The Best Personality Test You’ve Never Taken

Get to know your bowel habits to know yourself.

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You squeeze. You push. You strain. You may even scream in agony sometimes. We all do it. Every age, every gender, every income status, every race. One of the very few acts on this world that doesn’t discriminate no matter what happens: A Bowel Movement. Going “number 2” as we so preciously called it as children.

As precious and vital as it may be, we still understand so little about it. Like why is it very easy sometimes? Other times very difficult? Why are there some instances where there’s ‘heavier loads,’ vs others where there is only a few pebbles? Sometimes it can happen multiple times in an hour, while sometimes it doesn’t happen multiple times in a week. In essence, what does your poop say about you? Can tracking your poops do more for you than tracking your calories?

I Can Track That

Many of us love to track our steps, our blood sugar levels, how much protein we ate, how much cheesecake we had for lunch, and others wear rings or watches that track everything from heart rate to sleep. In comes the world of self quantification, using technology to track & quantify things that take place in our bodies every day. These tools are highly valuable, providing you with feedback that gives you wonderful insights into your own health. Not sure if honey spikes your blood sugar? Put on a continuous glucose monitor. Not sure how much you moved during your busy day at the office? Check your FitBit or Apple Watch. Not sure if eating a whole pizza is going to affect your poops? Just wear a …….oh wait, we don’t really have anything we can ‘wear’ that’ll track our bowel movements (BMs). Heck, what would I even track about my BMs?

When it comes to ole #2, there’s several key indicators that’ll tell you what’s happening throughout the digestive tract (mouth to butt). What size was the BM? Was it bigger or smaller than normal? What shape was it? Was it more like a ripe banana, or more like runny water (maybe TMI, but I mean hey, we do it all the time)? Was there cracks on the surface, or was it smooth all around? These are all pretty simple questions we can answer about our own BMs. Best part, it won’t cost you what a glucose monitor, Apple Watch, or a Whoop strap will cost you. It’s FREE.

To Bristol We Go

Those of you with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) or IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) may be familiar with the Bristol Stool Chart. For those who aren’t, check out the figure below:

The Bristol Stool Chart (BSC) was developed in the late 90s as a clinical assessment tool for those with digestive ailments. The BSC classified stools into 7 different categories of stool, ranging from 1 (basically constipation) to 7 (diarrhea). Types 3 and 4 are typically deemed as ‘normal.’ Types 2 (mild constipation) and type 6 (mild diarrhea) are also less desired as they’re just one category away from the extremes. Part of the diagnostic criteria for IBS involves using this chart, as some with IBS alternate between type 1 and type 7 poops (not fun for anyone). One study of nearly 4,800 people found that 90% of men self- reported stools between types 3–5, and 90% of women between types 2–6 (1).

Using this chart, I tracked my stools for nearly 2 months straight on an excel document in order to gain insight into my gut health. What I found was quite interesting:

The BSS Score is the rating I used based on the Bristol Stool Chart from above. The review at the top was for me to compare items on a monthly basis (January of 2020 in this case). Luckily for me, 86% of my stools were either a type 3 or type 4, and my average score was basically a type 3. Negligible amount of type 1 stools, and not a single type 7 stool. I also kept track of the time of the stools, just to see how ‘routine’ everything was moving down there. A big thing I found was that on days that were more stressful (such as 1/3/20, I was in a airplanes all day and I hate flying lol) I had nearly double the normal amount of bowel movements. It was almost as if my digestive system couldn’t fully relax and push everything out at once.

After nearly 2 months of doing this I found the Excel tracking part to be incredibly tedious, so I stopped after February for about the next 4 months. The whole time I was thinking, “There has to be an app that tracks all this for me.” Several weeks ago I stumbled across that very app, and began tracking again: Poo Keeper, and they have an excellent free version that I use.

As you can see they give the BSC rating, whether the stool came out too fast or too slow, and how large your stool was relative to normal. You can also take a picture of the stool itself (I know I know, I never thought part of my passion in life would involve examining poops, but here we are).

Timing Matters

What’s also important to track is the frequency of your bowel movements: how many times are they happening per day/week? From that same study I quoted above, 90% of individuals had between 3–21 bowl movements per week. That’s why if you go to the internet, it will say the average person has between 3 poops a day (21 per week) to 3 poops a week (aka in line with this study). I more so fall in line with the idea that we should be pooping at least once per day, as poop is one of the bodies major ways of getting rid of toxins (along with sweat and urine).

If your pooping more than 21 times per week (more than 3 times a day), I’d first examine what types of bowl movements they are. If they are mostly diarrhea, that could be a more alarming issue, which may require a visit to your primary care physician. If they are mostly in the types 3–5 range, you may be too stressed out/overly nervous. Incorporating deep breathing and meditation practices can do wonders for your stress levels.

If you’re pooping less than 3 times a week (or even once per day), I’d ask a few follow up questions: 1) Are my poops difficult to pass (constipation)? 2) Do I just never have an urge to poop? If they answer is the first one, check out my article on 3 Simple Remedies for Constipation. If the answer is number two (see what I did there), there may be an issue with how the nerves in that area are communicating with your brain, in which case I’d seek out a Chiropractor or Functional Medicine Practitioner.

Lots of people are creatures of habit, and our bowel movements are no exception. The time of day of your poops shouldn’t vary all that much; for example I typically have two BMs in the morning. Especially if you are someone who eats the same foods everyday at roughly the same times, your poops should fall right in line. If you’ve never tried eating the same foods at similar times each day, I invite you to try for a few days. Not only will it help regulate your BMs, but it will help regulate your circadian rhythm (part of our body’s internal clock that governs much of what we do) and potentially your sleep.

Tracking food, blood sugar, and sleep seem to be all the rage when it comes to people tracking things about themselves, but in my view, there’s lots of insight we can gain into our health by tracking our BMs. Not only is it FREE, but with all the apps now-a-days it only adds 30 seconds to your day. If that seems incredibly weird to you, don’t worry, it still is for me sometimes. But hey, maybe after a few days you’ll be bragging to all your friends about how awesome your poops are, or maybe you’ll be sifting through the internet trying to find a remedy for your poop struggles, and hopefully you’ll come across my articles 😉.

If you did enjoy this article, I’d really appreciate it if you looked at the upper left hand corner, and gave the article an applause. If you’d like further information on optimizing your gut health, living with autoimmunity, and listening to me rant, make sure to give me a follow as well or hit the email notification button to get notified whenever I publish a new article.

As always, trust in Your Gut.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are for educational purposes only, and are not intended to diagnose or treat any condition. Do not apply any of the information in this article without first speaking with your doctor.

References

  1. Mitsuhashi, S., Ballou, S., Jiang, Z., Hirsch, W., Nee, J……… et Lembo, A. Characterizing Normal Bowl Frequency and Consistency in a Representative Sample of Adults in the United States (NHANES). Am J Gastroenterol, 2018, 113(1): 115–123.

Educating, Optimizing, & Empowering Fitness Enthusiasts To Trust In Their Gut. Doctor of Chiropractic. Instagram: @drnickbelden. LinkedIn: Nicholas Belden