It’s essential to observe your stool before flushing it down.

While discussing bowel movements may be uncomfortable for some people, healthcare providers emphasise the significance of examining your stool, as it can reveal a lot about your digestive system’s inner workings and warn you of potential health issues. Faeces is composed of undigested food, bacteria, mucous, bile, and water, making it an ideal daily gauge of digestive system performance. Changes in stool colour, texture, and consistency, especially if blood or mucous is present, can signal potential health problems. The Bristol Stool Chart is a helpful tool for assessing stool consistency, with Type 4 being the ideal indicator of normal and healthy bowel movements.

A healthy stool should be mid-brown, uniform in texture, sausage-like shape, and easy to pass. Black stool or mucous requires prompt medical attention. In contrast, light or yellow stool, irregularity, strong odours, floating stool, and the presence of blood or excessive mucous are abnormal and require evaluation.

The colour of the stool should be mid-brown, and light or yellow indicates that things are not functioning effectively. Consistency should be formed and sausage-like in appearance, not separate, hard lumps, liquid, or runny. Odour should not be toxic or linger for an excessive amount of time. Floating stool is a cause for concern, whereas sinking is a good sign. The presence of blood always indicates something, and the darker the blood, the more urgent the need for evaluation. While occasional mucous may indicate temporary disruptions to the gastrointestinal tract, significant amounts require evaluation.

Regular bowel movements should occur one to three times daily, depending on consistency and urgency, and not coincide with eating. The transit time from eating to evacuation should not be rapid, nor should the stool be liquid, unformed, nor containing undigested foods (except corn).

If you experience unexplainable abnormalities, you should seek evaluation by a healthcare provider.

What is your gut trying to tell you?