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)

Everyone 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

Subscribe to Mark’s Daily Apple feeds

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. 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
  2. This was hilarious.

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

    GlitterCity wrote on February 6th, 2012
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. 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
  7. Cristina,
    As a former grain eater, I was very regular, going at least 2-3 times per day. The lack of grains seems to slow down peristalsis, for sure. When I cut them out, nothing really changed until about three months into the lifestyle. Then I started having challenges, and sometimes I didn’t feel the urge at all. I just stay hydrated as much as I can, and take magnesium supplements. I hope eventually I will adjust to this, and see it as normal. Oh, I do eat meat, but too much red meat is what seems to be causing a problem. That’s OK, because I can’t afford the healthy grass-fed beef anyway. I am going to try having red meat only once per week, and rely on turkey, chicken and fish more.

    Lynn wrote on May 27th, 2012
  8. That’s funny SH.T!!! Thanks!!

    Angela wrote on May 30th, 2012
  9. I am fairly new to Paleo eating but have come to a conclusion about how my body responds and how to correct colon issues. I too had constipation in the first few weeks but found that if I stopped coffee and drank bone broth (home made fantastic stuff – high fat content), I had no problem and all is much better than anytime in my life. Thanks

    Robin C wrote on November 8th, 2012
  10. Ancient post, but there ARE some more recent comments.

    Ironically, for someone who’s been GF nearly a decade – and Primal/Palaeo for 6 years – I’ve developed Crohn’s disease and, primarily due to the high-strength iron tabs, and an opioid herb I take for analgesia, I’m almost permanently ‘clogged up’. I can’t eat a lot of veggies/fruit, as they overload my digestive system. All my GP will give me is Dulcolax (I’ve had both types – picosulphate AND bisacodyl – and they make me VERY ill (nauseous – even more than ‘normal’ – tired, achy and I generally feel like crap) and lactulose (and THAT makes me feel like I’m going to hurl because it’s so glutinous and sweet and, since going Palaeo, I’ve lost my sweet tooth). Right now, I’m letting rip like a good’un (think I must have released the same amount of methane as about a dozen cows today already – and it’s only 1:50pm!) but I figure that, if I’m passing gas, then at least things may EVENTUALLY start moving – but, wow-wee, it’s noxious! Has anyone ever passed out from the stench of their own farts…?! If not, then I think I might just be about to make medical history!

    My GP INSISTED I see a dietician, who had me keep a food diary. When I returned to her after a couple of months, all I got was a lecture on how much saturated fat I was eating (butter, EVCO, lard were the main 3 tho, sadly, I’ve had to quit the EVCO as I began to feel really nauseous after eating it – I’m thinking about reintroducing a teaspoon a day (only thinking, cos I’m rather reluctant to try it again)).

    Anyway, stupid SBD (the ‘B’ stands for ‘British’ as you may have gathered) dietician woman didn’t know anything about EVCO, so she Googled it and – you guessed it! – she ignored all its myriad health benefits, homed in on the ‘92% saturated fat’, and proceeded to lecture me about the evils of dietary fat! Of course I simply switched off at that point…

    The next thing I was taken to task over was, of course, my egg consumption; even though proponents of a LFHC diet are beginning to realise eggs aren’t evil, she still firmly believed they were, and she ordered a cholesterol test (you can see where the story’s headed, can’t you…? ;oD). She gave me a prescription for 500g psyllium husk (of course I never picked it up! IBS was one of the main reasons that turned me Palaeo in the first place – that and the fact I was a blimp!).

    I’ve saved the best bit for last… I was idly chatting to her at the end of the consultation and I noticed she had a couple of Gillian McKeith raw fruit bars on the desk (for those who’ve never come across McKeith – and you’re the lucky ones, believe you me! – she’s a macrobiotic raw vegan with an unhealthy fixation with people’s poo! About 10 years ago, she had her own show in which she’d analyse people’s health by having them provide her with a s*it sample! It was axed when it was discovered she was using it as a vehicle to peddle her own range of MRV crap. About 18 months later it was also discovered that she had no right to call herself Dr. McKeith (that’s ‘doctor’ in the medical sense, not in the sense that she held a doctorate (she’d never even attended university!)).

    Anyway, just for kicks, I asked the SBD (also stands for ‘Stupid Dietician Bint’ as well as ‘Standard British Diet’!) what she thought people should be eating for optimum health and, when she started banging on about sprouted this, and raw that, it dawned on me that she WAS a MRV herself! I couldn’t believe it! Here was a woman who’d spent 4 years qualifying to become a dietician (albeit one who promotes LFHC) and she believes that optimum health comes is obtained by abstention from all animal products! I didn’t feel inclined to become embroiled in an argument re the lack of iron, B vitamins, vitamin A and calcium, so I just thanked her and left.

    Oh and the cholesterol test…? Yep, I went for it and – surprisingly – NOT! – it was stratospherically high! I asked my GP for a full analysis, but she told me she didn’t have the data, and couldn’t obtain it (why, I’ve not the foggiest…). Here in the UK, your cholesterol is either ‘high’, ‘normal’ or ‘low’, it’s never broken down into its constituents. The cynic in me says that’s so they can peddle more statins (indeed, the dept of ‘health’ has decreed that EVERYONE 50+ should be prescribed statins “as a precautionary measure”. The only precaution they’re taking is one to protect the £ms they receive in bungs from Big Pharma (I reckon weed is still illegal over here for the same reason; it’s a higher classification than benzodiazepines (Class B vs Class C) and I can only think that’s to prevent folk self-medicating – just think of the damage that would do to BP’s profits – and stock prices!).

    Let me give you a stark example: – I’ve a new FB friend and, the other day, I mentioned in a thread that I was LCHF Palaeo and she took me to task about the fat I was eating. She told me that her GP had told her she was “a fatal heart attack waiting to happen” and that if she didn’t significantly clean up her diet (and we all know what THAT means!) she’d not see 50 (she’s 50 in June). The only silver lining is that she’s not eligible for statins. I gave her the link for the Illustrated History of Heart Health’s timeline, and I hope she’s read it (she’s not been online since, so I’ve been unable to ask her). I just hope I can turn her around before her quack kills her!

    Anyway, back to talking crap. I’m drinking 200ml prune juice every night (took me a while to get over the fact that’s 36g of sugar!) and it’s helping a bit, but I’m STILL terribly ‘backed up’. It doesn’t help that I’ve been ravenously hungry of late (usually a sign I’m about to come on, but bugger all yet! >:o/ and also as someone else mentioned, I DO become gassier – and more constipated – at TOTM). If anyone sees this (doubtful!) I’d welcome suggestions… I’m NOT taking laxatives again!

    As for wipes, I use organic, biodegradable, fully-flushable, completely natural baby wipes. Not only do they suit my – ultra-sensitive – skin, they’re also more economical than moist toilet wipes (over here you get between 40 and 50 towelettes in a pack for around £3/$4.80, but the baby wipes I buy are £2.40 for 80).

    Sarah wrote on January 19th, 2013
  11. i used to be constipated all the time. sometimes up to a week. no fun and very painful. doc told me to eat more bran and yogurt, which was exactly what was causing the problem, after finally figuring it out myself many years later. going gluten and dairy free fixed the problem. too bad because i love yogurt/ kefir.

    Elisabeth wrote on April 23rd, 2013
  12. I have just in the last week begun to transition to a primal lifestyle and I have yet to have a non-runny poo event. I was wondering if this was normal for newcomers and that my body will adjust in time or if there is something wrong with the way I have been eating.

    Shane wrote on May 14th, 2013
  13. I was chronically constipated for about a decade before starting paleo, and also during.

    I was constipated when I was eating the SAD (Standard American Diet) and also while eating no grains, potatoes, or dairy and taking in very little carbs. The only thing that has worked for me – and by that I mean more or less cured me – whether or not I’m sticking to a paleo regimen, is to stay away from fructose.

    I ingest no fruit juice, HFCS, sucrose or whole fruit. My fructose intake is thus limited to the vegetables I eat.

    I can eat starch, grains, and even a small amount of dairy and as long as I’m highly lacking in that evil molecule, I’m almost as regular as a Swiss clock.

    Giving up juice was hard at first, but not for very long. I just wished I had discovered the connection far sooner.

    Patrick wrote on August 26th, 2013
  14. ANYONE have any advice? I have had hard pebble-like bowel movements for years now. It doesn’t seem to matter how much water I drink, or how many avocado and flax seeds I eat. I even just recently did a 7 day salt water cleanse, but when it was over I went right back to pebbles. I don’t know what else to do or what I’m doing wrong. A primal diet doesn’t seem to help enough.

    I’m wandering if it’s a gall bladder/bile issue. I also have soft pitted nails and mild acne breakouts no matter how well I eat. It’s frustrating.

    Christine wrote on October 11th, 2013
  15. That was so funny! :) I’ve had several stomach surgeries, so I know that most people take this kind of health for granted.

    New England wrote on December 23rd, 2013
  16. Hey,
    So basically the other day i ate so much food and to top it all off i went had 12 wings and ate is so quick that the next day my stomach was hurting and and i had to go to the toilet 3 times and passed a hell load of gas. But before that my stool used to come out like a snake but now it comes out in pieces. What can i do to turn it back to normal i eat alot of fibre but i dnt think i drink a lot of water i try that but im still having trouble passing gas sometimes for some reason for the other day.

    Kris wrote on February 5th, 2014
  17. I know this is an older topic, hopefully someone still reads it- I’ve been doing fairly well going about 70-80% primal eating. Since then seems like my stuff is too much on the soft side & difficult to clean up, if you know what I mean. I’ll poop nearly every day with ease. I’m suspecting maybe I need more variety of veggies- I’ll usually have salad-type veggies. Or less coffee- I’ll have around 4-6 (measuring) cups a day.

    Tommy wrote on January 24th, 2015
  18. Hello friends, nice article and pleasant commented here, I am truly enjoying by these.

    Clementina Dwellingham wrote on October 16th, 2015
  19. But please don’t flush those moist wipes – even if they say they’re “flushable”, your septic system or municipal wastewater treatment plant will thank you!

    Greg wrote on January 26th, 2016
  20. Hello I am so excited I found your web site, I really found you by error, while I was browsing on Askjeeve for something
    else, Anyhow I am here now and would just like to
    say many thanks for a tremendous post and a all round entertaining
    blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have
    time to go through it all at the minute but I have saved
    it and also added in your RSS feeds, so when I have time I
    will be back to read more, Please do keep up the great job.

    Elizbeth wrote on February 9th, 2016

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to add an avatar to all of your comments click here!

© 2016 Mark's Daily Apple

Subscribe to the Newsletter and Get a Free Copy
of Mark Sisson's Fitness eBook and more!