Is Your Poop Normal?

Is Your Poop Normal What Your bowel movements can tell you about your health Is Your Poop Normal?

Note From Katie: Please welcome Jordan Reasoner from SCDLifestyle.com! I’ve gotten a lot of emails about digestive health, autoimmune disease, and the gut connection, and he is super qualified to help with this topic! Enter Jordan:

“All living things eat, so Everyone Poops.” – Everyone Poops by Taro Gomi

Who hasn’t read that literary masterpiece to their kids at some point along the way?  As parents, we spend the first 3-5 years of our children’s lives handling poop.  Every.  Single.  Day.  Poop.

Between diaper changes and snack time, it’s easy to forget about our own poop. And if your house is anything like mine, most bathroom breaks usually involve an unexpected toddler wandering in for the party. But if we actually stop and take a look in the toilet bowl… our poop can be a very real indication of our overall health.

What Your Poop is Telling You

We all poop. It’s one of the few reminders we get about our health on a (hopefully) daily basis and yet, we don’t pay much attention to it. Not only that, but we also don’t like to talk about it. In our culture, sometimes it’s easier to talk to people about sex than poop.

But the truth is: if you’re not pooping right… something could be terribly wrong inside your body.

For example, recent research suggests that your brain and the good bacteria in your gut communicate directly, influencing your mood, your immune system, and your inflammation (1) (2).

Next, there’s good short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) in your colon, which have anti-inflammatory effects and increase insulin sensitivity (3).

Most of us spend the time and energy to consume healthy, non-GMO, organic food.  But are we digesting it well?  Are we breaking down and absorbing those nutrients well?  The quality of your poop is a direct indication of how well you’re digesting your food.

If you’re poop isn’t healthy, your digestive tract is either moving too slow or too fast… which can lead to an increased risk of developing chronic health conditions like neurological disease, autoimmune disease and chronic inflammatory conditions.

Think of your poop like the annoying chirping sound your smoke detector makes when the battery is low.  It’s relentlessly letting you know the battery is low… and if you don’t do something about it, your house could burn down (with you and your family in it).

However if you’re pooping well… it could be an indication your body is relatively healthy and a good sign you’re winning when it comes to health.

Where Does Your Poop Stack Up?

There’s four critical elements to a perfect poop. If you’ve ever had one… you know how amazing they are. But if you’re not sure, take this quiz and see where you stack up.

1. How often do you poop?

The research suggests you should poop every day.  In fact, the range of “normal” is typically 1-3 times a day.  Poop is waste and you need to get rid of it every single day to make sure that you’re properly removing toxins and other waste material that’s gotta go.  Many people have a bowel movements every time they eat.

The bottom line: If you find yourself pooping a couple times a week… or going 5+ times a day, you’re at risk of health problems.

2. Are You Pushing Too Hard?

How easy is it for you to poop?  It’s normal in our culture to take a newspaper or read a magazine for a half hour, battling to win the poop fight. But the reality is that a “normal” poop shouldn’t take but a few minutes.  It should also be easy. This isn’t childbirth. Pushing typically leads to hemorrhoids which are all too common today but not normal.

The bottom line: Normal poops strike a balance between not having to push or strain, but also not having so much urgency you barely can hold it. If you’re spending 10+ minutes on the toilet or running to make it just in time, you’re not having normal bowel movements.

3. Does Your Poop Look Like a Snake?

The most important part of a “normal” poop is the quality, so part of this quiz requires you to look down and see what’s really going on. Thankfully, the folks at the University of Bristol published a study in the Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology, gifting us with the Bristol Stool Chart (4).

Here it is in all its glory:

Bristol Stool Chart Is Your Poop Normal?

Start sizing up your recent BM’s with the knowledge that anything between a 1-3 is considered constipated, while 6’s and 7’s are considered diarrhea.

The bottom line: A “normal” poop is “like a sausage or a snake, smooth and soft.  If your poops aren’t looking 4ish… you’re not normal.

4: Are you getting it all out?

For some people this is a non-issue… but part of a “normal” poop is having what’s so eloquently referred to as a “full evacuation.” Are you getting all your poop out in one swift motion?  Do you have to keep coming back to finish the job? Or do you feel like there’s always something left behind lingering and making you feel uncomfortable?

The bottom line: A “normal” poop is a complete poop. If you never quite feel the relief I’m talking about here… you’re not having ideal bowel movements.

How to Improve Your Poop

If your poop isn’t normal based on the quiz above, we know your digestive health isn’t what it should be. So here’s a few tips to improve your digestive health and get closer to perfect poops.

1.  Eat Real Food

The biggest mistake we see is people that claim to eat healthy, but they’re still consuming things like grains, soy, and table sugar.  Stick to eating real food.  It’s one of the most important changes anyone with digestive problems can make.

If you’re someone who’s struggling with constipation or diarrhea, a diet like the Specific Carbohydrate Diet can help heal your gut and get control of your symptoms. The most important thing you can do is listen to what your poop is telling you and continue to make changes to improve the food you’re eating.

2.  Eat Good Bugs

Our gut has a TON of bacteria, and a healthy gut flora is critical for healthy poop. Consume good bugs every single day. Start with foods like sauerkrautkombucha or water kefir and see how well you tolerate them. A high quality probiotic is one supplement that can also boost the immune system in the gut and improve digestive health.

3.  Eat More Fat

Fat has a direct impact on peristalsis… the waves our bodies make to get rid of poop.  Fat can be extremely helpful for people who are constipated.  Increase your healthy fats from sources like coconut oil, animal fat, olive oil, and fermented cod liver oil.  Or drink this coffee.

If you took this quiz and aren’t having “normal” poops right now, try these three changes for 30-days and see how you feel. The best part about poop is that you’ll keep doing it, so you have regular signs of whether or not things are improving.

jordan profile pic 500px 150x150 Is Your Poop Normal?About the Author: Jordan Reasoner is a health engineer, author, and consultant. Celiac Disease almost took his life in 2007, but he transformed his health using the Specific Carbohydrate Diet and started SCDLifestyle.com to help others naturally overcome digestive problems and enjoy perfect poops.

How does your poop stack up? Is it healthy or need some work? TMI? Share below!

Reader Comments

  1. Amber Finkelstein says

    Strange as it feels to say (I tend to avoid talking about poop), thank you for the article, and the tips to help normalize. Very helpful!

  2. Karen says

    Thank you for this!!! I do notice that when I eat Real meals, type 4 no problem. But after I eat that junk food, awful, awful problems begin. I guess it’s nice to have a constant reminder of the consequences of my choices. This chart is also helpful because now I know what I’m supposed to be looking for and when I’m supposed to be looking for it. Thanks again!

  3. Irene Tiger says

    Very interesting,,,sorry, I don’t feel like sharing the results of the quiz, bit I did have chronic diarrhea for years until I went on a grain free diet

  4. Lousi says

    You’re right … this is hard to talk about, but I do have a question. I go in the morning only, and it starts off as 4, but then I’ll go maybe about 5 minutes later, and it will be a 5. Then I’ll go again and it will be a 6. Basically, I will go 3-6 times in the morning and then not again for the rest of the day. I don’t eat junk food, organic as much as possible, drink water (probably not enough, though). I consume dairy (cream in coffee, yogurt). Any ideas?

    • Amy Taylor says

      I had the same problem when I was starting my day with caffeine (either coffee or tea). When I eliminated caffeine, they normalized. Caffeine is a stimulant, which causes your body to speed up the digestive process, making you poop faster.

  5. Elaine says

    As a parent of a toddler who is often constipated (type 2 mostly), this is helpful. She has been this way since infancy. We’ve tried a lot but I really don’t want her dependent on Miralax. We have an appointment with GI in two months and this article has me thinking about options to try before the visit. Thanks!

    • Jennifer L. says

      My toddler seems to have poops that are in the 2-3 range, but she goes every day and passes it without straining–her poops are always fast and clean to wipe. I am not sure what to make of it. Too many blueberries? Raw cheese? Too much salt? I’ve tried various probiotics, but we haven’t seemed to find one that works. She does not usually eat grains or beans, but I kind of wonder if she needs beans or something else? She isn’t too big on eating vegetables, but she does eat some. What does your toddler eat?

      • Emily Kirsch says

        Cheese is very constipating. There’s no need for beans in anyone’s diet. Does she eat plenty of meat and fat and veggies and fruits, especially raw produce and dark leafy greens?

        • Jennifer L. says

          She eats meat, fruit, some cooked vegetables, but no, my nearly 2 year old doesn’t seem interested in the dark leafy greens, yet. She’ll eat some raw cucumber, bell pepper, squashes, sweet potato, and broth made with lots of veggies.

    • Lisbeth Laursen says

      You might also want to read sections in the book “Gut And Psychology Syndrome” about constipation. It is written by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride and is relevant also for people not having any psychological problems as it is all about digestion. Best regards, Lisbeth

  6. Kyla Dunham says

    Awesome! This is helpful, because now I know have an idea of which foods to eat more of vs less of. I have a question about fats… I totally get that we need tons of fat, but I get constipated when I eat it. I don’t understand why, it makes me really frustrated, because I know I need the fat. I only eat organic, unrefined, healthy fats. Any ideas?

  7. eb says

    and, uh, what about clean up?
    Is anything other than a single, perfectly clean wipe considered healthy? Is the ease of clean-up or number of wipes something that we can read into? Do less wipes indicate healthier poops?

  8. Jenny says

    This wasn’t directly discussed in this post, but do you know what the normal frequency of bowel movements is for an infant? My son is 7 months old and he will go days without having a bowel movement. He is exclusively breastfed, and I have periodically given him probiotics, rubbed magnesium lotion on his feet, given him epsom salt baths, and rubbed castor oil on his abdomen, all in an effort to get him to poop! When he does go, the consistency is right, so this is just a frequency issue. Any ideas? I don’t know if this is something to be concerned about, or if he is ok and will become more regular when we start solids.

    • Adrienne says

      Hi Jenny, I saw your post & wanted to assure you that it is VERY normal for a breastfed baby to days without pooping!! I was worried my son was constipated (he was breastfed also) & called his pedi, as he hadn’t pooped in 2 days at this point. Doc said it is perfectly normal for them to do that! He also said they aren’t constipated just because they aren’t pooping. You can tell when they are constipated because they will poop solid little pebble like turds. Hope I could be of some help! If your son still doesn’t poop for awhile & it’s concerning for you, you can always stick the tip of a lubricated thermometer in his bum & wiggle it around a bit. This will stimulate a BM.

    • Tammy says

      He might b lacking the ingredient in breast milk that helps babies poop take him to a chiropractor and tell them he’s not pooping right and that u want to try the powder form of the ingredient that is in breast milk that helps babies poop it works cuz my daughter was formula fed and wasn’t pooping right and I used that powdered stuff and before I was even done giving her the whole bottle of the powder stuff she was going normally on her own the powder is like $32 for just a lil jar of it but it was worth it to help my baby go poop on her own

  9. Carrie Ferguson says

    Hey that was a great article! I’ve always had a problem with constipation (type 1&3 poop), stomach cramps and bloating, alrhough my diet is now pretty amazing- it still continues. I’m going to try coconut oil and water kefir. Although I have a strong suspicion I have IBS.
    Thanks again :-)

  10. lwolfe99 says

    I have been chronically constipated since I was a kid. I eat very clean, grain free, very, very little sugar, low carb, eat lots of healthy fats like coconut oil, and regularly consume kefir that I make and kombucha. I am an athlete and am what has been referred to as “fat adapted”, in that I run in a fasted state and no longer depend on carbs for fuel. I feel great and all that, but am still chronically on the constipated side. Since I started making and using daily transdermal vitamin C (I think I learned about it on this site!) it has gotten a bit better. But it really seems nothing I do completely normalizes my pooping to type 4. I think it might be something structural or genetic, but am not sure what. Any ideas?

    • medreyer says

      my husband went to a nurse practitioner who told him you could tell if you were getting enough fiber in your diet by your poop floating. Is this true?

    • Dee says

      I’ve been doing a lot of research on Magnesium for my own health issues and have read that most people are deficient and don’t know It. Do some research. Supplementing might be your answer. Good Luck!

      • lwolfe99 says

        I have been making my own mg oil as per the recipe offered on this website, for the past few months. The main change I noticed since then is that my recovery time from intense exercise has decreased considerably and my muscles just don’t get sore like they used to.

  11. medreyer says

    I have been told by a nurse practitioner that if you are getting enough fiber in your diet your poop will float. Is this true?

  12. Charmaine Taylor says

    DD has been struggling with Type 6 more than having Type 4. We eat Paleo/SCD, and offer her more fats like grass fed butter and coconut oil. I’m wondering if I should hold off on them now since I read in the comments about this type meaning poorly digested fats. She does have un-digested foods too, which I was chalking up to not properly chewing her food. Hmmm. I’m thinking food and elimination diary are in order. She’s had eczema for a year now that vanished when we switched our diet in the summer. The patch was on the skin above her liver.

  13. Jefferson says

    Some interesting info .. Thanks for sharing.

    No matter what I say here, It is going to come out gross.
    (no pun intended)

    FWIW.. I have noticed that my poo is much “happier” when I eat clean.

    • Lisbeth Laursen says

      According to Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride (GAPS) it has to do with the density of the food and should not be something to worry about – that is how I have understood it – but better check the info yourself as I am no specialist

  14. sarah says

    Well :/ I always poop 2&3′S sometime 1′s. And when I poop 4s I worry bc I think it is not normal! Thanks for the chart although I am kinda worried now. I always though my poop was normal and having snakes meant something went wrong in my stomach!

  15. Heather says

    I’ve had constipation issues my entire life. I cut out dairy and went gluten free (after testing) a few years ago. I limited my gluten free bread and pasta intake and increased my raw fruit and vegetable intake. Everything was going through the plumbing fine until about a year ago, I began to have IBS type symptoms. After discussing with my naturopathic doctor, I went on a yeast elimination diet. That corrected the problem.

  16. AK says

    Interestingly, I have found when I eat less healthy, ie sugar, caffeine, bread, very few vegetables I actually have very regular and healthy poop. I have tried to go weeks eating healthy ie vegetables, little or no grain, little to no sugar and I end up constipated every time, even after weeks of eating healthy. I drink lots of water with both diets. It’s wierd.

    • Manne says

      AK! I was looking for someone who might have this issue! I am the same. 31 days ago, I switched to the Paleo diet. After 6 days, I went to the auto-immune protocol Paleo diet. I eat a ton of veggies and fruit, a good amount of meat, lots of coconut and olive oil, and water. Now my movements are way less “satisfying”. Before my change, I was the picture of “happy” movements. Sigh. I am sure it has something to do with my gut being healed, and I will need to add some probiotics, but I really do miss a good bathroom visit. Not so much the crappy way I used to feel. And the extra 8 pounds around my tummy, either. Ha! :-) Thanks for sharing….especially about this topic….

  17. Ben says

    I probably go 4 times a day (more than normal) but I credit that to still drinking whole milk and eating black beans occasionally. I am typically done in under 45 secs when I go and have had clean (not having to wipe) poops for a week straight. That is how I know my diet is dialed in

  18. Kris says

    So i do drink a lot of soda and Ive read and will try to cut that out and drink water. My stool is a 4 but the main problem is that i will pass my bowels and feel relieved, but 20 minutes later i get the feeling to go again. Its not an emergency that i feel to go but i will watch my stool and see what happens.

    • Kris says

      ok so ive gone again and it was like those snakes you light on the 4th of july. watery like diarrhea and smelled pretty bad. do i need to be concerned?

  19. Chand says

    Hi

    I go to toilet in the morning and again I need to go second time. I can see in my poop that the food is not digested properly. If I stay at home it’s fine if am travelling I feel nervous. I think I am not having good appetite. From one year I am suffering from gastrointestinal trouble.

  20. Dregon says

    You know that saying “An opinion is like an asshole, everyone’s got one”. We’ll with that being said, I’ve learned one thing from this…do not read the comment section.

  21. Melanie S Petak says

    I have s serious problem I believe. I only poop once a week, usually on Mondays I know that sounds crazy but its true. However this past Monday I did not poop. I know I dont eat right but I should still poop. Sometimes I have really bad diarrhea, last week I went on Tuesday and it was diarrhea, I went to the ER gor severe excruciating pain in my lower back it felt like my kidneys. Sure enough after blood work and a cat scan I have multiple kidney stones both sides. I still have them today. This problem with my poop concerns me more, it has been this way for years. What should I do? Or who should I see for this crazy poop situation.

  22. Laurie says

    Love your visuals. I use to have 4′s most of the time but like a couple of others above since I have been low carb (2 years) and now adding animal fats back to my diet, I’m more 5, which wasn’t really mentioned. I go 2 or 3 times a day and it comes right out and feels very complete and satisfying, but it’s like pebbles. Occasionally a 4 but most often a 5. I eat veggies all day and take a pro-biotic and resistant starch. I just don’t get it. Any help appreciated (or maybe there’s nothing wrong)

  23. lynna says

    this wasn’t addressed: i feel the overwhelming urge to go but when i actually sit down nothing wants to come out, like i don’t have to even go anymore. it’s really annoying. and my poop ranges from 1-4 on that scale above when i go normally. i drink plenty of water, but i am an erratic eater; basically i eat when i want to. i just don’t work well on an “eating schedule.”

  24. John says

    I haven’t been pooping normal at all recently. When I do it comes out in either decently smoothly or often recently in a sharting disgusting fashion which concerns me. What specific health concerns am I facing? It feels as if my digestive system is off as well. When I eat certain foods it doesnt take down well and my stomach rumbles weirdly as if its struggling to process it. My sister and brother are allergic to gluten and I thought I may be allergic but havent seen a doctor yet. I feel like my situation is worse than I though now that I saw this page. Please get back to me asap!

  25. Lara says

    But what if I do my BMs just and just everytime I feel it and get a sausage with cracks? Im really concerned im only 13 , and its always clean and complete with relief..

  26. Kay says

    Thanks for the info and great chart!
    I didn’t see a response to the one who does not have a clean finish and has to wipe a lot afterwards. I have this problem in the mornings, but when I have movements in the afternoons, I don’t. In fact, I have a very satisfying clean finish then. Sorry to be so graphic, but the morning problem is that there is a very sticky, thick consistency, and the last bit won’t drop off, so clean up is problematic, and takes quite a while and a lot of toilet paper. I also use either a neem gel, a neem lotion, or a handsoap to get perfectly clean. This makes traveling, and especially camping, complicated.

    I also took a couple of antibiotics that caused severe problems with anal area skin irritation and severely chapped lips. When I stopped taking the antibiotic, the anal problem healed itself, but the terribly chapped lips have remained for many years. I finally found a goat yogurt that has helped – not a complete recovery, but quite a relief.

  27. Wael says

    Thanks for that, me also i was wondering to who can i talk to about this, but this topic helped to discussion. As i was looking in the chart mine is like 5 and its been a while since my stomachs started to feel not normal but i keep on saying it will be fine and until now and number 5 is there, i did go to doctor and he gave me some pills and now i stop the pills and its been a month or more but still its 5, what would be the problem, ? any one did have that. Thanks

  28. Sherry says

    I have and have always had a serious problem with doing the number 2 since i was a little girl. I go up to 5 weeks without making a bowel movment, and this aint just an every once in awhile thing, after 4 or 5 weeks, i might go, but it hurts so bad, and i grunt and push and rock back and forth, and it still dont comeout, i know this sounds sickening, but many times i’ve had to put gloves on and dig it out.. it has felt like i’ve turned my butt inside out for it to comeout, then i’ve been scared to death that i’ve pulled out my intestines. I’ve takin enemas, but dont work, so i’ll take another one bout 10 min later, still dont help, so i’ve taken exlax, just different things. But like i said, once i do go after all them weeks… then it’s another 3 to 4 weeks before i could go again, i’ve felt like i’ve needed to go ot hospital forit … but it is so bad, that i cant walk, you can tell its right there, but it just wont come out. Im very scared, when i was younger it didnt worry me, but im almost 47 now and i feel like it’s gonna be the thing to kill me. I had a friend die from this. I gotta have a colonoscophy done in july, so i know i’ll be goin thrn cause i gota get a bunch of things to drink that will cleear me out. But that’s not somethin i’d wanna do every week cause i feel that can be harmful to. Is there anything at all that you might be able to give me any advise on that could help me and keep me regular? i would really appreciate it

  29. Jay says

    what if i’ve been having 1/6-7 for the last week or two? i have a bm every day but i feel like i haven’t actually had a real bm…

  30. coco says

    I poop every 3 days straight 3x those 3 days after 4-6 days of not pooping. First it comes out as type 1 then type 3 and last type 4. I eat regularly and drink lots of water. Sometimes when I drink a bottle full of cold water all at once it makes me go poop in a rush.

  31. Abel Garcia says

    Well mine is a 4 on the poop chart but it’s only one maybe 4inch piece. I only go once a day and I don’t feel like I have to go. I just don’t think I’m pooping enough. Like I’m not getting it all out and my lower abdomen feels abnormal.

  32. MAYANK says

    Not able to decide what kind of poop I am doing. SO could you help me out.
    Whenever I eat my Breakfast, lunch or dinner, I feel that I need to go to washroom. But it isn,t correct everytime. I am not able eat according to my hunger. Normally little bit less.
    What to do ?

  33. Rini says

    I really liked this post. People hesitate and dislike taking a look at their poo before flushing but it is very essential. Most of the health issues can be judged with the texture and the color of the poo.
    Thanks for this post and i will make a point to share with my friends and family too.

    The post with Oil remedies is also good. I have been using castor oil for cracked heels, lips and acnes too. I massage daily with castor oil during summers which helps bring my body temperature bit down and i don’t feel too hot. I drink castor oil once a week to cleanse my system, it works miracle. If the stomach is clean then there entire mood changes and the skin glows. Castor oil is detoxifying.
    I use Coconut oil(virgin, used in cooking) as a sun block, it works better than the sun screens, it just leaves the skin a little reddish which can be removed easily again by applying coconut oil on the face and massaging it, finally cleaning it off with a little of gram flour. Coconut oil works great as a cleanser, far better than the cleansing products available in market. I apply 2-3 drops of coconut or castor oil again after washing my face with flour so the face doesn’t over dry. I have a combination skin which is troublesome most of the times.
    And the milk uses you wrote works nice, it is good in cleaning dirt from skin, and moisturizing too. I put milk eye pads which reduces dark circles.
    Thank you for the remedies.

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