Everybody Poops — 9 Surprising Facts About Feces You May Not Know That Can Affect Your Health.

Everybody Poops — 9 Surprising Facts About Feces You May Not Know That Can Affect Your Health.

(Before It’s News)

Everybody poops.

But that doesn’t mean everybody’s aware of all there is to know about it.

Poop is not just a laughing matter. The scientists and doctors who study feces have found that it’s the byproduct of a diverse community of bacteria in your gut that impacts your health in all sorts of ways. Paying closer attention to your stool can tell you about the condition of these vital bacteria — and your overall health.

With that in mind, I spoke to Robynne Chutkan, a gastroenterologist at Georgetown Hospital and the author ofGutbliss and the forthcoming The Microbiome Solution: a pair of books about the gastrointestinal tract, the microbes that live in it, and the stool that comes out of it.

Here are some facts about poop you might like to know.

1) Poop is mostly bacteria — not old food

It’s tempting to think of feces as simply the used-up remains of the food you ate — the stuff that makes it through after digestion.

In reality, this stuff is present, but 50 to 80 percent of your poop (excluding water) is actually bacteria that had been living in your intestines and was then ejected as food passed through. Many of the bacteria in poop are still alive, but some are dead — carcasses of species that bloomed as they fed on the indigestible plant matter you consumed, then died shortly afterward.

But it’s not all bacteria. Your poop also includes some of this indigestible plant matter — like the cellulose in vegetables —with the exact proportions dependent on your diet. Your poop also contains small amounts of your own tissue: intestinal lining cells that were sloughed off during digestion. And, of course, there’s water.

2) Poop is brown because of dead red blood cells and bile

Your feces’ color is the result of a chemical called stercobilin. That chemical ends up in your poop in two ways: it is byproduct of the hemoglobin in broken-down red blood cells, and it also comes from bile, the fluid secreted into your intestines to help digest fat.

Chutkan says that in a person with an optimally-functioning digestive system, “the ideal stool is a deep chocolatey color — like melted chocolate.”

Without stercobilin present, poop would be a pale grey or whitish color. We know this because people who have liver disease or clogged bile ducts (causing little or no bile to get to their intestines) have light-colored feces, a condition known as acholic stool.

Other colors of poop can be a sign of other conditions. Yellow stool can be the result of a parasitic infection, or pancreatic cancer. Black or dark red poop can be an indication of bleeding in the upper GI tract — or of eating beets. Green feces can also be the sign of an infection. If your poop is blue, it’s probably just because of blue food coloring.

3) Men and women poop differently

Because of anatomical differences, men and women’s GI tracts work a little differently. These differences are so significant, in fact, that Chutkan says she could perform a colonoscopy and correctly guess the patient’s sex without knowing it beforehand.

For starters, women have wider pelvises than men, as well as extra internal organs (such as the uterus and ovaries) in the region. As a result, their colons hang a bit lower than men’s, and are a bit longer: on average, by ten centimeters. Finally, men have more rigid abdominal walls that help push food through the GI tract more effectively.

All this, Chutkan says, “makes the passage of stool much more challenging for women.” Food takes longer to transit through most women, she says, making them more prone to bloating. Men, on the other hand, are generally much more regular.

4) The ideal poop is a “continuous log” — and sinks to the bottom of the toilet

Although Chutkan cautions that there’s no single “ideal poop,” she notes that there are some characteristics that are a sign of a healthy digestive system and microbiome.

There are some doctors that say pooping three times a week is sufficient, but Chutkan says that you should probably make a bowel movement every day — assuming you’re eating food every day. (In some cases, irregularity can actually be caused by extreme stress, as hormones like adrenaline and cortisol can slow down the digestive process.)

Under ideal conditions, she says, “it should be very easy to pass — almost effortless.” And it should take the form of a continuous log or two, with a diameter similar to that of a circle you can make with your index finger and thumb.

Finally, poop should sink, not float. Floating stool is usually a sign of poor nutrient absorption or excessive gas… READ THE FULL STORY HERE: http://www.jbbardot.com/everybody-surprising-health/

Source: Vox.com — http://www.vox.com/2015/1/22/7871579/poop-feces — Written by Joseph Stromberg

 

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