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What Does Healthy Poop Look Like? A Comprehensive Guide

27 November 2023 · JOHN PHUNG · 10 min read
    Bidet Health
different color poop

Table of Contents

    Introduction: The Scoop on Poop

    In the grand scheme of health and wellness, discussing poop might not be the most glamorous topic, but it's undoubtedly crucial. Understanding what constitutes healthy poop is a key indicator of your digestive health and overall wellbeing. So, let's dive into what makes a poop 'healthy' and why it matters.

    The Color Palette of Poop

    Healthy poop typically boasts a charming shade of brown, owing its hue to bile and bilirubin, by-products of the normal breakdown of red blood cells. However, a spectrum of colors can appear in your toilet bowl. Green stools, for example, might just mean you’ve been feasting on leafy greens or green food coloring. But, if you spot red or black tinges, it's time to chat with your doctor, as this could indicate bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract.

    Texture and Consistency: The Feel of the Deal

    The texture of your poop is like a secret code to your gut health. Ideally, it should be soft and smooth - think toothpaste consistency. The renowned Bristol Stool Form Scale classifies poop into seven types, with Types 3 and 4 being the gold standard: like a sausage or snake, smooth and soft. If your stool is hard, lumpy, or resembles rabbit pellets (Type 1 or 2), it's a classic sign of constipation. On the other end, Types 5 through 7 indicate varying degrees of diarrhea and urgency.

    Size and Shape: The Measure of Matters

    A healthy poop is not just about color and texture; size and shape also play pivotal roles. Your stool should be substantial in size and maintain its integrity when it hits the water – a sign that your fiber intake is on point. If your poop is persistently pencil-thin, it might be wise to consult a healthcare professional as it could indicate a narrowing or blockage in the colon.

    Odor: A Smelly Tale

    While no poop will smell like roses, excessively foul-smelling stools can be a sign of a problem. Extremely stinky poop might be a red flag for malabsorption issues, like celiac disease, where your body can't fully absorb nutrients from the food you eat.

    Frequency: The Regularity Report

    How often should you go? Well, normal bowel movement frequency ranges from three times a day to three times a week. What's more important is the consistency of your routine. A sudden change in frequency, especially when accompanied by discomfort or changes in consistency and color, deserves attention.

    The Bristol Stool Chart: A Poop Encyclopedia

    Developed by Dr. Ken Heaton at the University of Bristol, the Bristol Stool Chart classifies stool into seven distinct types. This chart is not just an academic curiosity; it's a practical tool for understanding gut health.

    Type 1: Separate Hard Lumps, Like Nuts (Hard to Pass)

    hard lumpy poop

    Resembling nuts and difficult to pass, this type indicates constipation. Often, it’s a sign of inadequate fiber and fluid intake. Prolonged constipation can lead to discomfort and health issues like hemorrhoids. You should consider eating fiber rich foods and increasing fluid intake to see if the issue persists.

    Type 2: Sausage-Shaped but Lumpy

    sausage lumpy poop

    Also suggesting constipation, this type is slightly less severe than Type 1. It indicates that the stool has spent a bit too long in the colon, absorbing excess water and becoming hard.

    Type 3: Like a Sausage but with Cracks on the Surface

    poop like sausage cracked

    This is where we start entering the realm of 'normal' poop. It's similar to Type 2 but has a smoother shape and is easier to pass. It’s typical for individuals who poop once a day.

    Type 4: Like a Sausage or Snake, Smooth and Soft

    smooth and soft poop

    The gold standard of poop, Type 4 is what most should aim for. It’s smooth, soft, and easy to pass. This type indicates a well-balanced diet and good hydration.

    Type 5: Soft Blobs with Clear Cut Edges (Passed Easily)

    soft blob stool

    These types of stools may indicate a lack of dietary fiber. While not necessarily a bad sign, if this is your regular stool type, you might need to increase your fiber intake.

    Type 6: Fluffy Pieces with Ragged Edges, a Mushy Stool

    mushy stool

    This type is on the edge of normal and suggests mild diarrhea . It can be a reaction to a meal or a minor upset in the digestive system. If persistent, it may require dietary adjustments or a doctor's visit.

    Type 7: Watery, No Solid Pieces (Entirely Liquid)

    watery stool

    Type 7 is indicative of diarrhea or irritable bowel syndrome and suggests an irritation or infection of the digestive tract. It could be caused by a variety of factors including infections, allergies, or medication side effects.

    The Spectrum of Poop Colors: Health Indicators

    bistol poop color

    The color of your stool is influenced by many factors, including what you eat and drink, and the amount of bile in your stool. Bile, a digestive fluid produced by the liver, is naturally green. As it travels through your intestines, it changes color, usually resulting in a brown stool. However, different colors can appear, each carrying its own message.

    Brown: The Standard

    The quintessential brown poop is the benchmark of a normal bowel movement. The brown color results from the breakdown of bile and red blood cells in the gut.


    Green stool may look alarming, but it's often benign. It can result from eating lots of green vegetables or foods with green coloring. It could also indicate that the stool moved through the gut too quickly to undergo the usual bile color changes.


    Yellow poop can be a sign of excess fat, which may indicate a malabsorption disorder like celiac disease. It’s typically greasy and foul-smelling.

    Black or Very Dark Brown:

    Dark-colored stools may result from iron supplements or certain medications. However, very dark or black stools could also indicate bleeding in the upper gastrointestinal tract. Medical consultation is advisable if this color appears without a known cause.


    Red stool isn't always serious, as it can come from eating beets or red-colored foods. However, it can also signal lower gastrointestinal bleeding. If there's no dietary explanation, it's important to seek medical attention.

    Pale, White, or Clay-Colored:

    A lack of bile can lead to very light-colored stool. This could indicate a bile duct obstruction or liver issues. Gallstones, hepatitis, and other liver-related issues can also cause pale stools.


    Orange poop can occur if you eat foods high in beta-carotene, like carrots or sweet potatoes. It can also happen if there are issues with bile salts in the body.

    Understanding Color Changes

    Color changes in your stool can be temporary and harmless, often related to food intake. However, if you notice a persistent change in color, especially black, red, white, or very pale stools, it's essential to consult a healthcare professional.

    What does unhealthy poop look like?

    Referring to the Bistol stool chart, if you're poop is not defined as type 3 or 4 and has colors that is yellow, red, black, very brown or pale, it can be considered unhealthy or abnormal. If normal bowel movements produces this type of poop over several days, you should consult medical professionals.

    How do you know if your stool is healthy?

    Normal poop is typically looks like a sausage that is either smooth or with slight cracks. The color should be a normal brown.

    Is it normal to poop once a week?

    How often should you poop is typically not an indication on whether your poop is healthy or not, as healthy bowel movements depend on each persons circumstances. Although pooping once a week belongs to the lower end of the spectrum for a typical healthy person. It is best to consult medical advice.

    Should healthy poop float or sink?

    poop floating on water in toilet

    Healthy poop should sink.

    A floatie means that your poop is less dense than normal.

    Floating stool can occur due to various factors, primarily related to its composition, including gas and fat content.

    1. Gas Content: A prevalent reason for floating stools is an increase in gas within the stool. This often occurs following the consumption of high-fiber foods, leading to fermentation by gut bacteria and resultant gas production. This trapped gas reduces the stool's density, causing it to float.

    2. Fat Content: Elevated fat levels in stool, a condition known as steatorrhea, can also result in floating stools. This may occur due to malabsorption syndromes, pancreatic conditions, or bile duct complications, leading to an inability to properly digest and absorb fats.

    3. Dietary Modifications: Alterations in dietary habits, particularly an increase in dietary fiber, can temporarily lead to floating stools. This is generally considered a benign change.

    4. Gastrointestinal Infections: Certain infections that disrupt normal digestion and absorption can also result in floating stools, often due to alterations in gut microbiota and increased gas production.

    5. Pancreatic Dysfunction: Given the pancreas's role in fat digestion, its malfunction can lead to increased undigested fat in the stool, causing it to float.

    While floating stools are often not a cause for concern, especially if they occur sporadically and without other symptoms, persistent floating stools, particularly if accompanied by other gastrointestinal symptoms, warrant medical consultation to exclude any underlying pathology.

    Listen to Your Gut

    Your poop is a fantastic barometer for your health. Paying attention to the changes can give you early warnings about potential health issues.  Regular, Type 4 stools are a sign of a healthy gut. Deviations from this could warrant dietary adjustments or a healthcare consultation, especially if the changes are sudden or accompanied by other symptoms. If you notice anything concerning or have a gut feeling that something's off, don't hesitate to consult a healthcare provider. Remember, taking care of your digestive health is not just about comfort; it's about staying on top of your overall health.


    Note: The information provided in this blog is for educational purposes and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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