Talking about poo can be cringe worthy for most of us. The lack of discussion around the topic has caused myths around digestive health to leave people wondering – what is and what isn’t healthy?
The ‘ick’ factor has proven too significant for some. Sixteen percent of participants in a recent survey consider gut issues such as IBS to be a taboo topic. More interestingly, 14% admitted they have kept a gut issue a secret from a friend or loved one.
The Taymount Clinic, the world’s first faecal microbiota transplant (FMT) clinic and experts in digestive health, recently launched a survey of 2,000 people* that explores the British public’s perception of digestive health issues.
The science-based clinic has decided it is time to debunk the myths about poo and to break the silence around this normal bodily function. Here are the most common misconceptions and questions around poo answered:
How many times a day is healthy?
It is a myth that passing stool once a day is healthy. In fact, any frequency is healthy as long as it isn’t impacting your quality of life or it isn’t brought on by food intolerances. One in 5 (21%) Brits said they pass stool twice a day and 36% said the longest they have ever been without ‘going’ is 3-5 days.
The more important factor to consider is the consistency of your stool – it shouldn’t be rock solid or liquid. If you are somewhere in between this is normally a good sign of good gut health.
It is completely normal for your stool to smell – this is a sign that your gut is working hard to remove any bad bacteria, fibre, dead cells and toxins from your body. However, the smell of your stool will change depending on your diet. So if you are a little embarrassed by the smell, try and increase the amount of vegetables in your diet.
Your poo shouldn’t normally float. If your gut is doing its job, you should be digesting oils and fats which will make your stool sink. The odd floater is not an issue, but if it is a common occurrence this can be a sign of bad digestive health.
You must take your time
Despite having a newspaper rack in most toilets, it is a common misconception that you must take your time passing stool. The truth is, it doesn’t matter if you wait until it’s nearly too late or if you like to get ahead of the game. It bottles down to preference. However, passing stool should be easy and pain free – so don’t strain because it will only cause abdominal pain.
Poo is ALWAYS brown
Everyone assumes poo is always brown – and most of the time it is. However, sometimes your diet will impact the colour of your poo. For example, brightly coloured foods such as beetroot or cherries will colour you poo purple if you eat enough of them. This is harmless, unless it occurs on a regular basis or it looks black or red. Nearly half (49%) of survey respondents said they have never examined their poo, but this could help identify a more serious digestive health issue.
Poo only contains digested food
Of course, your stool will contain some digested food, but the majority (approximately 75%) will consist of water. The rest will be a mixture of fibres, dead cells and bacteria from within your gut. Foods such as corn and carrots are filled with insoluble fibre, which is hard for your body to digest – this means your stool may contain undigested food as well. Don’t be alarmed, this is normal.
Do vegans have different bowel movements?
Your diet impacts every aspect of your digestive health. Fibre is found in many vegetables, beans and pulses of which encourage bowel movements – so it makes sense than people eating a plant-based diet will spend more time ‘on the throne’. Additionally, meat has high protein content and your gut can sometimes struggle to digest this, resulting in difficulty passing stool.
Of course, this may not be the case for everyone – but if you are changing your diet it is important to introduce the change slowly to reduce the shock to your gut – it may also change the smell of your stool… for the worst!