Pooping 101: 4 Signs Your Poop is Healthy

by Jordan Reasoner

Man in suit wearing gas mask reading newspaper on the toilet

You wouldn’t believe some of the poop pictures people email us.

I’ll spare you the details, but I’ve seen more poop selfie’s from people to last a lifetime. Our team started putting disclaimers on these emails so we didn’t open them while eating ha ha.

But in all seriousness, I’m very happy these people are actually using their poop as a troubleshooting tool. Many people don’t (or won’t), because talking about poop can be very weird in today’s culture.

But if we’re honest about it we can learn a lot from our poop. If we actually stop and take a look in the toilet bowl, our poop can be a very real indication of our health on a regular basis.

Your Poop is Whispering to You

We all poop. It’s one of the few reminders we get about our health on a (hopefully) daily basis, and yet most don’t pay much attention to it. But the truth is: if you’re not pooping right,  it could be a subtle clue from your body that something is going wrong.

You’re probably spending a lot of time and energy to consume healthy, real food. But are you digesting it well? Are you breaking it down and absorbing all of the nutrients? The quality of your poop is a direct indication of how well your digestive tract is functioning.

If you’re poop isn’t healthy, your digestive tract is either moving too slow or too fast… which can lead to an increased risk of conditions like neurological disease, autoimmune disease and chronic inflammatory conditions.

Not only that, recent research suggests that your brain and the good bacteria in your gut communicate directly with one another influencing your mood, immune system, and inflammation levels (1) (2) (3).

There’s also good short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) in your colon, which have anti-inflammatory effects and increase insulin sensitivity (4).

Think of your poop like the check engine light in your car. We all hate it when that turns on, but it’s important. Your engine might need something simple like a new air filter… or it could be 2 miles before everything blows up. If you don’t do something about it, you could get stranded on the side of the road with a huge repair bill.

BUT… if you’re pooping well it could be a good sign your body is doing well and on the way to good health.

Is Your Poop Healthy?

There are four keys to a perfect poop. If you’ve ever had one… you know what we’re talking about. But if you’re not sure, take this poop assessment and see where you stack up.

1.  Does your poop look like a snake?

The most important part of a healthy poop is the quality, so you need to start looking down and see what’s really going on in the toilet. Thankfully, the folks at the University of Bristol published a study in the Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology, gifting us with the Bristol Stool Chart (5).

Here it is:

Bristol Stool Chart

Where does your most recent BM stack up? Anything between a Bristol 1-3 is considered constipated, while 6’s and 7’s are considered diarrhea.

What this means: A healthy poop is “like a sausage or a snake, smooth and soft.” If your poops aren’t looking 4ish, it could be trying to tell you something (like you have low stomach acid).

2.  How often are you pooping?

Everyone is different, but the research agrees we should all poop every day. The range of healthy is typically 1-3 times a day, and it can vary day-to-day. Poop is waste and you need to get rid of it every day to make sure that you’re properly removing toxins. Some people even have bowel movements every time they eat.

What this means: If you find yourself pooping a couple times a week you’re probably constipated. If you’re going 5+ times a day, you’re on the diarrhea side of things. Both could pose serious health risks over the long term.

3.  How easy is it to poop?

It’s so normal in our culture to take a newspaper to the bathroom and spend 30 minutes in there battling it out with your poop. But the reality is: a healthy poop should only take but a few minutes. It should be easy. Pushing typically leads to hemorrhoids which are all too common today.

What this means: Normal poop strikes a balance between not having to push or strain, but also not having so much urgency you can barely hold it. If you’re spending 10+ minutes on the toilet or running to make it just in time, you’re not having healthy bowel movements.

4: Did you get it all out?

For some people this is a non-issue… but part of a healthy poop is having what’s called “full evacuation.” Are you getting all your poop out when you sit down? Do you have to keep coming back over and over again? Or do you feel like there’s always something left behind making you feel uncomfortable?

What this means: A healthy poop is a complete one. If you never quite feel empty, then you’re not having healthy bowel movements.

3 Tips to Improve Your Poop

If your poop isn’t normal based on the quiz above, we know your digestive health isn’t what it should be. So, here’s a few tips to improve your digestive health and get closer to perfect poops.

1.  Avoid the 4 Horsemen

The biggest problem we see with people eating a real food diet, like Paleo, SCD, WAPF, or GAPS, is when they’re still not pooping well. There could be a lot of different root causes behind that, but the first place to start troubleshooting is the “4 horsemen.”  These are the 4 most common foods that are allowed, but cause a lot of problems. They are dairy, nuts/nut flours, eggs, and too much fruit/honey.

If you’re someone who’s struggling with constipation or diarrhea, you need to start troubleshooting your diet first. The most important thing you can do is listen to what your poop is telling you and continue to make changes and improve the food you’re eating. Removing the four horsemen can sometimes transform people’s poop overnight.

2.  Eat Good Bugs

Our gut has a TON of bacteria, and a healthy gut flora is critical for healthy poop.

Consume good bugs every single day. Start with foods like sauerkraut, kimchi or water kefir and see how well you tolerate them. A high quality probiotic, like Prescript Assist, is one supplement that can also boost the immune system in the gut and improve digestive health. Te learn more about probiotics, go here.

3.  Eat More Fat (And Take Digestive Enzymes)

Fat has a direct impact on peristalsis… the waves our bodies make to get rid of poop. Fat can be extremely helpful for people who are constipated. Increase your healthy fats from sources like coconut oil, animal fat, olive oil, and fermented cod liver oil.

However, increasing healthy fats can sometimes make diarrhea worse, which is why we recommend starting out with a good digestive enzyme (brands in this video). They contain Lipase, which is the enzyme that can help digest healthy fats.

If you aren’t having healthy poops right now, try these three changes for 30 days and see how you feel. The best part about poop is that it keeps giving you feedback, so you have regular signs of whether these changes are helping or not.

If you’ve tried all of this and are in need of next level support, then order a stool test here (direct to your home).

– Jordan

P.S. – Where does your poop stack up?  Leave a comment and let us know.

About the author

Jordan Reasoner Jordan Reasoner is a health engineer and author. He was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2007 and almost gave up hope when a gluten-free diet didn’t work. Since then, he transformed his health using the SCD Diet and started SCDLifestyle.com to help others naturally heal stomach problems. You can check out his story here and find him on Google+, Facebook or Twitter.

The Specific Carbohydrate Diet Works

{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

franz April 3, 2014 at 2:58 pm

im doing paleo diet. And for my stool, when it first comes out, its firmed with banana shape, just like the type 4, but after half mins into the water,they are gradually turn into type 6..is it normal? and whats the cause for this situation.. thx

Reply

Monique September 25, 2014 at 3:06 pm

It’s normal because when poop touches water it won’t stay for a long time.

Reply

Alison April 3, 2014 at 4:18 pm

Thanks for this very informative and well written article on poop! I’ve shared it on my FB page, and hope to encourage others to not only pay attention to their own poop, but (if possible) to their children’s poop. It’s an easy way to assess your child’s health and make sure their little bodies are happy and healthy!

Reply

susan April 3, 2014 at 4:46 pm

So glad to see you guys addressing incomplete poops…one of the hallmarks of IBS…especially IBS-C. Could you please comment back on this: I may have to go 1-4 times/day, but sometimes my colon ‘wrenches up’…like there is a charleyhorse in it. The poop is there, but the colon spasms and will not move it along. Gets tough to eat, because you feel very backed up, gassy, full and in pain. and…In many that have IBS-C, fat exacerbates this rather than helping it. I eat clean, take probiotics, recently had a pretty normal stool sample test and am taking enzymes for commensal bacteria found. Would love to hear what you have to say. THANKS! and best to you for you continued good work and success.

Reply

Rhi May 8, 2014 at 2:35 am

I’m no expert, but maybe a squatty potty would help you out. I own one. It elevates your feet so that you are in a more natural squatting position, which helps your lower digestive (pooping muscles) relax and work more effectively. There is a really good (not graphic) video on youtube and you can buy the product on Amazon. Here’s the video link : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pYcv6odWfTM

Good Luck Susan!
Rhi

Reply

Stephanie Hawkins June 18, 2014 at 1:51 pm

Omgoodness this is me all the way. Sometimes i go 4 days without pooping. I have IBS-C, auto immune disease, mental issues….blah blah blah you name it I feel it. Been living like this since I was 15, I’m now 38 . Its exhausting and controls my life. I had it under the most control last year thru Paleo diet and crossfit. I had never felt better. However, I allowed work stress and excuses to take over and I’m back where I started two years ago. I want to get back on track but struggle to make ‘today the day’ I change. If I poop once a day its a magical day. I know this is not a response to your question to the experts, its nice to know I’m not alone in this struggle.

Reply

Selina April 3, 2014 at 5:09 pm

Hi there but I was wondering should a healthy poop sink or float??!!!!

Reply

Amy April 3, 2014 at 5:27 pm

Is it normal to have type 1 some days and type 4 some days?
Thanks!

Reply

Gina Catalano April 4, 2014 at 5:09 pm

I’m almost to week 4 of Phase 1 Tough Case and I was constipated for the first week. I was advised to take CALM magnesium to soften the poop and now I go about every other day but it varies between a 6 and 7. I had stopped taking Betaine HCl because I was taking Aleve and Tylenol 3 times a day to manage the RA pain and swelling. I am now almost symptom free except when I introduced pears and then zucchinis. It takes about three days for the symptoms to go away. I’m a bit concerned about my poops and went back to Bitters when I began experiencing indigestion a few days ago and gas symptoms after each meal (I don’t think it’s heatburn, but it feels like air is stuck right under my sternum.
Should I be concerned? Is it common to react to pears and zucchini? I’m supposed to introduce apples and I’m a bit nervous….

Reply

D.Kay April 4, 2014 at 5:41 pm

How about poop that is so soft and smooth that is sticks to the bowl? Isn’t that the ‘tarry’ poop we hear about? What does that indicate?? Also have indigestion mentioned in last comment with gas symptoms after meals (like air stuck under sternum) and at times alot of burping.

Reply

Deb April 4, 2014 at 10:14 pm

I was wondering about floating poop also. Mine seldom sink and are usually a 4.

Thanks!

Reply

Peace June 14, 2014 at 3:40 pm

OMG the low carb for too long rings true for me, before Paleo I went on the restrictive anti-yeast diet then gluten free, all three restrictive carb diets, no wonder I crave pasta :0
My diet is too restrictive and so is my bowel!
Where is the constricted HB pencil on the stool chart???
Hmmm….my hormones are unbalanced, I’m an emotional mess, insomnia and no NRG!
I thot my cortisol is low and my adrenals crashed, can this be fixed by adding carbs and salt?
The salt deprivation rings true, as does the fat deprivation.
I have to re-train myself to eat properly now that I’m somewhat gut healed I guess, this trial and error process is exhausting and complicated.
I did manage to go from IBS alternating to IBS-C though, IBD still inflammation but not ulcerated,no pain or gas during my lengthy remissions, no meds all diet.

Reply

leslie August 12, 2014 at 11:12 pm

WHAT causes “mucousy looking” poop….? I’m an artist who works with natural clays and worry about parasites from invisible eggs…My doctor said she wouldn’t worry if I have no intestinal distress, but….

Reply

albert August 16, 2014 at 11:52 pm

I CANT POOP, I POOP ONCE MAYBE 3 TIMES A MONTH, 5 ON A GOOD ONE. I NEVER GET CRAMPS OR PAINS SO ITS NOT LIKE IM CONSTIPATED AND JUST AM NOT GOING. MY DOCTOR SAYS NOTHING IS WRONG WITH ME AND THAT ALL MY LEVELS ARE GOOD. ON THE CHART I WASNT CONSTIPATED OR ANYTHING WHEN I DO POOP ITS SNAKE LIKE SO WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH ME. MY DIET IS HEALTHY I DRINK A LOT OF WATER AND SUCH AND IM NOT FAT SO I DONT THINK ITS ALL STUCK IN THERE… MY THEORY IS I MAY HAVE A REALLY ACIDIC STOMACH AND IT JUST GETS WASHED DOWN WITH MY URINE BC I PEE A LOT BUT STILL IVE BEEN LIKE THIS SINCE I CAN REMEMBER AND WELL I JUST WANT TO POOP EVERYDAY..and be normal

HELP ME FIX MY POOP

Reply

Brent Kovacs August 18, 2014 at 5:55 pm

Hi Albert, thanks for reaching out! In many cases, the first step comes down to a matter of figuring out the proper definition for your situation. Steve addresses constipation in depth in this blog post and what can be done to help turn things around: http://scdlifestyle.com/2013/10/4-common-signs-of-constipation/

Reply

andrew August 19, 2014 at 5:03 pm

HELP PLEASE!!!!

i changed my diet to include alot more healthy foods, im even eating less meat and drinking ungodly amounts of water. I took activia for 2 weeks (the cup said to take for only two weeks) and in the first week and a half my poop went from a type 2 to a type 4. But then it started to deteriorate back to a type 2 over the next 3 days. Im still pooping everyday, buts its very hard now, and i went from pooping in the mornings to pooping at random points in the day. This is the second time ive changed my diet and its the same result. Everything works well at first but then i get constipated again. I have no idea what to do. Also i never seem to let it all out when i go. Theres always some left over. Can anybody help me out??

Reply

Brent Kovacs August 20, 2014 at 2:17 pm

Hi Andrew, we suggest starting SCD from the intro diet and giving it at least 30 days to see how you feel. Two really key supplements to consider as well are digestive enzymes and betaine hcl. They can literally be a light switch for turning around GI problems.

Reply

Alisha Ivey August 20, 2014 at 3:34 pm

Ok I have been having a bad problem and don’t have Insurance to go the doctor I have been pooping all day for two weeks and before that I didn’t poop for a month i normally only poop 3-4 times a week I haven’t changed my diet at all my poop has been 5-7 after I pooped the first two times from not going for a month and the first two times it was 1-3 all I know is I don’t like this at all my in a mad mood all the time my stomach is in pain please help

Reply

Steven Wright August 24, 2014 at 12:18 am

Hey Alisha – It’s a good idea to have a doctor who gets it on your side. In the meantime keep reading on this site. Get our free quick start guide and some digestive enzymes and you’ll be well on your way to easing the pain.

Reply

kristy September 3, 2014 at 5:58 pm

i no my poop is not normal at all i dont have insurance
ive just started like 3 months ago taking high blood pressure medication
paying for that and not to mention over the contours diarrhea medication ive been having it for over a month now first thing in the morning i changed to decaf coffee and still right away diarrhea
in the late afternoon diarrhea sometimes 3 times a day
is there anything else i can do to get ride of this not sure if the medication is doing this to me but my blood pressure is down now this is happening it is a little irrating being i have kids to take care of so
is there a answer on how to get back to a regulr poop i no my die is off wack too :-)
but im trying

Reply

Brent Kovacs September 4, 2014 at 4:12 pm

Hi Kristy,

Thanks for reaching out! We recommend starting SCD and giving it at least 30 days and see how you feel. You can find our book here: http://scdlifestylebook.com. Also, it would be a good idea to remove coffee completely until you know for sure you’re not reacting to it and much healing has occurred.

Reply

Rob P September 4, 2014 at 11:36 pm

Okay I have been pooping 5-8 times a day every time is diarrhea for 5 days straight. I get stomach pain then have to go even waking up in the middle of the night. I have been eating healthy since the second day. Please let me know what I can do that isn’t expensive. I need help fast.

Reply

Jordan Reasoner September 5, 2014 at 9:16 am

HI Rob, thanks for reaching out today! Please try some digestive enzymes as well as remove any trigger foods from your diet. Here is a great article: http://scdlifestyle.com/2013/06/stop-diarrhea-fast/

Reply

Rob P September 5, 2014 at 11:10 am

Thank you! I ordered Enzynes and Probiotic

Reply

kaytlyn September 8, 2014 at 1:27 am

Hi have an issue,I used to have regular bowel movements once daily until I had my son via c-section. I now have bowel movements like #6-#7 after every meal and I have horrible gas/stomach pain before and after this is really bothering me and I feel somethings wrong. Do you think I should seek medical attention from a health care provider of mine?

Reply

kaytlyn September 8, 2014 at 1:28 am

I also found out since I’ve had my son that I have ovarian cysts could this be linked with my issue

Reply

Lori Jo Berg September 9, 2014 at 6:09 pm

HI Kaytlyn, thank you for reaching out! It is always a good idea to find a practitioner you trust to oversee your medical concerns and decisions. If you are in need of one, you can find one here: http://scdlifestyle.com/practitioners/ You can also try one of our programs, as they will help you address these issues you have mentioned.

Reply

Zara October 9, 2014 at 11:11 pm

Hi is it normal to poop everyday? My poops are like type 4 had it now for about two weeks? I’m doing more exsurses now and also using cergem beds? Hater I poop my bum is really ichy :/ and feels like I need to go for poop again what cud this be please?

Reply

Lori Jo Berg October 13, 2014 at 6:04 pm

Hi Zara, thank you for reaching out! Yes, it is normal and healthy to poop each day, as this is one of the ways our bodies detoxes it’s self. If you feel you are not all the way done when you have had a bowel movement, this is a sign of constipation as well and we suggest you adapt a new diet, as well as a constipation protocol such as the one in our program here: http://healthygut.solvingleakygut.com/

Reply

Leave a Comment