or Fibre - just eat it!
right amount of fiber is the first step, however you spell it!
Normal stools are about 75% water. Fiber
in your diet holds onto water, making stools soft as
toothpaste. This signifies a healthy stool. Years ago in the
Saturday Night Post magazine, there was a hilarious article about the
importance of having poop that floats - and it's still true. If
your poop doesn't float, you're not getting enough fiber in your
diet. So consider adding fiber by Going
With the Grain and Know Your
are normally brown from the pigments formed by bacteria and bile from
the liver. Bleeding high up in the digestive tract (esophagus,
stomach ulcers, etc.) can cause the stool to become black and tarry in
appearance. If there is bleeding lower down in the
digestive tract (hemorrhoids or colon problem) the stools will be mixed
with bright red blood. Anything that blocks the bile duct, or problems
with liver or gall bladder will affect the normal flow of bile to the
intestine. This will result in pale or white stools.
jump to conclusions about a sudden change in stool color. Eating a
lot of black licorice or imbibing red wine will cause tarry, dark
stools. Blueberries, beets and even paprika-laden dishes can darken
stools, and so will iron pills and good old Pepto-Bismol. If you
experience these symptoms in your stool regularly without anything in
your diet to account for it, then it's time to run (don't walk) to your
doc for a thorough checkup.
- Watch It!
normally contain about 1% fat. If the amount rises to 7%, it
creates a condition called steatorrhea. This type of stool is
soft, smelly and sticks to the toilet bowl. This can occur temporarily
after a fatty meal. If it's happening too often, you may need to
reduce or substitute fats in your diet. Check out the
on Fat and Fat Substitutions
articles for tips on reducing fat and using "good" fats in
your diet. If it's a chronic problem, it is from a lack of
pancreatic enzymes and you should consult your doctor. Usually,
taking a digestive enzyme supplement will do the trick.
with the Flow
often you go is a very individual matter. Some folks have one to
three movements a day, other may go every 3 days. Both extremes
and anything in between are perfectly normal. Don't confuse not
going daily with constipation. It's not frequency of bowel
movements, but the difficulty of having one that signifies constipation.
time to be "moved" is after breakfast. Getting up
triggers an increase in bowel activity. Breakfast expands the
stomach and stimulates the bowels. This tells the colon that
"it's time to go". Don't delay a bowel movement for very
long when the urge is triggered. Short delays can be good because
they cause a more intense urge and an easier bowel movement.
bulky stool that is as soft as toothpaste and floats is the perfect
poop, but see the Bristol Stool Chart at right for the range. It has many health advantages, and fiber is the key to it
stools pass through the colon more easily and quickly that those
that are hard as rocks
is less straining therefore less chance of getting diverticulitis
(small colon hernias) and decreased risk of hemorrhoids
fiber diets lower blood cholesterol and fight obesity - keeping thin
reduces risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease
contains vitamins and minerals, but has few calories - it fills up
the stomach and reduces the hunger reflex
our western culture, "sinkers" are by far the norm when it
comes to poop. Please don't drive yourself to distraction trying
to achieve a "floater" every time you have a bowel
movement. You'll get ulcers for crying out loud! And
you can overdo the fiber in your diet if you add too much, too soon, so
increase your dietary fiber slowly.
if your poop consistently floats, there's a chance you might have a
malabsorption problem - a dysfunction of the GI tract that affects the
body's ability to digest and absorb fat. Acute gastrointestinal
infections can also result in increased gas content in the intestines,
due to rapid movement of stool through the GI tract. Or, possibly
cystic fibrosis, celiac disease, biliary atresia, abetalipoprotenimia
could be responsible - all of which cause too much fat to end up in the
stool, and all of which require medical attention.
take all things in moderation - including your quest for floaters.
Increase your dietary fiber, decrease the fat, and do get an annual
physical exam that includes a colon checkup. Then sit back and
relax - on the throne!