Is there such a thing as normal poop?
Now that you have a visual guide (and you’ve peered into the toilet bowl), it’s time to apply the information in a practical way—how can you use what you’ve learned to better support the digestive tract? Here’s what to know about types of poop.
Types 1 and 2: As a general rule, bowel movements that resemble types 1 and 2 generally point to some degree of blockage or slowed movement of stool through the large intestine, and in conjunction with other symptoms, may be indicative of mild and occasional constipation.
→ Essential takeaway: Drink enough water, increase dietary fiber intake (i.e. whole grains, lentils, chia seeds), and get moving.
Types 3 and 4: If stools resemble types 3 and 4, they’re in the clear—because they’re well-formed and easy to pass, they’re considered normal.
→ Essential takeaway: Keep up the good work!
Type 5: Seeing amoebas? It might be an indication that dietary fiber is lacking or that someone is trending towards diarrhea.
→ Essential takeaway: Increase intake. Be sure to stay hydrated and keep a close eye on any shifts to types 6 and 7.
Types 6 and 7: Too-soft (or even watery) consistencies may point to stool moving too fast through the large intestine, leading to diarrhea, which has a variety of common causes.
→ Essential takeaway: Prioritize staying hydrated and monitor the situation. If it doesn’t go away in a few days, speak to a gastroenterologist.
Shades of poop and what they can mean
Poop comes in many pigments, and can be influenced by diet—here’s what stool color may indicate about what’s going on in the body.
- Varying shades of brown: This is probably the first shade that comes to mind, and for good reason—it’s considered the norm.
- Green poop: If stool has hints of green in it, don’t worry! It can be perfectly normal. If poop looks super green, it could either be due to increased consumption of green foods (like spinach), or due to the stool passing through the body too quickly. (Digestive issues can lead to a slower breakdown of bile, which can result in green poop due to the natural green color of bile.)
- Yellow poop: Seeing yellow? It’s likely because of what is being eaten (a fatty diet, carrots, sweet potatoes, even snacks that are high in yellow food coloring), or it could indicate something more serious. If the color doesn’t go away, or if it’s accompanied by other symptoms like a foul smell or intestinal discomfort, it’s worth seeing a doctor.
- Red poop: Similar to green poop, if your poop color is looking just a little red, it’s probably not something to stress over—especially if you’ve consumed red foods like cranberries, beets, or tomato juice recently. If it’s pretty red, take notice, since it may indicate something more serious.
- Black poop: Black stool can be caused by black licorice, iron supplements, or even certain over-the-counter medications; if none of those ring any bells, it could also be a sign of a more serious issue, so keep an eye out and see a doctor if it does not resolve. (4)