What does your poop say about your health? This may sound like a joke, but you can actually learn a lot about your health from your daily doo.
If your poop is…Hard
It may mean: You’re constipated—but you probably already knew that. “However, some people assume that if they go to the bathroom every day then they’re not constipated, but if your stool is consistently hard and comes out in pieces rather than a soft, single piece that passes without much effort, you may be constipated,” Sheth says. The most common culprit is inadequate fiber intake. The average U.S. adult only downs about 15 grams of fiber a day—a fraction of the recommended 25 grams per day for women and 38 grams per day for men. Read labels and keep a food journal for a week to track how much fiber you’re actually taking in. If you’re falling short, bulk up your diet with additional fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds.
If your poop is…Black or bright red
It may mean: Something in your G.I. tract is bleeding. “Most of the time blood in the stool is due to something as benign as hemorrhoids,” Sheth says. Since it could also be due to an ulcer in the stomach or colon cancer, it’s crucial to alert your doctor any time you notice blood in the toilet bowl. Certain over-the-counter medications, such as Pepto-Bismol, can turn your stool black. It occurs when sulfur in your digestive tract combines with bismuth, the drug’s active ingredient, and forms bismuth sulfide, a black-colored substance. The discoloration is temporary and harmless and may linger several days after you stop popping Pepto.