it is in supplement form.
• Get more probiotics, which are also available in supplement form.
• Eliminate dairy products from your diet.
• Eliminate gluten products from your diet.
• Stop taking non-vital medications whenever possible.

Other Signs Of Unhealthy Poop

Here is a list of some miscellaneous traits of poop that isn’t healthy. These are things to look out for when monitoring your stool for signs of illness.

• Colors other than brown
• Very hard
• Mushy
• Too thick
• Really thin
• Rough texture
• Difficult to pass
• Painful to pass
• Floating stool
• Excess mucus
• Extreme odor

Your poop can tell you a lot about your health. In summary, stool should be passed between three times a day and three times a week, and it should be brown, soft, smooth, and easy to pass. If you regularly experience discomfort or pain, then something is probably off. Sudden changes in stool traits should be paid close attention to, as they can indicate serious issues. Fiber and probiotics are two fantastic tools when it comes to improving your GI health, so use them to your advantage.

Occasional episodes of diarrhea or constipation may just be due to something you ate or even to stress, but regular episodes mean that you are not in optimal digestive health. It’s best to talk to a professional about what you should do if you have severe constipation, as suddenly increasing your fiber intake can sometimes make the problem worse.

The vast majority of digestive issues are caused by diet, so it is extremely important that you eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds on a daily basis. If you ignore your digestive issues, serious problems can occur later on.

If you are constantly having unhealthy stool, you might want to take good care of your gut and digestive system. Go to the next page and watch the 3 tips for better gut and digestive presentation.






About the Author:

Emma Deangela is the best selling author of The Alkaline Diet Program and 80/20 Fat Loss. She has helped over tens of thousands of men and women to lose weight and transform their health with sound nutrition advice.

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56 responses to “What Does Your Poop Tell You About Your Health?”

  1. Rosemarie nieves Avatar

    Thank you, this is really great information, in general people don’t know what goes on with there poop,why they can’t go to the rest room.this helps to know thanks.

  2. carlene moore Avatar
    carlene moore

    Thank Yoy Emma. I am sending this on to a ffamiy member who is having problems with anything he eats. Again Thank You.

  3. Kellie Codianna Avatar

    Hi, I am an Ayurveda Wellness Counselor. We also look at digestion. The thing that differs in my education is that A FLOATING POOP is a healthy thing.
    Can you clarify this and let me know if it is clearly unhealthy?
    Thanks Kellie Codianna

    1. Peter Berge Avatar

      I am 62 years old. I have heard that floating poop is not the kind of poop you want to constantly have. You Kellie say its a healthy thing. I once had floaters and it is not okay with me. I am not a Doctor; but I will stick to a healthy soft medium banana that I do not question. If YOU WANT FLOATING POOP; HAVE IT. I sustain.

    2. dean dewitt Avatar
      dean dewitt

      RN agreed on floating; indicative of fiber, I’ve understood. Floating shows sufficient fiber, and a good thing.

  4. Carol Kloes Avatar
    Carol Kloes

    It mentioned poop floating, but I couldn’t find a reason. Can you elaborate? Lots of good info. Thanks

  5. elizabeth Avatar

    why shouldn’t poop float?

    1. maribeth Avatar

      maybe because of the bouyant force,that’s why it’ll float.

    2. Dr. Flora Mason Van Orden Avatar
      Dr. Flora Mason Van Orden

      Poop sometimes floats because it has a lot of (too much) fat in it . Just like a salad dressing bottle, the fat rises to the top.

      1. marilyn Avatar

        So if your stool floats because of the fattening in it, then does that make it a healthy thing since the fattening is getting out of your system?

    3. Diana Hall Avatar
      Diana Hall

      to my understanding if your poop floats then you are getting too much fat in your diet…

      1. Mary Avatar

        Well, my poop has almost always floated and until recently I was able to eat fat, all kinds. So, with or without fat my poop floats.

  6. kissy lapham Avatar
    kissy lapham

    this info is so helpful to my husband who struggles with chrohn’s and myself with divertics. this info answered alot of my questions. thank you so much

    1. Ava Avatar

      I was told the opposite …we r eating too much fat if poops sink.

  7. Regena cash Avatar

    This is interesting as I am a retired nurse we always had to chart the character of patients evacuations regarding urine and bowel movements. Now some of this slightly changes for a while after some patients have had gastric bypass surgery but it is still majorly important for the patient to learn a lot of these signs about their own bodies. This is something that is rarely talked about until it’s the situation has made them I’ll or even life threatening. Had a person known about some of these signs they may have gone to their doctor to at least discuss this.

  8. Roxanne Avatar

    Hi, thanks for this information. I was always lead to believe that a healthy bowel movement is at least once a day . In fact, most holistic health professionals has said , every meal should be eliminated that same day . Three times a week doesn’t seem healthy to me . Three times a day does. Thank you for your thoughts though.

    1. Diana Hall Avatar
      Diana Hall

      I agree…and fortunately for me…my system is just like and infants…you put food in at feeding time and after…poop comes out! hope everyone is as fortunate.

      i go minimum…twice per day…often more…good luck to all!

  9. lorraine josiah Avatar
    lorraine josiah

    Thanks for this wonderful information you’ve shared.

  10. Julia Avatar

    Agreed. I had the same reaction when I read 3 x per week. Is that a typo? If we are truly healthy, we should be eliminating 2-3 x per day… depending on how many meals have been ingested. Not 3 x per week.

    1. Anne Avatar

      I also agree 3 times a week seems unhealthy 3 times a day seems to often. I go regualy once a day first thing.

  11. maureen Avatar

    good information.

  12. Jan Avatar

    Very informative, will share…..this will help many know when to seek help eariler. My husband contracted c-diff off a buggy and I almost lost him… This is important information…thank you

  13. Lila Findley Avatar
    Lila Findley

    I have uncontrolled diarrhea no abdominal pain no warning usually less than an hour after eating. When my bowel is empty it’s over then I’ll have normal stool for while til it happens again

  14. Lyneer Avatar

    Thanking you for the poop info…when I was younger my family used to tease me about how many times I go…but it works for me!…I go 3 to 5 times a day…anything less than that causes me to have a bad attitude.

  15. katherine barratt Avatar
    katherine barratt

    How do probiotics affect the stool? Can you tell by this if you do or do not have a healthy gut?

  16. Donna Eszlinger Avatar
    Donna Eszlinger

    thank you for this info, have always been told that probiotics help regulate the gut,, and after being on antibiotics for several months for infection,, I found that to be a huge help in getting back on track with my issues.and with going to the bathroom,,

  17. Nina Avatar

    Today I have had loose weird stools. They have a lot of brown slimy mucus looking stuff along with some floating blobs. I know this sounds really gross, but if the blobs are poked – NOT WITH MY FINGER! – they break apart and are all slimy and mucus-y too. They smell really badly too. Do you know what could cause this? Parasites? I started taking Aldactone, but of course it mentions all the possible (generic) side effects that all prescription meds list. I’m going to give it one more day and see what happens.

  18. Vivian sampson Avatar
    Vivian sampson

    I have been eating foods that I thought were health, but after listening to you, I found that most of the foods were acidic. Since I’ve been very conscious about my health for years, I can’t believe that I am as healthy as I am. I want the book, so I can correct the things that I have been doing wrong. Please send me the book. Thank you.

  19. sue Avatar

    Thank you for all your info about poop, I am going to show this to my daughter

  20. Arthur Nowak Avatar
    Arthur Nowak

    Constipation problems, had my feeding tube taken out 4 months ago, sure would like to read more on this
    Thanks Art

  21. Dawn Miller Avatar
    Dawn Miller

    Goes this mean I have to stop drinking milk, This is the only dairy product that I consume . Some times I may drink 3 4 glasses of milk then some times go with out milk for a few days. And I now just drink 2%

  22. Helen F Avatar
    Helen F

    You mentioned if poop is green it means you might have bile in your system. However, I take several vitamins every day plus am on Methotrexate twice a week for my RA symptoms. Many days my poop is green but I also eat lots of fresh, leafy vegtables as well as fruit and a couple glasses wine with my dinner at night. Couldn’t all that make your poop green too? My bowl movements seem ok or normal otherwise, and sometimes have to go 3 or 4 times, usually after eating a meal.

  23. Vincent Avatar

    My poop looks like a ruler like 5 inches long you say yes about that thick as a wood ruler

  24. al cha Avatar
    al cha

    why is it in the morning when i drink my coffee in few minutes i rush in the toilet?

  25. Peter Berge Avatar

    I love your column. I read some very different comments that I find unususal. My buddy poops 4 times a day and so do people I just read. I get up in the morning; have my Probiotic. One hour later I go to potty and that is all. Once a day; with a healthy looking poop has been like that since a kid. No probiotics in the 50’s but I loved raisins and still do. We are all different; Nice to have Emma in my life. Peter

  26. Carol Anderson Avatar
    Carol Anderson

    You neglected to mention that some vegetables such as spinach and beets can color poop. Beets can also color urine for a day or two depending on how much you ate. As a mother of two children I learned at an early age the influence of vegetables on the color of poop.

  27. Pam Bodger Avatar
    Pam Bodger

    I have been having like No 5 and 6 bowel movements now since May 2015. Have had stools checked with no trace of blood or parasites. I am getting to the stage I am scared to eat, especially at night. It is quite incredible. As soon as I eat, within 5 minutes I get stomach gripes and have to run to loo for very loose stools. Is this serious or should I just accept that it is probably IBS that I was diagnosed with many years ago. Wondering about a colonoscopy but not keen. About 6 x a day.

    1. jim hicks Avatar
      jim hicks

      hello Pam Bodger, my friend, woman 68, has less loose stools now that she takes a tablespoon or two a day of
      ‘KEFIR’ I have read contents [ 1 litre bottle ]. kefir seems to have a billion million dozen different active bacteria, compared to dead bacteria in some sweetened yogurts.
      be well – love all – jim

  28. Linda S M Avatar
    Linda S M

    I’m a 64 y/o Registered Nurse that, as per a prior comment, have always had to be concerned with others poop. What is right for one person is not for all, but in general, Emma is spot on in correctness. I also have noted, from my own personal dietary habits, when more dietary fat is consumed than what your body will absorb, it is passed as a floater. And on the same note, the body will still absorb enough fat to make one gain weight. If you have “floaters” and do not have a weight gain issue, it is very unusual.

  29. Malcolm Avatar

    I kick start my day with six Weetbix with New Zealand trim milk to get the bowels moving.
    Regarding my diet and eat quite healthy and also make sure my power of hydrogen levels are slightly more alkaline too.

  30. Stan Sharpe Avatar
    Stan Sharpe

    I have learned to observe the many shades of brown to determine my health. The darker shades show you are acidic the lighter shades show alkalinity. The proper color is medium brown. Light foods are alkaline like rice, potatoes, and chicken. The acid foods are dark like spinach, beets and red meat. Keep a balance.

  31. Sam Avatar

    Good info …THANK You..

  32. Kris Avatar

    My chiropractor told me about this web site so far i have been very impressed i did get some greens after i read about the 5 foods since i have taken the green my fingers,face,stomach lost all puffiness with in three days i am impressed!!!!!

    1. Rose Frank Avatar
      Rose Frank

      What greens? veggie in a powered form? What did your chiro say??
      Thank you,

  33. Saraswathi Kanneganti Avatar
    Saraswathi Kanneganti

    I have a chronic problem of loose motions. Please suggest a permanent remedy.

  34. Edith smith Avatar
    Edith smith

    I wanted to order your ProbipShield after listening to the video but I don’t have a paypal account so I don’t know how to do that’s. V

  35. NADIA Avatar


  36. LMC Avatar

    Fermented veggies are a great way to increase good bacteria in the gut. Really helping in digestion. You can make your own or buy them. They have more probiotics than any supplement .just google how to make homemade fermented veggies like sauerkraut. But it must be fermented and raw to be beneficial .

  37. Denise Avatar

    Very interesting reading I learned so much. Thanks for all that information.

  38. Sieman Avatar

    For those who have to go to bathroom as soon as they eat… it is most likely due to infection bacterial infection. Had that in college. After 25 yrs, I don’t have it. Some Aussi doctor discovered it.
    Very bad situation, indeed. Eat a lot of yogurt to displace bad bacteria.

  39. Jacqueline Avatar

    This is a great read and understanding of your digestive & gut. Check it out.

  40. Eve Burns Avatar
    Eve Burns

    I seem to have to take metamucille every morning otherwise, I get constipated, do you think because of the fibre I take that the bowel has become lazy? Would appreciate a reply.



  41. Rod Cox Avatar
    Rod Cox

    Floaters are a good indication of eating a lot of fruits and vegtables and sinkers are an indication of eating a lot of grains sugars and meats. We all need more fruits and vegtables.Also Aloe Vera juice from the health food store is very good for the stomach and the entire digestive system.

  42. Rod Cox Avatar
    Rod Cox

    Aloe vera juice from the health food store is generally a much better grade than from a grocery store,or drug store. I appreciate very much the good health tips you are sending to people. We would all be a lot better off if we did these things you are reccomending. Thank you again,Sincerely Rod Cox

  43. Barbara Avatar

    Can you address flat stool? I have had pelvic floor prolapse surgery at age 68, that included rectal bulge and the uterus. Mesh was used . After 3 yrs I need to watch how I sit as the pain still pulsates . And flat poop scares my watchful assessments. Was hoping you could shed some light? Really enjoyed your explanations, and I thank you!

  44. Priscilla Jacobson Avatar
    Priscilla Jacobson

    YOU have been a God sent to me.
    85years old. was fine until Chemotherapy at 72,
    Have has IBS since then ,,,

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