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Digestive system

Shit and poop

Over a lifetime, we each produce an average of 5 tons of poo but when it comes to shitting, having a poo, a dump, or crapping (whatever you call it) we can get surprisingly coy and embarrassed.

It's an essential bodily function, often ignored, and yet poo shape, size, colour, and consistency can tell a great deal about your health and how well your digestive system is working. Poo can also hold clues to more serious issues like infections, digestive problems, and cancer.

Whether your poos come too often or not often enough, it can make you uncomfortable, bloated, or even interfere with your body's ability to absorb enough nutrients from your food. And staying regular is crucial for staying healthy as it plays a major role in how you feel physically and emotionally.

Gay men tend to be less embarrassed and knowledgeable because many of us also use our arses for sex. But, even if you don't have botty sex this section is relevant for you too.

Size and consistency

The Bristol Stool Scale or Bristol Stool Chart is designed to classify the form of human faeces into seven categories. Sometimes referred to in the UK as the 'Meyers Scale', it was developed by Heaton at the University of Bristol and was first published in the Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology in 1997.

Type 1: 'Rabbit Droppings'
Separate hard lumps like nuts. Very constipated.
Type 2: 'Small Bunches of Grapes'
Sausage-shaped but lumpy. Slight constipated.
Type 3: 'Corn on the Cob'
Like a sausage but with cracks on the surface. Normal.
Type 4: 'Sausage-Like'
Sausage or snake-like, smooth and soft. Normal.
Type 5: 'Chicken Nuggets'
Soft blobs with clear cut edges. Lacking fibre.
Type 6: 'Thick Porridge'
Mushy and soft with ragged edges. Inflammation/ infection
Type 7: 'Soup Or Gravy'
Watery, no solid pieces, entirely liquid. Inflammation/ infection

Digestion time

Mouth to arsehole, your digestive system is a continuous tube around 30 feet/ 9 metres long. From swallowing food to pooping, general consensus seems to be it takes 24 to 72 hours to digest food, though time varies from person to person and the food you eat.

The colour poo

If you have any concerns about the colour of your poos then see your GP. If this is just too embarrassing, or you don't feel you have 'that' sort of relationship, you may find going to a sexual health clinic or A&E easier. In the meantime, we have compiled this guide which you may find helpful:

  • BROWN is the target colour because of stercobilin, a by-product of the haemoglobin in broken-down red blood cells; and bile, a fluid secreted into your intestines to help digest fat.
  • Eating beetroot, cranberries, tomatoes or red food colourants may make your poos look RED
  • Green leafy vegetables such as spinach or green food colourants can colour your stools GREEN
  • YELLOWY greasy rank smelling poos can indicate excess fat or the tummy bug giardia
  • PALE CLAY coloured poos can indicate a lack of bile or can be caused by some medications
  • BLOOD in poos can indicate bleeding in the lower digestive tract or rectum so, if you've been fucked recently, the blood may be from this. However, it can be a symptom of cancer.
  • BLACK poos could be the result of iron supplements or black liquorice, it may be a sign of bleeding in the upper gastrointestinal tract.

Composition

Poop is largely made up of water (75%), the bacteria which digests the food; and fibre, fats, other cells and mucus. The reason you can see sweet corn in poop is because the outside of the corn kernel is made of cellulose, an indigestible plant fibre which passes though the digestive system.

Floaters

As you may know, denser and heavier objects sink in water while lighter gas filled objects float, and increased gas in poo allows it to float. Most causes are harmless and go away without treatment and are due to to what you eat, a change in your diet or a tummy bug (gastrointestinal infection). However, less commonly, it may indicate lactose intolerance, the inability to digest lactose which is a sugar found in dairy products, or suggest a more serious digestive condition such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, or celiac disease.

Our poo tips

  • Don't suppress the desire to go; if you need to poo: poo.
  • Ensure adequate intake of water/ water-rich foods
  • Eat a healthy diet with sufficient fibre
  • Eat regularly, don't skip meals or overeat.
  • Eat adequate amounts
  • Exercise regularly
  • Drink plenty of water and non-caffeinated, non-alcoholic drinks
  • Work at feeling emotionally balanced

also

  • Ensure you're getting the right vitamins - a balanced diet should provide this (eg: A, C and D).
  • Ensure adequate intake of healthy fats.
  • Build and maintain a population of friendly bacteria in your digestive tract.
  • Aim for a work-life balance that reduces stress - anxiety can play havoc with our your digestive systems; eg: bouts of diarrhoea and constipation.

Human faeces | Wikipedia
Bristol stool scale | Wikipedia
  How to Have A Great Poop | Mama Natural | 16 Sep 2014 | 4m38s
Talking Shit | Wikipedia

Why Do We Pass Gas? | Ted-Ed | 8 Sept 2014 | 4m57s

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