Yep, I'm that girl — the one who isn't afraid to talk about poop. You might think that's really icky, but I firmly believe there is nothing wrong with having a little chat about a good old Number Two when the context and mood are right. In fact, you can actually learn a lot from your poop.
Are you peeking into the toilet bowl after every BM? You should be (and deep down, you know you want to!). Your poop wants to be your friend; it wants to tell you things that you wouldn't otherwise know about your body. It wants to send you warning signs when it's time to address a health concern. Help it help you.
There is no need to fear your stool — 75 percent of it is just water, anyway. And according to the University of Massachusetts, the rest of your bowel movements are composed of dead and living bacteria, protein, indigestible fiber, and waste materials. There's an intriguing idea developed by social psychologists about why we're so afraid to talk about poop, called Terror Management Theory. Basically, our bodily functions remind us of our "creatureliness" and the fact that we are mortal beings. Pooping means we will die one day, and some of us just can't handle it.
Well you can deal with it, because you're magnificent! And you deserve to be able to feel comfortable with your poop — comfortable enough to know when it's trying to communicate important information to you. Check out these five things about your bowel movements that you may think are gross, but are really perfectly normal, and take the first step on the road to making peace with your poop.
1. There Are Visible Chunks Of Food In It
Yep, disgusting — but completely normal. Having chunks of food in your poop doesn't mean that there's anything wrong with your body. Some of the things we eat simply can't get broken down properly by the enzymes in our digestive system. Foods that are high in fiber fall into this category, such as corn, peanuts, peas, and beans. These are resistant to hydrolysis, the process by which an item's chemical bond is split by adding water to it.
Additionally, the higher the temperature at which the food is cooked, the longer it will stay in the digestive system and the longer it will take to break down. So that chunky peanut butter you like to slather on your afternoon snack — the one that is likely roasted at a high heat — might never get fully digested.
Another food that often gets spotted in stool is quinoa. It contains insoluble or indigestible fiber, and it's especially hard for the body to process if it hasn't been cooked thoroughly enough. Experts also say that most people don't chew it well enough, as it's a mushy, fine kind of fare, which might result in it showing up clearly in your toilet bowl.
2. It's Really Green
Ah, you must be a kale-and-spinach kind of gal. Some people get freaked out when they see a bright green toilet bowl staring back at them after they wipe off. It's not always a bad thing, though. It most likely means that you're eating a lot of foods that contain a good amount of the green pigment chlorophyll, like broccoli. Keep up the good work.
While you're examining the color of your stool, though, also consider what it feels like when you move your bowels. Can you pass that green mass without any straining or sharp pains? Are your trips to the bathroom regular? Then yeah, that jade-like color is something that doesn't belong on your worry list.
3. It Smells Spicy
Even I have to cringe a little bit as I write this. There aren't many concrete scientific studies out there to prove this to be true (I mean, who would volunteer to conduct them?), but George Preti, an organic chemist and smell researcher, told MSN that people who eat a lot of spicy food tend to emit odors — whether through the pores of their skin or in the toilet bowl — that smell very similar to the aromas of those foods.
That includes curries, hot sauces, and chili-based dishes. All of them might be great going down, but don't be alarmed if the next trip to the bathroom smells, well, zesty. You actually might not even be able to notice the spicy smell yourself — kind of like how you don't realize you have garlic breath until someone tells you. But then there are those days when you can't help but be put off by what just came out of your own body.
Doctors say this is no cause for concern, though — especially if the spicy foods you're choosing to consume are rich in nutrients and beneficial to your overall health. It just depends on whether you're hardcore enough to handle those scents on a regular basis.
4. The Texture Of It Changes Regularly
Poop can look different every time it stares back at you from the toilet, and that is perfectly healthy. If you aren't already doing so, keep an eye on its shape and size — it's gross, but it matters. The texture of stool depends on how long it has been moving through your colon, and it can indicate how much fiber you're getting in your diet.
If you've just gone on a fried food binge over the weekend with your girlfriends, expect your waste to be firmer or harder than usual. You might think it would turn out greasy (you know, like how spicy food makes it smell spicy), but that's not the case. In this scenario, it also might be a little bit more difficult to expel from the body. No problem, as long as this doesn't persist over a long period of time.
Poop comes out much "bulkier and softer" when you're consuming enough healthy, fiber-rich foods. Sometimes, though, you might see a little bit of mucus mixed in there, and that's OK. It's just your colon lining offering some lubrication to pass the thing. However, keep in mind that a lot of mucus is a sign to talk to your doc.
5. You Have Diarrhea On Your Period
Again, normal. San Francisco OBGYN Jennifer Gunter told Women's Health that your body releases a lot of prostaglandins on the first few days of your period. These are hormone-like compounds that cause your uterus to contract, and do the same to the muscles of your bowels. And you guessed it, that equals both menstrual cramps and more pooping.
Gunter also says that prostaglandins don't just cause extra trips to the bathroom; they also might cause you to feel like you have to go, like, now. They push on your bowel so much that you get the runs much more easily. So don't fret if you're dealing with diarrhea for up to a few days, as it's a perfectly normal side effect of having your period. Not a fun one, of course. But definitely normal.
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