Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
14 Nov

In Search of a Good Poop (or Sh*t Happens)

cutepoopEveryone does it. Before you run in fright from your computer screen, ask yourself if you really know sh*t about, well, sh*t. All we are saying is, give poop a chance. Friends, today, we explore the ins and outs of poo matters. Because poo matters. We are in search of a good poop, and we hope you are, too. Otherwise, some serious sh*t happens. Pull up a stool and learn.

The Scoop on Poop

What goes in must come out! Sans nutrients, of course. The Poop Report says:

The human digestive system operates like a factory. The plan of operation for this facility is pretty simple.

  1. Obtain raw materials
  2. Prepare raw materials for processing
  3. Construct the product
  4. Export the finished product
  5. Profit from the endeavor

Your food is fuel and medicine for your body and your colon is a beautiful but delicate system for making sure your food benefit is maximized.

Good Poop

Proper poo should be somewhat large and well-formed, but not hard and dense. It should plop gently; this is not the time for a cacaphony of splashes. Ideal excrement is solid, smooth and comes out comfortably. If it comes out in tiny bumps or pieces, your colon may be irritated and you may not be eating healthy foods. Your stool should float or at least appear reasonably light; you do not want to be anchoring your toilet to the ground with the weight of your internal offerings. Heavy poop is not a healthy thing; it means your body is not absorbing and using nutrients from your food optimally. Your bowels are sensitive and contain important nerve endings and beneficial bacteria. If these becomes stressed or out of balance, you’ll know just by looking at your feces (and you’ll likely feel this, as well, with bloating, cramping, or discomfort). Are you a poo achiever?

Bad Poop

Improper poo: lumpy, painful, urge-a-riffic, constant, inconstant, contains undigested food (corn: avoid it), is odd in texture (is runny, resembles deer droppings, is rock solid). That’s right: there’s normal, well-adjusted crap and then there’s crappy crap. The good news is that therapy is effective for getting your sh*t together. We’ll tell you what to do to make sure your toilet time is productive and enjoyable.

That Stinks: Frequent Party Poopers

Runny, Unspeakably Horrible Stuff

Feces should not be runny, and diarrhea is just plain dangerous if prolonged. If your feces is runny, you either have some sort of infection or illness, or may have consumed something that your body doesn’t like. Visit the doctor if it goes on for more than a couple of days (especially important with the seedlings). Women, if you experience diarrhea or gas with your cycle, don’t fret; this is fairly common. If it is too much to bear, see a doctor about treatment. It can help to increase your water intake during your period. And cut back on caffeine and alcohol! Bottom line: don’t run from poo problems.

It Takes Forever

This isn’t necessarily bad. Some folks just have slow pipes. Ideally, you’ll have a bowel movement daily around the same time(s). But there are some people who simply don’t, yet they’re healthy and all signs point to pleasant. However, if…

It Hurts

Barring a legitimate health condition, you may simply not be getting enough fiber and water in your diet. Make sure you are eating multiple servings of vegetables at every single meal, and drink pure water instead of soda or fruit drinks. If you frequently feel bloated and you’re just not an ace plunker, it’s time to look at your diet and exercise habits. Poop shouldn’t tease you; it should come out with ease and grace. If it’s painful, peeking, or ‘uge, something isn’t right.

Really Weird Colors

Tie-dye in the toilet? Not a good sign. Poop will occasionally pop out in bright permutations (some spices and exotic cuisines can certainly startle your insides), but in general, you should expect a very boring, muted, muddly color range. In other words, designer crap is a load of b.s. White or yellow stools, or pink or orange coloring, can be signs of a major illness, so visit your doctor immediately if your feces starts to look like a living room from 1974.

Constipation

This is a very common complaint. The two major factors that come into play with your clingers are stress and diet. Stress causes all kinds of digestive trouble. Think about times you’ve been anxious or nervous – you feel it in your gut right along with your sweating palms and racing heart. Prolonged or chronic stress can create stubborn stools. Diet is also important to consider. If you are eating sugar, carbs, processed meats, and missing out on copious veggies, fresh fruit, nuts, and healthy fats, you are at risk for constipation. Dairy and wheat are often causes of internal cement, so lighten up the load by sticking to a diet like Mark’s.

When It Comes to Butts, Fat is King

Aim for 6-12 servings of veggies and 1-2 servings of fruit. There is no good reason to overdo fiber. Excessive fiber intake can increase appetite and interfere with healthy digestion, mineral absorption, and elimination. Interestingly, what many folks don’t realize is that increasing fat intake can help with constipation and regular bowels. Try eating more olive oil, fish, avocados, nuts, and flax seeds. Buy DHA-enhanced eggs. And take two or three fish oil pills daily. We promise, it’ll help. And cut out that blasted soda!

Things to Do While Pooping & Useful Tips

– Hum “Eye of the Tiger”

– Think Up Crass Terms for Poop and Email Us Your Suggestions (it’s cheaper than therapy)

– Read MDA

– Sing “What’s New Pussycat?”

– Annoy your roommate/spouse by taking forever

– Appreciate your toilet time: it’s nature’s way of giving you peace and (sorta) quiet

– Prepare match, you little stinker, you

– Read a magazine or a book

– Carry on a conversation with your cat about your scat

– Always wipe from front to back when you’re done!

– It’s nice to keep moist towelettes available nearby to ensure extra cleanliness.

A Load of Resources:

Pooping Health

Everybody Poops

Photo: Piddleloop

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You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Count on MDA to provide the straight poop! :-)

    Dave C. wrote on November 14th, 2007
  2. After a particularly stressful day at the office I check MDA for today’s post, and this is the sh.t I get! ;-) Boy did that cheer me up.
    Thank you for possibly your best post ever!!!
    This is very important info and not much discussed at all. Great way to bring it to the attention of your readers. KUDOS Mark.

    T.

    tatsujin wrote on November 14th, 2007
  3. T,

    Stress? You don’t need that sh*t.

    :)

    Sara wrote on November 14th, 2007
  4. I have to disagree with your fiber recommendation. Ingesting too much fiber leads to a vicious cycle of constipation and increased fiber consumption. Why? Don’t ask me, I read it in a book:

    The Fiber Menace (www.fibermenace.com)

    Craig wrote on November 15th, 2007
  5. Craig-maybe from lots of psyllum and/or little water or too much grain(bran for example), but not from fruits and vegetables in a healthy individual.

    “May we all have healthy pipes this holiday season.”

    Crystal wrote on November 15th, 2007
  6. There is a premise that my acupuncture teacher had about good health: Good sleep, good food and good sh*t. AND you are right on target about food intolerances. Gluten containing grains and cow’s milk dairy are #1 cause of digestive issues. Contrary to popular belief about gluten, many individuals suffer from chronic constipation as opposed to diarrhea when they have intolerances. There are good tests out there that test for these food issues, one should do so to motivate you to make better eating choices.

    Cheryl wrote on November 15th, 2007
  7. Crystal – I totally agree with you, but I think it is unrealistic to shoot for 75g of fiber/day. That’s a lot of vegetable matter, and frankly, if you are getting enough fat and protein, it would be really tough to choke down that much matter. As an example, 8oz of spinach only contains 5g of dietary fiber, and that’s a lot of spinach! Obviously veggies contain varying amounts of fiber, but 5g/8oz is about average, and that would amount to 7.5lbs of veggies to get enough fiber!

    Craig wrote on November 16th, 2007
  8. Hi Craig- I do not count how many grams of fiber I consume so I can’t tell you that. You’re right, I agree, that’s a lot to eat and unrealistic for most folks. I do know that I get my fiber from fruits, vegetables, and nuts. I don’t think the goal is to force ourselves to eat a certain amount of grams of fiber/day. Everyone should know what their body needs to function properly and feel their best.

    Crystal wrote on November 17th, 2007
  9. I disagree Craig, I get 60-80g of fiber daily from whole raw fruits and veggies along with nuts and seeds (specifically flax). It is a lot easier then you think, and I never have a problem. My caloric intake rarely goes over 2300 cals a day.

    George wrote on December 3rd, 2007
  10. As far as the right way to wipe goes, you need to get wet. Bidanit from bidanco.com helps. It’s a hassle to install and has a poorly designed T-adapter which breaks and leaks easily, but the benefits are worth the installation problems.

    A.S. wrote on January 22nd, 2008
  11. When I consume a lot of fiber (I noticed I consumed around 70g today), my poo sinks like a rock.

    Jared wrote on February 27th, 2008
  12. My poo is very heavy and takes a few flushes and even a nudge to get it moving down the pipes. I am also slow during the poo process and I find if I knead my belly it helps the flow? What’s up with this? Oh, and when I do that, it takes awhile, but I feel as though I lose a few pounds.

    CS wrote on February 29th, 2008
  13. For all the people reading this who have or had digestive problems. I had wicked problems,my dad recomended buying a juicer and juicing 1 cup of raw cabbage juice+1 apple , twice per day.After 20 days I am very regular and feeling much better,Hope this helps, ps make sure you strain the juice before you drink it…

    jason brooks wrote on March 10th, 2008
  14. Mark,

    I’d be very curious to hear your thoughts on the idea that fiber is a problem (the oft-cited “Fiber Menace”). Is it perhaps, as Crystal mentioned, that this only applies to things like guar gum, psyillium husk, and other saw-dust like fibers? Are flax seeds, fruits, and veggies different? If so, how? I would love to see a comprehensive post about this subject, as it’s something there’s been a bit of a point of contention within the low-carb community.

    I also agree that 75g of fiber is excessive, as matter of sheer volume. I’m a 22 year old who lifts heavy and intensely, and I probably average 2500 calories/day. Even with my fiber comes from veggies, fruit, and nuts (and averaging 30% fiber by content), I’m getting about 100g of total CHO per day, with about 30-35g of that coming from fiber. Without ramping up my carbs, I don’t see how 70+ grams is possible. That being said, I do follow your advice to eat “something green with every meal!”

    I definitely feel better (and move better!) when I have more fiber, but Dr Eades – among others – has expressed concern that this much fiber irritates the bowel and is damaging in the long run. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

    Keenan wrote on March 11th, 2008
  15. I second Keenan’s request for a comprehensive post about the different types of fiber (sources) and how some could be good and some could be bad. If you do the math on the macronutrient ratios based on Cordain’s research (the paleo diet), there’s no way our hunter gatherer counter-parts were ingesting anywhere near 75g of fiber/day. It doesn’t make sense from a caloric expenditure standpoint either: why would paleo man spend an appreciable amount of time gathering veggie matter when it’s going to cost him more calories to forage than he would get in return from consumption?

    Craig wrote on March 11th, 2008
  16. Keenan, Craig-

    Check this out:

    http://www.marksdailyapple.com/fiber/

    Aaron wrote on March 11th, 2008
  17. Wow,
    You people are anal.
    How much fiber is in fois gras?

    Party pooper wrote on March 20th, 2008
  18. Why avoid corn? The only part of the corn that remains in the stool is the indigestible outer husk, which as far as I’m aware has no real negative effects on the digestive system.

    Forthac wrote on March 20th, 2008
  19. check out this home installed bidet.
    http://www.lubidet.com

    works great and easy to install.
    we love it.
    great company with excellent service.

    laura wrote on June 9th, 2008
  20. Since Ive been low-carbing I now find soluble fiber constipating. Bran though is intestinal hell. Ive noticed stool consistency to be more messy when veggies or fruits are consumed, and much worse with grains (or junk food). Even V8 juice clogs, though salads are ok. Meat is where its at for digestion – everything is well formed and mostly odorless.

    Btw — I once ate nothing but munster cheese for 5 days as an experiment. I was neither constipated nor had diarrhea. Energy was a little lower though.

    =]

    shadowpoodle wrote on May 14th, 2009
  21. Oopps! Looks like I’ve got a problem. Pre-paleo I’d go once a day, same time every day. I used to eat a heap of fruit in my pre-paleo days. Since I’ve gone paleo I now only go every three days at the most frequent and often only once a week. They a super huge when they do come – often blocking the toilet. I get huge sense of relief too! I don’t know what to do. Veges don’t seem to help. I tried psyllium husks but my poop comes out undigested.

    Does anyone have any pointers?

    Tin Tin wrote on December 12th, 2009
  22. I also have problems with large poops that sink & block the toilet. I don’t get enough fiber in my diet, at all. Anybody have any ideas?

    non optimal pooper wrote on March 11th, 2010
  23. This was extremely informative and humorous at the same time. Mark, you are the best!

    Primal Toad wrote on June 8th, 2010
  24. I’ve been paleo for over a year and just started suffering from constipation after eliminating flax from my diet. I can keep regular with dandelion tea but this doesn’t seem ideal to me. I find it disturbing that Mark seems to extol the benefits of fiber despite the evidence of several cultures who ate very little fiber. I just don’t buy that Grok was eating a bunch of raw leafy greens. His taste buds couldn’t have been much different than ours. What is the secret to having healthy bowels if you were to eat like the inuits who ate very little fiber at all? Anybody had their bouts with constipation after going paleo/low carb and lived to tell about it? Thank you!

    Brad wrote on September 3rd, 2010
    • if you JUST cut the flax your body probably needs some time to adapt.

      I used to suffer frequently, but not since I started the PB way of eating. I think consuming sufficient fat makes all the difference.

      Ely wrote on September 3rd, 2010
    • I agree with Ely; just take some time to adapt, if you’re going low-carb for weight loss. If not, you can get all the fiber you need from veggies.

      Ben wrote on September 3rd, 2010
  25. Mark, I wish you would revise this article a bit. There is NO WAY Grok was eating 6-12 servings of veggies a day and who knows about access to the fruit. This is unrealistic…

    As for poop floating? Never seen a floater in my life and I’m gloriously healthy on the PB way of life for over 5 years and a nurse who’s built a company teaching others the Paleo way of eating….

    Most of my clients tell me their bowels slow down almost immediately upon starting Paleo…but they are NOT constipated….and they feel great. And I assure you, they are NOT eating 6-12 servings of veggies a day. In a perfect “Utopian” world, yes. In the real world….nope. Good fats (we use Coconut oil mostly) yes….!!!

    Wendy wrote on November 13th, 2010
    • Wendy, as a modern forager-in-training, I was surprised to learn edible plants, especially greens, are EVERYWHERE. It may not be what you see in the supermarket, but if you know what you’re looking for and don’t live in a desert, it would be very easy to find that much veg a day.

      Randi wrote on January 27th, 2013
  26. I’ve recently switched over to full primal and I’ve been eating a lot of onions (cooked) in every meal. I get plenty of other veggies and meat and a piece of fruit here and there. Lately my movements have been really thin, ridiculously long, and extremely irritating to that most holey of holes. I’m wondering if it’s the onion that could be causing this as it is the most acidic thing I eat. Aside from this issue (which frankly is becoming a real pain in the arse) I feel better and have more energy than ever before. Tak mine venner.

    joe wrote on January 17th, 2011
  27. Thanks for this post. I am struggling with my poop at the moment. I have been eating mostly raw veggies. Should I switch to cooked?

    Marc wrote on March 2nd, 2011
    • If you’re struggling I suggest you read Fiber Menace.
      You dont have to buy the book to get an idea of what’s going on.

      http://www.gutsense.org Fiber Menace

      His videos used to be on his website but he moved it onto YouTube to make it more available for the puplic.

      Suvetar wrote on April 5th, 2011
  28. Poop only floats when it has fat in it. If you’re pooping out that much fat, then you’ve had too much fat and not enough fiber. Yes, it’s possible.

    Yay poop!

    Libby wrote on April 3rd, 2011
  29. I eat a meat based diet and poop comes out in soft oval shaped balls…1 after another. They sink but the speed of which they sink is like dropping a feather. Very pleasant…unnoticable when at the same time e.g. reading an article on the toilet…I have to double check if I just went because it happens without feeling a thing. :-)

    I eat a plant based diet (not grains) poop becomes more like a sausage, is slightly larger and sinks to the bottom of the toilet and digestion is slower…it takes 2 additional days to move it through my bowles.
    Example of plants: lettuce with tomatoes.

    I eat grains and the entire system starts to collapse. No bowel movements sometimes for weeks (2-3 weeks) and when it finally makes it to the end it comes out HUGE, clumped up and dry and sinks like a rock. Not to mention the pain and time it takes to make this monster finally appear in the toilet.

    Suvetar wrote on April 5th, 2011
  30. Yall should really try colonics. I have a very clean and empty colon. I use 2 suffer but no more.

    Mary wrote on May 28th, 2011
  31. I was going 2 times a day before going primal. I’ve only been primal for about 6 weeks, so I may just need to give it more time. But I’m only going once every few days now. I never feel bloated or constipated…just nothing happening.

    Does anyone have any luck with a good pro biotic? I work for a chiropractic clinic and we stock Dr. Mercola’s brand. I am going to pick some up today and see how that works. I tried eating a serving of kefir or plain yogurt in the mornings, but I can’t stand the taste….although it is a good way to get some protein in the mornings.

    Keven wrote on June 17th, 2011
  32. This might gross out the males, but females, listen up! I think there’s actually a reason we get gassy during that time of the month. I’ve found (when not using tampons) that it’s basically telling me to go to the bathroom and “push” everything out. There’s usually a lot of discharge, and that incoming feeling of cramping is GONE! Funny: true story – I don’t really need much more than a liner between these trips to the bathroom, even when it’s at its heaviest peak. I still get cramps when I use tampons… maybe that’s just nature’s way of expelling the stuff? You use the same (similar) muscle sets to make bowel movments that you do to get rid of the other stuff. Thoughts?

    Erin wrote on September 15th, 2011
    • I would agree with your thinking. Because the lining doesn’t all shed at once, it would make sense that your body would let you know when you need to go expel the biproducts. I mean, prior to modern civilizations inventions for keeping it under wraps, there had to be a fairly clean, easy way for a cave girl to take care of business.

      Sarah wrote on September 15th, 2011
  33. Oh mygod… So my boyfriend eats a SAD and MAAAAAAAAN he stinks up the joint every night. And it’s always an immediate “need to go” with him, and it’s always soft (or else I don’t think he would have invested $600 in a bidet toilet seat). When I’m around him, he seems to poop after every meal, not just once a day… And no, I can’t get him off the SAD. I eat Paleo & I cook dinner for him, so at least he gets one good meal in him a day. *sigh*… better than 0, I suppose.

    Mel wrote on September 15th, 2011
  34. This is the most disgusting article I’ve ever read here.

    Peter wrote on November 21st, 2011
  35. I’ve eaten a horrible diet for forever and have had horrible IBS symptoms for about 15 years. I’ve done paleo for about two weeks now and only go every few days and came to your site because I was terrified that something was wrong when they were thinner and floating. I’m so grateful you brought up this uncomfortable topic so I have some piece of mind.

    Danyel wrote on January 20th, 2012
  36. This was hilarious.

    Hum Eye of the Tiger… I am going to try that. LOL

    GlitterCity wrote on February 6th, 2012
  37. I’m on the toilet and it freaking hurts. And don’t lol, it’s not a laughing matter.

    Amber wrote on March 10th, 2012
  38. I’m surprised nobody’s mentioned squatting yet. Squatting to poo makes the whole thing easier and faster. *definitely* avoid high handicapped-stall toilets if you don’t need them. Westerners (esp Americans) poop in a different position from most of the world, and we also have the most hemorrhoids.
    Basically, things like reading and straining are bad. If you’re moistening a piece of toilet paper to wipe with, that’s nice and gentle, but if you’re buying moist towelettes, you’re wasting your money on literally being anal retentive, and the chemicals in it are likely to irritate your bum.

    LC wrote on March 16th, 2012
  39. When I went on the Whole 30, I have been constipated to no end. I eat a lot of leafy greens, bell peppers, tomatoes, green beans, broccoli, carrots and celery, cucumbers. I reintroduced fruit in the last couple of days (21 days in) in the hopes of moving things through. I have had a piece of 70% cacao chocolate every day, and 2 tables spoons of apple cider vinegar (Yoder’s Good Health recipe, yummy), still with no results. I did take an ex-lax and that worked to some degree (this was after 4 days, but I did not poop out 4 days worth). Maybe one days worth. I am very frustrated. PS…I Love the no grains. I used to be very hot natured with super hot feet. I hated to wear shoes. Since stopping grains, I do not have those symptoms. When I do eat grains, I notice I am hungry and want to continue eating all day..On paleo I don’t have those cravings.

    Janet wrote on March 22nd, 2012
  40. Really glad to read some of the comments here. :) Before I went paleo I had very regular bowel movements, every morning, and occasionally later in the day as well..I was just happy with them. Ever since starting paleo though, I don’t poop nearly as much. Maybe once every 2-3 days, which is super weird for me. It’s not uncomfortable though, it’s a more…smooth consistency when it comes out? I’m a little concerned about toxins festering in my body, and sometimes I get a bit of gas, idk, it’s just different.

    Cristina wrote on May 22nd, 2012

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