Your Poop and You: What It Reveals About Your Health

In Life by Kim Muraro , on Tuesday, October 16, 2012, 11:56 AM (PDT)
what your poop reveals about your health


The Poo Is the Key to Unlocking the Secrets of Your Health

Let's acknowledge upfront: this is not the most pleasant of topics we could be discussing. But your poop, and what it reveals about your health, is an important topic. And, if we're honest, it's something we've all taken note of, right?

The shape, color, smell, frequency and, forgive us, quantity, of your poo can be an important indicator of your digestive health, reports. A change in your number two can be nothing more than a result of something you ate, of course, but it can also let you know that your body is battling an infection or even something more serious.

Read: Poop Report: 9 Places Fecal Matter Lurks

"The digestive tract contains more bacterial cells than there are cells in the entire body," said gastroenterologist  Dr. Jean-Pierre Raufman, from the University of Maryland School of Medicine. "It's very important that our bowels work well to absorb necessary nutrients but also keep out any foods, chemicals and germs that could do us harm."'s guide to specific poo lessons:

-- Poo color: bottom (pun intended) line is that brown, or various shades of it, is fine, but black or yellow stool is not cool. Again, a color change could be explained simply as something you ate (black licorice or blueberries can cause black poo, for example). But red poo could indicate bleeding in your digestive system, and other colors can also serve as a warning system that something is afoot in your bod.

"The reason why stool is brown is because of our normal production of bile," Dr. Raufman said. "If there's a problem with bile flow, that may mean a problem like cancer of the bile ducts, or pancreatic cancer or hepatitis."

-- Poo consistency: there's another phrase you don't really want to discuss before lunch (or ever). But the consistency of your poop, i.e. regular, diarrhea or constipation, can tell you a lot about what's going on in your body. Certain medications can lead to issues, for example, as can a poor diet, dehydration, lack of exercise or even chewing gum.

"Someone who chews one or two packs of sugar-free gum a day could also get diarrhea," Dr. Raufman says.;

-- Poo smell: so, it's not like your poo ever smells great. And it's not supposed to, obviously. But even relative to how stinky poo smells usually, there are certain levels and varieties of poo smell that could indicate an issue.

Read: Jennifer Lopez's Son Pooped in Pool and Cost Her $6K

Poo is made up of undigested food bits, bacteria, dead cells and mucus, and its odor comes from bacteria and parasites. But Raufman says a particularly offensive poop could offer clues to infections and other big health concerns.

"If you have blood in your stool, that usually comes with a particular strange odor," he said. "Also, stool with a lot of fat can smell particularly bad."

Check out's story for the complete scoop on your poop and the health secrets it can reveal.

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