HEALTH CENTER

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Bowel Movements by Christie Hayes

christieRegular bowel movements are a way to ensure a healthy GI tract and good eating habits. Although it’s a bit taboo to talk about, the color, texture, smell, and frequency of bowel movements can tell you so much about your body. Ideally, a person will have a bowel movement at least once a day. For some, normal is only three times a week.  Figure out what is normal for you. If things feel different such as bloating, nausea, or you cannot have a bowel movement for more than four days, it’s best to see a physician.  So what is your stool telling you?

Texture

Anti-depressants, histamines, blood pressure medications, high dairy diets, and dehydration can all contribute to dry and hard stools. Lumpy stool can be caused by lack of fiber, fluids, and high protein diets. Movements that are very “liquidy” are the result of food moving too quickly through the GI tract. A sudden influx of fiber or an infection can cause diarrhea. If your bowel movements come out pencil thin, you may have polyps or a colon blockage. The best ones are fluffy. They are moderately sized and pass through your system with ease.

Color

If have green stool, you’ve either been very good about eating green vegetables or food may be moving too quickly through your system. White or clay colored stool equates to a lack of bile (perhaps a bile obstruction) or a large intake of bismuth subsalicylate, such as Pepto-Bismal. Yellow, greasy stool means you’ve had too much fat in your system. The fat in your food has not been properly absorbed by your GI tract. Black stool can require a doctor’s visit because there is likely a bleed in the upper GI tract (unless you have been taking iron supplements or Pepto-Bismol).  Fruit punch Kool-Aid, or other foods high in red food coloring, can cause bright red stool. However, red stool is usually a sign of a lower intestinal bleed or hemorrhoids.

Nobody likes to talk about them, but everybody has them. You can learn a lot about your health from what you flush down the toilet.

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/frequent-bowel-movements/my00786

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/stool-color/AN00772

The information provided is for general interest only and should not be misconstrued as a diagnosis, prognosis or treatment recommendation. This information does not in any way constitute the practice of medicine, or any other health care profession. Readers are directed to consult their health care provider regarding their specific health situation. Marque Medical is not liable for any action taken by a reader based upon this information.