Is it really the more you go, the healthier you are? Or is it the quality of the poo that really matters?
To answer all our toilet time questions, we enlisted the help and knowledge of Dr Daniel Quemby; physician, expedition doctor and medic on Bear Gryll’s The Island, who knows more than most about bowel movements…
How often should we be pooing?
Take a moment to think about how many times you poo in a day or week. If you can answer this quite easily, because it’s relatively consistent – you are ‘normal’, regardless of the number.
“The average Brit poos around once a day”, says Dr Quemby. “But one out of ten go less than three times a week.”
The right amount, according to Dr Quemby, is ‘what’s normal for you’. “The only reason for concern is if there are long-term changes”, he says. “If you go from pooing once a day to suddenly 4-5 times a day (dodgy food and spicy curries aside), and especially if there is blood or mucus in the stool, then it needs to be investigated.”
Increases in bowel movement can also occur if you’ve had too much coffee or are stressed, but if you eliminate these factors and your changes have been occurring anywhere from two weeks to a month, you should seek professional help.
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What does a healthy poo look like?
If you can stomach it, take a look at the Bristol Stool Chart for a visual reference. Otherwise, take Dr Quemby’s word for it…
“If you’ve got round balls kind of like rabbit droppings, that would indicate that you’ve got constipation”, he says.
Types 3 and 4 on the chart, which are both like sausages in shape, only type 3 has a cracked surface and type 4 is smooth, are the easiest to pass and indicate a ‘healthy poo’.
Anything softer and sloppier than this is technically diarrhoea, in which case you may want to try something like Dioralyte (£3.79) to normalise your stool. If it persists, seek professional help.
How can I poo more?
If you find that you’re constipated and experiencing ‘rabbit droppings’ (or nothing at all), Dr Quemby says the first thing to check is your fluid intake.
“Make sure you’re drinking enough. I always make sure I’m drinking at least two pints of water a day.”
Next, look at your diet and make sure you’re ‘eating the rainbow’.
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“If you’re eating a beige diet with lots of pastries and pies and all types of crud, then you’re going to get constipated”, says Dr Quemby.”You need to have fibre.”
“Fibre helps you break the food down and push that poo out. So you need to increase that nutrient intake and change that diet.”
As for foods you can eat to speed things along…
“I advise patients who are constipated to have All-bran or bran, which is fibre, and then apricots or figs or prunes. Certainly dried apricots and prunes.”
What your poo is made of…
TMI? Never! Let’s find out what’s in your faeces.
“Poo is normally 100 to 250 grams or 3 to 8 ounces”, says Dr Quemby. “For an average person [this is made of] 75 per cent water and the rest is solid matter, which is made up of dead bacteria, undigestible materials such as cellulose (and this is why fibre is important because it passes through the intestine as an undigestible) cholesterol and other fats, calcium and phosphate.”
And our poo is brown because of ‘bilirubin’, which is the breakdown product of our red cells. The more you know hey…
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