What Goes In, Must Come Out

I thought I’d finish out 2019 with the grossest topic I can think of, because, why not? As I’ve often written, having Diabetes can lead to a heavy score of complications and we already know that our immune systems are total crap. And crap, as the turn of phrase would have it, is the focus of this post…

How often do you go to the bathroom and look at what comes out? Before most of you start wondering if I have a pitcher of eggnog or a spiced rum at my desk as I write, this is an important part of proper health. Because what comes out of you is important and can tell you a great deal about your health.

I’ve looked into a few different sources and referenced some medical practitioners only to find a batch of common consistencies that they all bring up, as it relates to going #2. Here’s what I found:

  1. It shouldn’t take forever: There are always jokes made about how if someone is taking too long in the bathroom, it’s because they’re going #2. As funny as that joke might be (I guess), the average bowel movement shouldn’t take you more than fifteen minutes. And that’s pushing it (pun intended). A healthy bowel movement should come easily with little pushing effort to move. And the time frame doesn’t include how long you waste getting past that tough level on Angry Birds;
  2. It shouldn’t hurt: The human body is an exceptionally well-designed machine, and your digestion and elimination systems are no exception. If a bowel movement is painful or difficult to pass, this can be a sign of further concern. It should be closer to spitting a grape out of your mouth, not giving birth to a rhino;
  3. It should look normal: What is normal? I’ll get to that in a bit, but the basic is it should be solid or semi-solid and have at least SOME shade of actual brown to it. Anything else can be a sign of dehydration, lack of fibre, diarrhea, food intolerances and even stress;
  4. You should be going once a day: An article posted by HealthLine.ca indicates that, “On average, a person with healthy digestion will poop anywhere between every other day to three times a day. Any less could suggest constipation […].” (https://www.healthline.com/health/digestive-health/types-of-poop#3);
  5. “Regular” is a real thing: Despite point #4, I feel there’s a hell of a difference between going every two days and possibly going three times a day. As long as your diet and health are consistent, you should have a regular regiment and even go around the same time every day. If you’re used to going every morning at 7 am after your first coffee and all of a sudden you’re running for the nearest washroom three or four times, there’s likely something amiss.

These are only general guidelines based on the articles and references I’ve found, of course. As is the case with almost everything related to one’s health, every person is different and proper health is based on your specific diet, exercise routine, outlying medical conditions and hydration.

But let’s talk consistency for a moment, shall we? Back in the late 90’s, Dr. Ken Heaton from the University of Bristol, developed a chart that outlines the different shapes and consistencies of bowel movements in order to provide a baseline of what your particular bowel movements may be telling you. It was named The Bristol Stool Chart, but is also known as the Meyers Scale.

An example of the Bristol Stool Chart as found on Wikipedia

The chart can be easily found by Googling it, and they all show the same thing, despite some differences in design and appearance. What you’re looking for is either Type 3 or 4, with all other types signifying some potential problem or issue with your elimination and/or health. If you have Type-1 Diabetes and can basically dehydrate at the drop of a hat, diarrhea can be a serious issue. Remember to drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.

Next is colour! The poo emoji got it right; your bowel movements should be a shade of brown. There are, however, a number of other colours that may suddenly show up in the bowl.

Black or red could be an indicator or internal bleeding, however mild or severe. Of course, red could also be an indicator that you ate something pertinent, such as beets, red berries or drinking heavy amounts of tomato juice, which can add a tinge of red to your bowel movements.

White bowel movements can indicate potential liver or gallbladder issues and shouldn’t be ignored. Green colour can be an indicator of something you ate, but is also dependent on the consistency. An article posted by MedicalNewsToday.com gets pretty descriptive and can be read here: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320938.php#colors-of-poop

At the end of the day, the best ways to ensure proper elimination is to stay hydrated, exercise regularly and try and eliminate stress from your life (that last one isn’t the easiest). And there can always be one or more of these factors that suddenly make an appearance in your porcelain opera. It becomes a problem if colour, consistency or frequency change in such a way that it is no longer a one-off and doesn’t feel normal.

If you begin to feel pain, identify blood in your stool or have a colour or consistency change that doesn’t go back to normal after two or three days, you should go see your doctor or medical practitioner. Most people consider their bathroom trips to be an opportunity to get a few minutes of quiet time, read a chapter or play on their phones. But keeping an eye on what comes out can be a good indicator of your health. ☯

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Shawn

I am a practitioner of the martial arts and student of the Buddhist faith. I have been a Type 1 Diabetic since I was 4 years old and have been fighting the uphill battle it includes ever since. I enjoy fitness and health and looking for new ways to improve both, as well as examining the many questions of life. Although I have no formal medical training, I have amassed a wealth of knowledge regarding health, Diabetes, martial arts as well as Buddhism and philosophy. My goal is to share this information with the world, and perhaps provide some sarcastic humour along the way. Welcome!

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