How Do You Poop?

How do you poop- what your bowels say about your health

It’s certainly not a glamorous topic, but what comes out of you can tell a lot about your internal health and even the posture that you use to “poop” can make a difference in how well you eliminate.

Intestinal health is a complex subject and many factors can affect how well or how often you use the restroom, but how it goes when you go can make a difference in your overall bowel health.

This is a subject that Mark Sisson has addressed a couple times, talking both about poop posture and texture/consistency. For the most part, a consistant real food diet and adequate sleep (to balance hormones) will keep things moving, but there are some factors you can optimize, especially if you suffer from constipation or digestive disorders.

I’ll attempt to make some suggestions in a classy way and keep the bathroom humor to a minimum! 🙂

Your Posture

If you didn’t think I was crazy already, this might change your mind…. from what I’ve read (and experienced) the position you are in while you are using the bathroom can make a big difference in the time it takes and how thoroughly you eliminate. My husband and I met on a cross-country walk and sometimes while walking through the desert there simply were not restrooms for many miles. In these cases we could either hold it for 8+ hours (not healthy!) or figure out how to do our business outside…

After I got past the ewww factor, I found that having to squat down outside actually made one much more efficient… Blatant TMI? Thought so… moving along…

Fast forward a few years and I’ve got potty training kids, so I discovered that there is actually a tool for helping improve bathroom posture that doubles as a potty training aid.

Ready for this… the Squatty Potty (not making this up) is a stool that slides alongside the toilet so it can be used even in small bathrooms. It’s durable bamboo and makes an excellent stool and potty training aid for kids. Adults can rest their feet on it while using the restroom to help make colon emptying more effective.

You can also accomplish this by simply squatting on the actual toilet seat (great for public restrooms!) though this takes a little more practice and balance!

Mark Sisson explains more of why this is helpful.

Your Diet

Obviously, diet can make a big difference in your poop, but it might be in ways you wouldn’t expect. Fat and protein often get blamed for constipation while processed foods and grains can actually be the culprit. Turns out the evidence supporting fiber’s role in colon health was shaky to begin with and has been debunked. Eating a lot of whole grains and taking fiber supplements doesn’t actually reduce the risk of colorectal cancer or other diseases.

What does lubricate the bowls and help with constipation? Healthy fats! Though it can take a few weeks to adjust to a higher fat diet, it will lead to more regularity in the long run. From Mark’s Daily Apple:

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.

The ideal diet for healthy poop? Whole foods like meats, lots of vegetables and healthy fats with minimal processed, canned and boxed foods. Also, lots of water and probiotic and Omega-3 supplements.

Other Factors

Stress and sleep can be major factors in how efficiently your bowels are working. A missed or shortened night sleep can not only give you the blood sugar levels of a Type II diabetic, they can alter hormone levels and slow down digestion.

A regular sleep schedule and working to reduce stress levels can help.

Your gut bacteria can also have a tremendous impact on bowel health and elimination and many people need to improve in this area. A quality probiotic can help, as can eating fermented foods and lots of beneficial fats.

Tips to Improve Intestinal Health

  1. Try squatting to poop or use something like the Squatty Potty to help. Surprisingly, this can make a big difference for some people.
  2. Drink enough water! This is the most simple and most often missed step to good elimination. Actual amount will vary by person but drink enough water that your urine is lightly colored and doesn’t have a strong smell.
  3. Eat enough healthy fats, especially from quality meats, coconut oil, and foods like olive oil, avocados and grassfed butter.
  4. Boost gut bacteria with probioticsfermented foods, apple cider vinegar or kombucha.
  5. Get enough sleep!
  6. Herbs can help. My digestion tincture can help with short term digestive issues.

How is your intestinal health? Did you notice any changes when you started eating healthier? Share below!

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Reader Comments

  1. That squatty potty thing cost $82 on Amazon.  I think anybody with a hammer, nails and lumber could very easily construct their own for next to nothing.

    Great tips on the healthy diet with healthy fats and probiotics.

    • Good idea! If you make one, please share the plans 🙂

    •  My friend’s husband made her one, and he & my husband are pals, so I am in the process of begging them to get together so we can have one!

    • I just use my daughters step stool thats already in the bathroom. Granted its not 100% like the Squatty potty as your feet are more together… but it works ^^

    • You can buy it at Bed, Bath and Beyond for I think $39….? I have one and so do many of my friends.

  2. I use a small stool, just to get my knee’s higher then my hips while sitting on the pot!  It helps a ton, I love it! But of course food plays a roll, I have yet to give up my “backup” foods but I know what they are.

  3. Thank you for posting this!  While it may not be a glamorous topic, it is an EXTREMELY important one!  My friend’s husband made her a Squatty Potty ($82 is a bit steep, even for good intestinal health), and I love to use it when I go over there.  My intestines & bowels thank me every time, so I am trying to get my husband to get with her husband to make me one!!
    Add to your healthy fats list: Hemp Hearts (hulled hemp seeds)!!  I have been making green smoothies almost every day with hemp hearts (3 Tblsp) in them, and I can tell a significant difference in my overall health for the day when I don’t have my smoothie!  I, for one, am glad you got past the Taboo enough to bring this out in the open!  Thanks once again, I have repinned this, and shared it on Facebook!

  4. Squatting is the right thing to do. that’s how it was done before the stupis invention of toilets.

  5. I  printed the pic of the squatty potty so my husband can make it for me.  This is huge problem for me. When my son was diagnosed with Celiac years ago, I thought it might be wise to give up wheat personally.  I was amazed how much the bloating and everything went away. Then last summer I noticed it returned, so I gave up corn.  Same bodily reponse.  The hardest thing this past winter was giving up potatoes.  Rice was easy.  However, I am still not regular and occassionaly find that I am suffering or lacking, which ever way you want to look at it. 

    I will have to try some of the other mentioned suggestions as processed foods are low on my intake.


    • Yes, check out Dr. Peter Osbornes stuff. Gluten Free Society. org. On Facebook and his clinic name etc. He’s the only doctor I know OF that keeps up with currents studies and educates other doctors and public. I thought I was eating gluten free, learned from him I wasn’t. Rice, corn….etc., has a form of protein that can react the same way. Coffee…..and…..He has a list of it all on his site stuff.

  6. My friend who visited Japan said instead of toilets like we have, they had “squatters”   Seems like it would be more natural.  I remember my kids when they were little going off to their room to squat and do their business.

    • I live in Japan, and yes, the traditional type of toilets are “squatters”. They are still popular especially in public toilets because people don’t like having to sit where strangers have “done their business”. Good point, it is kind of gross if you think about it too much. And it’s also a cultural thing–the Japanese don’t traditionally sit on chairs inside their homes, so why would they sit on a seat to deficate?
      This is my personal theory, but I think they are also popular because a huge portion of the population suffers from chronic constipation–and maybe they’ve always known that squatting is good? I’ve always assumed that the constipation is due to a) a diet centered almost exclusively on white rice, and b) lack of water intake. But now, thanks to this blog, I’m beginning to wonder if other factors aren’t involved also, like a lack of meat / healthy fat in the diet.

  7. Lol!  (I’m sorry–couldn’t help myself).

    Seriously though, great post.  As a kid, I suffered a series of chronic health issues that left me with gummed up pipes, so to speak.  As this was my state of being from childhood on, I perceived it as normal.  

    Having gone somewhat primal in diet and exercise recently, eating more good fat (after a brief low-fat vegan hiatus–never again), mainly through coconut oil, butter, eggs, meat, and olive oil has made all the difference.   My appetite has leveled out quite a bit; I have loads more energy; I’m craving veggies, and to the point of this post, business gets taken care of regularly (ahem).  

  8. Physical activity is important, as well.  My husband and I went on a 550 mile bicycle trip last August.  We found that we ate more, poo’ed less often, and poo’ed less in weight.  Our bodies broke down our food AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE because of our physical levels.

  9. In addition to diet, I’ve always encouraged posture to those close to me who have sited movement issues.  This is what I use and refer to as my “poop stool”:

    Works well for me, and folds up to be put away beside the toilet.  Didn’t realize there were stools made specifically for that purpose until seeing your blog!

    • My friend uses a stool too. The other pushes out of the way so you can choose to use it or not. They should just redesign toilets with it built in. Not sure how safe or how it would be just a thought.

  10. Thanks for posting..I’ve found that although I feel better eating a paleo diet my digestion has been absolutely terrible (generally diarrhea).  I’ve tried probitotics, fiber supplements, digestive enzymes, cut out fats, added fats, cut out fruit, added fruit, and on and on and on.  The only thing that helped at all is taking a few tablespoons of chia seed soaked in water at night so I guess that’ll be part of my diet forever.  
    As for the poop stool idea, I usually prop my feet up on a trashcan, seems to do the job 🙂

  11. I need some help with my toddler’s poop. About five weeks go we switched to Primal eating. He loves bananas, I try to limit one banana a day, because it is sometimes in other things I make. He loves coconut bread, coconut mil, nut butters and fruit. Getting him to eat any veggies, eggs or meat is almost impossible. I have taken to trying to just letting him be hungry if he won’t eat what I am offering. But he is pooping an awful sandy and melted chocolate type poops and he cries when I have to clean him. I don’t know what is causingit, and how to correct it, since he isn’t trying to eat meat or veggies or even cheese. I know my pediatrician will flip out, and suggest rice and oatmeal…i should say I am a great cook, and try to make things palatable. Any ideas, tips, suggestions or insights? Surely isn’t good for his intestines.

    • My pickiest son had some of the same issues during our adjustment. I finally nailed it down to the extra fiber in the coconut flour and the phytic acid in the nuts. What we had to finally do was severely limit options and insist on eggs for breakfast (and fruit once eggs were gone), meat and sweet potatoes for lunch (maybe banana after food is gone) and whatever we ate for dinner. We calmly explained to him that he was a big boy now and that these are the foods that big boys and grown ups eat to be healthy. Each meal, he just got the food and we didn’t make a big deal about it or fight with him. If he didn’t want to eat, he didn’t have to but he didn’t get any other food. It took about a week of hard battles but he finally started trying foods and he is a great eater now. In the short term, I also started mixing chia seeds or gelatin powder (or both) into coconut milk and fruit smoothies. Those helped sooth the gut while I was still working on the real food angle. It is so tough in the short term, but kids are pretty adaptable, and he will probably make the adjustment quickly. Good luck!

  12. Great post. My 6 month old baby is exclusively breastfeeding with no solids yet (except gnawing occasionally on a carrot or broccoli). He goes 5-10 days between poops and can get really uncomfortable around 7 days or so. His poop has never been hard so he’s never technically been constipated. However, after about two weeks of dramatically upping MY intake of virgin coconut oil and raw butter (and cutting way back on sugar) he’s pooping much more often!!! It’s not what I had planned with this diet change but it’s such an awesome side effect! It’s making me much more conscious of my diet while breastfeeding. I wish I’d straightened up sooner. Poor guy.

  13. Is it normal to go to the bathroom a lot more when you start taking probiotics? I have been taking them about 2 weeks and have noticed I have tummy aches( not severe but the kind i get when my bowels are up to something, if that makes sense)waking me up at night and EVERY morning upon waking I am on the potty. Will this be my poo poo life from now on or does this stop? My tummy feels better other than that! I can tell my digestion is much better. Just going through too much tp! Haha

    • That is normal and it should calm down as your digestive system adjusts…

  14. Hi- my 3 year old just started to get constipated recently. We have been on a Weston Price diet since January so has eats lots of healthy fats and little grain etc… Over the summer he started to get excema and we have tried all the natural remedies for that to no avail. Now he is getting constipated. I’m sure it’s something with his gut… I guess my question is: what can I do to help him poop, it’s hurts him so much?

  15. This is an eye opener for sure – my 4 year old son squats on the loo – good for him! He obviously knows more than me!

  16. This might be totally off.. but I’m starting to follow your recipes and eating habits. My husband still eats grains.. but we were wondering if flax seed (solid and ground) is okay to incorporate into this diet? Or is it considered a grain? There’s so much to learn. TIA!

  17. I tried almond/coconut flour for my daughter and she ended up with sandy poop followed by cow patty poop and a very sore bottom that made her cry when being cleaned up. Do you have an idea why almond/coconut flour would cause that reaction?

  18. We followed the gaps diet for a long time. While it helped my husband, it increased my lifelong struggle with constipation. 5 months ago I started eating vegan (not processed vegan but whole foods,little sugar or processed anything) and my constipation problems ended. My personal opinion is that its important to find what works for you and to eat whole foods no matter what-whatever diet you follow. But meat and dairy were not good for me at all but whole grains and legumes have never bothered me. I am however, going to try a stool in the potty;)

  19. Should be “poop affect” not “poop effect”