One’s poop and pee might be a topic most men would avoid talking about but it’s worth discussing.
We’ve all become used to flushing the toilet without taking a second glance at what we passed out. This might cause us to miss out on some subtle warning signs that our bodies try to give us through our poop and pee.
Most physicians wish their patients pay a little more attention to their bodies so that they can detect some diseases early and sort them out before they become life-threatening.
Do you have any idea what your poop and pee say about your health? Do you know that changes in the character of your poop and pee could be indications of certain deficiencies or diseases?
The Digestive System
Stool, feces or poop is a product of the normal digestive process. Everybody poops. Digestion is an essential part of the body’s activities. It is important because your body needs food and nutrients from food and drink to work properly and stay healthy.
Digestion is the process of breaking down what you have eaten in order to extract those necessary nutrients that the body needs for survival.
Your body’s digestive system is in charge of this process. The digestive system composes of the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and large intestine (that is the gastrointestinal tract) and then the liver, pancreas and gall bladder as well.
All these organs or structures play an important role in the digestion or breakdown of whatever you eat. The result of their job is what you pass out as a stool or poop.
How Poop Is Produced
To fully understand how poop is produced, you need to understand how your body digests food.
After your food has been chewed and swallowed, the brain takes over by controlling the movement of the food through the different structures that make up the gastrointestinal tract (GIT).
The food moves from the mouth, through the esophagus into the stomach, from there into the small intestine, to the large intestine and down to the rectum.
At these different points, food breaks down with the necessary nutrients extracted and absorbed. Several enzymes that help in these processes are secreted as well.
Other digestive juices include stomach acid and bile. Several mechanisms, hormones, and reflexes in the body control the digestive process.
At the end of digestion, the rectum stores the end product called stool or feces until it’s ready to be passed out. Your poop is basically what’s left after the body takes what it needs from the food you’ve consumed.
Now, when it comes to poop, there is no universal agreement on what is considered normal. The truth is that your diet plays an important role in determining the characteristics of your stool.
For physicians, the important things they think you should pay attention to are:
The frequency of your stooling
Most gastroenterologists agree that the frequency, texture, and smell of poop a person has most regularly are normal. However, there could be abnormalities seen in the stool. This could be an indication of a deficiency or disease.
Sometimes, a stool chart acts as a tool to check for these changes. Generally, normal poop has the following characters:
Medium to dark brown color: this color is because poop contains bilirubin; a substance formed when red blood cells break down.
Strong smell: caused by gases emitted by bacteria normally found in poop.
Soft to firm texture: not hard, not watery or loose
Easy and strain-free to pass
Each person usually has consistent stool characteristics. A change from the usual to something quite strange is usually a cause for concern.
Keep in mind that some factors like stress, dehydration, diet, some drugs and so on can cause changes in your stool and it may not be a cause for alarm. However, repeated strange changes in your stool could be an indication of an underlying disease.
Bristol Stool Chart
Many doctors advise their patients to always take a second look at their stool before flushing it down. The normal stool can change all of a sudden or gradually and for many reasons.
Physicians use this chart to determine if there are abnormalities in the consistency of stool. It divides stool types into 7 types. Abnormal colors and possible causes are composed of the following:
- Eating beets or red berries
- Bleeding in the rectum or anus
- Some gastrointestinal cancers
White, Gray, or Pale Poop
- Taking some antidiarrheal medications
- Blockage of the bile duct/lack of bile
- Veggies like kale and spinach
- Too much bile in stool/ not enough bilirubin
- Upper GIT bleeding
- Bismuth medications
- Iron supplements, black licorice
- Eating lots of carrots, sweet potatoes, and winter squash
- Blocked bile ducts
- Drugs like Rifampicin and some antacids
Greasy Looking Poop
Fat malabsorption issues
Diseases That Can Reflect In Stool
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Cohn’s disease
- Alcoholic hepatitis
- GIT cancers and so on
These diseases can cause a significant change in your stool habits and stool appearance. When you notice a change lasting for a week or a few days, see your doctor immediately.
The nature of your stool says a lot about your digestive health, your bowel habits, your diet and your body in general.
- A low fiber diet and dehydration would manifest as hard stool which is difficult to pass.
- Most gastrointestinal diseases would manifest by changing the color, texture or even the frequency of stool.
- For example, irritable Bowel Syndrome would manifest with frequent passing of watery stool (diarrhea).
- Some GIT cancers may manifest with blood staining the stool.
- When the body cannot digest fat properly, you may begin to notice the passing of greasy looking stool that floats in the toilet bowl.
Men who are advised on digestive health are always told to always take another look at their feces before flushing. You may be flushing a load of life-saving information down the toilet!
Urine or pee is a liquid waste product produced by the kidneys in the process of cleaning the blood. It is made up of water and dissolved waste products. The bladder stores the urine and when the bladder gets full, you should feel an urge to pass out urine.
Most people pass out urine four to eight times a day. However, the more you drink, the more urine you pass out. If urine stays for too long in the body, it can lead to kidney failure.
Normal urine is a transparent solution ranging from colorless to amber but usually pale yellow in color. It contains majorly water, some organic compounds, inorganic salts, hormones, and other metabolites.
Urea is the most prominent organic matter seen in the urine. Normal urine contains very little protein that may not even be measurable.
Fresh urine doesn’t have an unpleasant smell but after a little while of leaving the body, it acquires a fish-like odor. Changes in the different characteristics of your urine may be indications of an underlying disease.
Here are different abnormalities you may see in your urine and possible causes;
Red: can be caused by foods like beets and berries, also drugs like rifampin, severe muscle injury, blood from an injury, infections, kidney disease, cancers, and benign prostate enlargement.
Orange: can be caused by drugs like rifampin, phenazopyridine, some chemotherapy drugs.
Blue: can be caused by food coloring, dyes used in medical tests like methylene blue, drugs like Indomethacin.
Black: most commonly caused by dehydration or dangerous waste products in the body.
Brown: can be caused by some urinary tract infections, liver and kidney disorders and some drugs.
Dark yellow: dehydration.
- Excess urine (>2.5L/day): This is a common symptom of type 2 diabetes
- No urine at all or <100ml/day: A common indication of renal disease
- Low urine output(<400ml/day): Could indicate dehydration, kidney failure, urinary tract infections, etc.
The color, frequency, odor, and quantity of your urine say a lot about your kidney health. It also reflects the health of your urinary tract. Changes in urine content may be an indication of an underlying metabolic disorder.
- The presence of glucose in your urine could be a sign of diabetes
- Presence of excess protein in your urine is a telltale sign of renal disease
- Men who have enlarged prostates find it difficult to pass out urine
- Abnormal color of urine could indicate an injury to your kidneys or even the excess of some vitamins in your system
- The amount of water you take reflects in your urine quantity and color. Your urine becomes a darker shade and reduces in quantity when you’re dehydrated. When this happens, you could be at risk of kidney stones and renal disease.
Urine Colour Chart
This is a very helpful tool used to check for changes in urine color. As we’ve said earlier, a change in urine color is a very important sign that shouldn’t be ignored. The Urine Colour Chart also gives information about the level of dehydration or hydration of your body.
The body has its own way of telling us when it has a problem. One of those ways is the change we may observe in our poop and pee. They could be indications of deficiencies or illnesses that are still in their early stages.
Learning to observe your poop and pee from time to time and making it a habit could save your life. Whenever you notice a consistent change in your poop and pee or in your bowel/urinary habits, see a doctor immediately.
If you’re interested in finding out more about your urine and fecal health, check out this book by Josh Richman and Anish Sheth, which shares useful trivia about your big and small business in a humorous manner.
Understanding your poop and pee better doesn’t always have to be a dirty matter!