What does your poo say about your health?

Poo isn’t something we talk about openly and for many it is a bit of a taboo subject. Did you know the average person generates about five TONS of poo in his or her lifetime? But knowing what’s normal and what’s not can tell a lot about your overall health, from how your gastrointestinal tract is functioning, to giving you clues about serious diseases such as infections, digestive problems, and even cancer.

So, how do you know if your poo is normal?

Firstly, you need to take a look in the toilet after each bowel movement. Then you can compare your poo to a very handy chart. The Bristol Stool Scale, also known as the Meyers Chart, was developed by Dr Stephen Lewis, a consultant gastroenterologist with a major interest in nutrition, and Dr Ken Heaton at the University of Bristol and first published in 1997. It is a chart with 7 poo types and defines the shape and consistency of bowel movements, therefore enabling you to compare your poo to different times in your health.

The 7 different poo types are as follows:

  Type 1 – Separate hard lumps - you are very constipated.
Type 2 – Lumpy and sausage like – you are slightly constipated.
Type 3 – Sausage shaped with cracks in the surface – normal.
Type 4 – Like a smooth and soft snake or sausage – normal.
Type 5 – Soft blobs with clear-cut edges – lacking fibre.
Type 6 – Mushy consistency with ragged edges – inflammation.
Type 7 – Liquid consistency with no solid pieces – inflammation.

You should be aiming for type 3 or type 4 on the Bristol Stool scale and this will at least give you some visual awareness of whether your poo is normal or not.

If you regularly experience types of poo other than 3 or 4, you may want to discuss this with your GP to rule out any underlying health issues.

If you are living with any type of bowel or gastrointestinal issues, why not talk with others in our talkbowel patient discussion forum or talkIBS patient discussion forum.

Sources used in writing this article are available on request

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Next review: 19 January 2020