Is your stool normal? 10 things it can reveal about your health

What we do in the bathroom is a taboo subject, but let’s talk about it. Everyone aka. In fact, your bowel movements are one of the most important indicators of your health at your disposal. I’m not saying you have to monitor every bowel movement. However, paying attention to what’s going on can help you monitor your health and detection of food intolerances you might have missed it.

Change in size, shape and smell is normal. Your stools will change depending on what you’ve eaten and how much water you’ve drunk. You will experience different types over time; it only becomes a problem when the unwanted colors and shapes last more than a few days. Here’s what the shape and color of your poop is trying to tell you about your health.

For more tips on your health, learn how to determine your blood type and easy ways to improve your gut.

What is the Bristol Stool Form Scale?

Before we begin, let’s level the scales on the Bristol Stool Form Scale, a medical tool that helps categorize stool into seven buckets, allowing doctors to estimate the length of time stool has been in the bowel. This is the scale on which you should think about your bowel movements.


Everyone’s stools will vary slightly. However, the ideal stool is smooth, easy to pass and brown. Healthy poops shouldn’t take long to pass. So if you’re in the bathroom for more than fifteen minutes, you’re constipated. The average person will poop every other day or up to three times each day.

Contact your doctor immediately if you notice significant changes in your bowel movements, blood in your stool, or abdominal pain.

What the shape of your stool is trying to tell you

Hard lumps

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BSFS types one and two are usually difficult to pass, indicating constipation. This happens when stool moves slowly through the digestive system, resulting in a long time in your intestines. Constipation can be caused by diet, but it can also be related to stress. The stress hormones that the body releases affect our bodily processes, including bowel movements.

If you often have this type of bowel movement, adding more fiber to your diet can make things easier. According to the Mayo Clinic, the recommended fiber intake for women is 21 to 25 grams and 30 to 38 grams per day for men. The majority of people do not get enough fiber from their diet. You can try fiber supplements to help things along.

It’s also important to make sure you drink enough water to loosen your stools and leave them pass without tension. You can also add more magnesium-rich foods and probiotics to your diet to reduce constipation.

Soft spots

Stools characterized by soft spots (type five) indicate a deficiency soluble fiber in your diet. Focus on adding fiber-rich foods like beans, avocados, and whole grains. Or add a fiber supplement to your diet that will regulate digestion and help get your bowel movements back on track.

However, consuming too much fiber can cause constipation. This usually happens when more than 70 grams are taken each day. Still, monitoring your bowel movements when taking fiber supplements is important to make sure you’re helping your digestion as intended.


BSFS types six and seven are forms of diarrhea. This is not the ideal form of stool, as it is difficult for the body to obtain nutrients from food if it passes through the body too quickly.

We have all had diarrhea and will have it in the future. An acute case of diarrhea can be caused by illness or food poisoning. Long-term diarrhea that lasts for several weeks may indicate food intolerance or underlying digestive disorders. Make an appointment with your doctor if you have frequent diarrhea to be addressed if you have chronic inflammation, irritable bowel syndrome or food sensitivities.

Read more: Tips for traveling with IBS

A man in polka dot pajamas runs to the toilet with a roll of toilet paper in hand.

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What the Color of Your Stool Says About Your Diet

Brown is the normal color of stool, with slight variations in shade. However, the color of your stool can vary depending on your diet and the medications you are taking.

White or pale

Your stools should not be chalky or white. Sometimes this happens as a side effect of the medications you are taking. However, it can mean more serious health problems. White or pale stools may indicate that your body is not producing enough bile, a bile duct is blocked, or you may have an infection or inflammation in your liver, pancreas, or gallbladder.


Red stools can be alarming, but they can occur due to mundane sources like your diet. If you eat a lot of blueberries or beets, you may notice that your stools have a red tint. It can also happen because you have consumed a lot of red food coloring or red-colored medicines. Red stools can appear in two ways: a red coating or spots.

More seriously, red stools can indicate bleeding in the colon or rectum, which can be symptoms of disorders such as diverticulosis, Crohn’s disease, or conditions such as colon cancer. If you haven’t eaten anything that would make your stool red, contact your doctor immediately for a visit.


Green poop is good sometimes! There are several reasons for the appearance of green stools. First, you eat a ton of leafy green vegetables – that’s the best reason. It could also be because you ate a lot of things with green food coloring. Finally, it could point to the fact that your food is passing through your body too quickly.


For most people, yellowish, greasy stools tell you that your diet is too high in fat. Alternatively, it is an indicator of malabsorption, or your body is not extracting nutrients from your food. Celiac disease is a malabsorption disease that is often the culprit of yellow stools.


Black poop is another color that no one wants to see. However, your stools may be black due to your medications. For example, iron supplements or over-the-counter medications like Pepto Bismol can create a black color.

If you haven’t had any of these things, black stools can also be a sign of upper GI bleeding. Any internal bleeding is something that needs to be checked out. If you notice that your stool is extremely dark or black and you haven’t been taking any supplements, make an appointment with your primary care physician to find the source.

Other stool characteristics

Change in smell

Let’s be clear: it will never smell good. Although you usually know what to expect from your body in terms of smell. If you suddenly experience bowel movements that are particularly smelly or unique to your body, this could point to something going on.

It may indicate Crohn’s disease, celiac disease or ulcerative colitis. Alternatively, it could mean you have inflammation of the pancreas or intestines.


Sometimes stools float because they are less dense than other bowel movements. This can happen due to a high fiber diet or a lot of gas. It can also mean that your body is not absorbing nutrients as well as it should. The occasional floating stool is not an immediate sign of concern. Persistent floating stool is worth mentioning to your doctor.

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Tips to keep your digestion healthy

We all want healthy digestion. After all, our gut is where our body absorbs the nutrients we need from our food. Here are some tips you can incorporate into your diet to keep your gut healthy.

  • I drink water: The most common reason people have BSFS type one or two stools is that they are not drinking enough water. Water helps loosen the stool and move it along. If you are prone to constipation, make sure you drink plenty of water.
  • Eat colon-healthy foods: A a well-balanced diet it does more than just give your body the nutrients it needs; it helps you poop. Make sure you eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, fiber and magnesium.
  • Exercise regularly: Integration exercise in your daily life is one of the best things you can do to stay regular. Reduces the time it takes for food to pass through the intestines. Exercise keeps everything moving in time.

The TL;DR version of this is: every aka and it is normal to have variations in bowel movements. The best form of stool is long, smooth and brown. Persistent stool changes are worth seeing your doctor to rule out medical conditions.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have about a medical condition or health goals.

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