How Healthy Is Your Poop?

11 Tips for Creating Healthy Bowel Movements

by Christiane Northrup, M.D.

Yep! I’m goin’ there!  Despite the fact that we all poop, it is probably one of those subjects that you don’t talk about – even with your health care practitioner.  I want to change that because your bowel movements are your body’s natural way of detoxing, and your poop can tell you a lot about your health. In fact, it’s is one of the few reminders you get about your health on a daily basis.

Now, if you are an Ageless Goddess, I know that you are consuming healthy, whole foods. But, how do you know if you are digesting your food well? And what about when things aren’t working properly? Is it something to worry about, such as an infection or a more serious condition? Or, could it simply be due to a change in diet or your daily routine? The only way to really know is to look in the toilet every time you have a bowel movement! That’s because how your poop looks, smells and is shaped are direct indications of how well your digestive tract is working.

Keeping your digestive tract working well is important to maintaining your overall health. Have you ever been cranky or “off” when you haven’t had a healthy bowel movement?  That’s because your brain and gut communicate directly so that trouble in your gut can lead to trouble with your mood. In fact, an unhealthy digestive tract can lead to an increased risk of many more serious health conditions, including neurological disease, autoimmune disease, and chronic inflammation. 

Is Your Poop Normal? Here’s The Scoop.

Bristol Stool Chart(Image credit:

Rather than having me describe in detail how your poop should look and smell, you will be happy to know that there is actually a stool form scale called The Bristol Chart. The chart was designed in the 1990s to be a guide for gastroenterologists. It classifies how your poop looks into 7 categories depending on the time that it takes to form in your colon – or the “transit time.” You can see that numbers 3 and 4 are what is considered normal.  If your poop falls into categories 1-2, (constipation) or categories 6-7 (diarrhea), it is considered abnormal. You can use the Bristol Stool Chart to compare your typical poop to what’s considered normal and learn what may be causing a problem if you have one.

What is interesting here is that diarrhea (types 6 and 7) is classified as “inflammation.” So if you have diarrhea it means you have an inflammatory process going on in your gut. Unfortunately, many people consume a highly inflammatory diet.  This can lead not only to bouts of diarrhea but also to what is known as “leaky gut syndrome” and even what we call “autoimmune disease.” (I’m questioning the names of these conditions these days because, according to medical medium Anthony William, your immune systems never actually attacks you.  And, your gut doesn’t actually leak.  But, whatever label you put on these conditions, they have one thing in common: cellular inflammation.) So, if you find you are typically in the 6-7 range of The Bristol Chart, first look at your diet and avoid common inflammatory foods, such as dairy, gluten, grains, soy, sugar, and corn.

Other Qualities To Check Before You Flush

In addition to how your poop is shaped, you want to pay attention to other qualities. One unhealthy bowel movement is usually not a reason to run to the doctor.  But, if you consistently have unhealthy bowel movements, it’s probably worth mentioning to your doctor.  Here are some other things to consider when checking your bowel movements:

  1. How often do you poop? Research shows that we should all poop every day. The healthy range is typically 1-3 times per day. It makes sense that moving your bowels frequently is healthy because what you are doing is removing waste and toxins. Some people even have bowel movements every time they eat! If you find yourself pooping only a couple times per week you are most likely constipated. Likewise, if you are going 5 times per day, you have diarrhea.
  2. How easy is it to poop? Many people in our culture take a newspaper — or a laptop! — into the bathroom and emerge 30 minutes later. This is not good on several levels.  First, healthy bowel movements should only take a few minutes.  You should not need to push hard.  This could lead to hemorrhoids, which are all too common today. You should also not feel a sudden urgency like you have to run to the toilet.  As far as the newspaper, laptop or phone goes, I suggest leaving it outside the bathroom!
  3. Did you get it all out? Full evacuation is considered healthy. (My hilarious nephew calls this a “walk away.” You sit down, your poop comes out, you walk away). If you have to keep going back to the toilet, you are not having a complete bowel movement.  Likewise, if you feel like there’s always something left behind that leaves you feeling uncomfortable then you’re not having healthy bowel movements.
  4. Other qualities to check. Don’t stop there. Here are a few more things to check.
    1. Color: If your stool is light to medium brown you are healthy. If it’s black, tarry, or pale you may have a serious health issue such as bleeding, hepatitis, pancreatitis, cirrhosis.  If you see your stool is one of these colors consistently, or you see blood in your stool, it’s time to call a doctor.
    2. Sink or float: Stools may float or sink, but stools that make a slow gentle dive tend to be indicative of healthy bowels. A high-fiber diet can make your poop float, which is fine. But floating stool can also be a sign of malabsorption.
    3. Smell: Finally, be sure to take notice of how your poop smells. It should smell natural and not have an extraordinarily bad odor.  Really smelly bowel movements may indicate malabsorption, Celiac or Crohn’s disease, or even pancreatitis.

When To See Your Doctor

You know that I am an advocate for giving your body the proper nutrients and environment for healing itself.  But, unhealthy bowel movements are a message that something is not working properly and sometimes a visit to the doctor is a good idea. If you have any of the following warning signs, be sure to schedule an appointment with your doctor:

  • Sudden or persistent change in normal bowel movements (what’s normal for you)
  • Blood or excess mucus in your stool
  • Constipation, difficult or infrequent bowel movements for three weeks or longer
  • Frequent diarrhea or an urgent need to move your bowels
  • Constant feeling that you cannot empty your bowels completely
  • Stools that are oddly shaped (see the Bristol Chart)
  • Frequent abdominal discomfort, gas, cramping or bloating
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Pain before, during or after bowel movements
  • Chronic bowel leakage or lack of bowel control
  • Abnormal bowel movement accompanied by pain, fever, nausea, or dehydration

11 Tips for Creating Healthy Bowel Movements

If you have had a recent change in your bowel movements and you don’t have a serious health condition, it can be easy to get things back on track.  Here are my recommendations for keeping things moving smoothly:

  1. Increase Fiber In Your Diet. Fiber adds bulk to your stool and increases transit time so it can help you stay regular. The minimum daily recommended amount of fiber is 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men under age 50, and 21 grams for women and 30 grams for men over age 50. I suggest getting your fiber from a plant-based source, such as psyllium.
  2. Watch your eating habits. Your bowels will respond best when you eat whole foods on a regular schedule.  Be sure to eat smaller meals at regular intervals several times per day to help ease digestion. Large, infrequent meals can be harder to digest.  Chew your food slowly and thoroughly. Stop eating when you are full.  Avoid eating late at night. If you still have problems, try keeping a food journal to track what you eat along with any uncomfortable digestive symptoms.  You may have a food sensitivity.  If you think you are reacting to a certain food, eliminate it from your diet for 21 days and see if you notice a difference.
  3. Reduce Stress. Stress can create problems in your digestive tract by interfering with the neurotransmitters found in your intestines. Practice stress-reduction techniques such as yoga, deep breathing, and meditation. You will help your mind and your gut.
  4. Reduce or Eliminate Caffeine and Alcohol. Both of these dehydrate your colon.
  5. Drink lots of Water. The average adult should aim for a minimum of 64 ounces (about eight glasses) of fluids each day. Water is best. You may even want to try warm water with a bit of lemon. This can be very soothing. You may also drink tea and naturally-sweetened juices.
  6. Get Enough Exercise. Exercise stimulates the muscles in your digestive tract so food keeps moving through your intestines at a healthy pace. It also is an important part of maintaining a healthy weight, which may reduce your risk of colon cancer. Aim for 30 minutes of exercise every day and try doing it at the same time. This will also help your body stay regular.
  7. Eat Fermented Foods. Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, real pickles, and kefir contain probiotics and prebiotics, which help to restore the bacteria in your intestines. You may also want to try taking pro- and prebiotics in supplement form, especially if you suffer from diarrhea, IBS or other digestive issues or if you take medications, such as antibiotics that can destroy your gut flora.
  8. Go When You Need To. Always respond in a timely matter to your bathroom urges. Putting off a bowel movement can cause constipation, abdominal pain, gas and more. Try to stick to a schedule, but don’t force it. For many people, the ideal time to go is 30 to 60 minutes after a meal, when your intestines are in motion.
  9. Avoid OTC Medicines. Laxatives, stool softeners, anti-diarrhea medicines, and other over-the-counter products may help your symptoms in the short term, but overuse can actually make things worse or cover up an underlying health problem. For occasional constipation try bulk-forming fiber supplements, such as psyllium. Magnesium is also very important for healthy bowel function. The recommended amount is  400-1000mg/day. Loose stools from magnesium indicate that you should cut back a bit.
  10. Change Your Position. Many people strain to move their bowels.  That’s because the way we sit on a standard toilet seat does not make elimination easy or natural.  Straining can lead to hemorrhoids and over time can even damage pelvic floor muscles! Instead, try breathing deeply and putting your feet up on a stool, or get a Squatty Potty.  This creates a position that is closer to a natural squat, which unkinks your colon and makes elimination easier.
  11. Try a coffee enema. Coffee enemas have been used for centuries to relieve constipation and improve health. They are typically used today to help to flush out bacteria, fungus, yeast, and other toxins from the digestive tract, including the colon, lower intestines, liver, and gall bladder. When used regularly, coffee enemas can lower inflammation and restore healthy bowel function. You can perform a coffee enema at home and inexpensively by purchasing an enema kit. These can be found in health food stores, drugstores, and online. Then, make your coffee using certified organic coffee beans (caffeinated) and filtered water. Allow the coffee to cool for 15 minutes before using. Lie on your side and try to keep the coffee liquid in for 30 minutes. For more information on coffee enemas, check out Kelly Brogan M.D.’s website.

5 Natural Remedies for Constipation

Everyone experiences constipation at some point. Travel, change of routine, dehydration, and certain medications (such as OTC antacids, painkillers, analgesics, and diuretics to lower blood pressure) and certain medical conditions (such as hypothyroidism) can contribute to constipation. Anyone who has experienced constipation knows It can be frustrating and uncomfortable. Chronic constipation can also pose more serious health issues and keep your cardiovascular, endocrine and immunes systems from functioning properly.

Fortunately, there are many natural ways to relieve constipation and get things moving again:

1. Take ascorbic acid (vitamin C). If you have ever taken too much vitamin C, you know that loose stools are a result. That’s because vitamin C has a laxative effect that is proportionate to your body’s need for it. Most healthy people can tolerate between 2,000-4,000 mgs of vitamin C in their gut. If you notice loose stools at 2,500 mg, then that is your limit. However, if you are fighting a cold, you may need more vitamin C before you notice a change in your bowel movements.
2. Try probiotics. Healthy gut flora protects your colon from pathogens and supports your overall immunity. Studies show that probiotics can help keep your gut flora healthy by reducing gut transit time and improving stool frequency and consistency.
3. Eat prunes or kiwis. Prunes and kiwis have long been used to treat constipation in children and adults. They help increase frequency of bowel movements and stool consistency and are on par with psyllium in effectiveness.
4. Get enough magnesium. Magnesium has a positive effect on just about every system in your body and just about everyone on the planet is deficient in this mineral. If you have ever taken “too much” magnesium, you have probably experienced its laxative effect. When it comes to your gut health, magnesium may reduce your risk of colorectal tumors.
5. Increase dietary fiber. Increasing dietary fiber adds bulk to your stool, which digested food needs to move through your digestive tract. Oat bran, flax seed, and psyllium are all good sources of fiber that you can easily add to stimulate bowel movement.

So now, don’t be shy.  Share your scoop in the comments section below.

Last Updated: July 10, 2022

Christiane Northrup, M.D.

Christiane Northrup, M.D., is a visionary pioneer and a leading authority in the field of women’s health and wellness. Recognizing the unity of body, mind, and spirit, she empowers women to trust their inner wisdom, their connection with Source, and their ability to truly flourish.


Add comment
  1. Terickso1
    2 years ago

    Baked cabbage hotdish (using chopped cabbage rather than noodles) is another tasty treat for regular, effortless bowl movements!
    I use a marinara sauce (sometimes just canned such as Hunts), seasoned cooked ground beef and/or turkey, chopped onions and cabbage then bake in a 9×10 dish until cabbage is par done to your liking. Approx. 1 HR. Simple and easy!

  2. Terickso1
    2 years ago

    When I was pregnant, my doctor (from India) only allowed me to eat canned peaches without the juice to facilitate bowl movements. That worked like a charm!

  3. Anita Garatie
    2 years ago

    I’ve had a little constipation lately. However, I shifted my diet to paleo. drinking more water & going for walks sure helps! I know there are some yoga movements that help too. starting a class soon. thank you for all you do Dr Northrup.

  4. Erin
    3 years ago

    I have had pebble poops for about 15 years of my life and it is the worst! My doctor diagnosed me with IBS and that was it. NO guide on what to do or how to fix it so I finally did some research and found this and some other great articles. Thank you for posting this! Why can’t we just talk more freely about poop!?!

  5. Linda
    4 years ago

    Hi I had my GB removed 4 years ago .I am tols i have IBS also Diverticulitis i have an RV Fistula not repaired and am a diabetic.My problem is I have been having light coloured loose stools for months ,i have told my Doctor about it and she does not seem concerned .I think this has been going on for a while i also get constipated and when i take senna my stool is brown otherwise its light .I am 70 years old and I am really scared.I have started today to take 1450m capsules 2 once a day to try and help…. my Anus hurts a bit when i poo but i know i do suffer from piles Due to the corona outbreak i cant get to see my Doctor and i am Panicking ,I do not feel unwell just dont know what to do .I do have lower abdo pain but this could be due to do with DD or Fistula or IBS? Please help me if you can Thank you so much

    1. Merry
      3 years ago

      Linda, I hope by the time you read this that someone has helped you. I don’t have a gall bladder either and I am a diabetic. Every since my gb was removed, my stools are light in color. It’s because you don’t secrete bile like you used to so there is no coloring from it anymore. Not abnormal! I have found that I take ox bile 500 mg with a meal that contains any fat such as butter, bacon, cheese, etc., and it helps with the loose stools! You take it just before you eat your food. Easy and beneficial. Start with that and see if you don’t improve in this area. Again, light colored stools in a person without a gb is par for the course. But still discuss with your physician to make sure nothing else is going on. And with the ox bile, don’t worry if sometimes it doesn’t work and you still run to the bathroom after a fatty meal. I sometimes have that happen. I wish you well!

  6. Penny
    5 years ago

    Ubiome, the comoany you recommend has filed for bankruptcy. Any other ones you know?

  7. Timi
    5 years ago

    Hi there, thank you for sharing this information. I have never been regular, but since my hysterectomy it is worse, my bowels have fallen into my abdomen, which makes it very difficult to go ( only a couple of times a week) I never feel empty? Always uncomfortable. I would welcome any advice you could offer. Thank you

  8. Alice
    5 years ago

    It”s a great article, thank you so much !

  9. Suellen Henry
    5 years ago

    I have been on a fully vegetable diet, no carbohydrates except for beans, chick peas/hummus.. I eat plenty of broccoli, cashews, and green olives. one avocado a day with yellow, red organic peppers, organic onion, organic spinach leaves, organic tomato, and a small amt of organic chicken. At noon time I drink a green drink consisting of cucumber, spinach leaves, lemon, grapefruit, chia seeds and turmeric. I have consistently been following this lifestyle change for three months and my poop is dark green and mushy. I go 2 times/day. Prior to this, I had what would be considered a normal bowel movement like 4. Based on what I am eating, is this normal? Should I have cause for concern?

  10. Sherri Preston
    5 years ago

    Thank you!!

  11. Mary Jane Burns
    5 years ago

    Christiane Northrup —- you are the best and ALL of the information you provide is so helpful. I am so blessed to have connected with you and I am one of your Ageless Goddesses!!!!

    1. Christiane
      5 years ago

      Love it!! thank you!!

  12. Nicola Allis
    5 years ago

    I mostly fall into category 1&2. I eat a healthy diet low fodmap as I may have IBS. But maybe it’s more of a malabsortion problem? My Dr. is not very helpful in this field.

    1. Christiane Northrup
      5 years ago

      What you might consider is having your microbiome tested You can get one from ubiome via Amazon. Just google ubiome or gut microbiome.

  13. Mary Cox
    5 years ago

    I too had very runny bowel movements that I thought was normal for me. I went to gastrointestinal doctor who did a colonoscopy to rule out polyps. I was clear. We researched the supplements I was taking and found that most of them contained ingredients that caused diarrhea. I also follow Donna Schwenk and have been making my own probiotics. These probiotics have cleared up any bowel issues I’ve been having and I highly recommend them especially sauerkraut.

    1. Christiane Northrup
      5 years ago

      Great idea. Donna Schwenk’s teachings are wonderful.

  14. Mary
    5 years ago

    I sometimes have blood come out, this happens often right before I get my period and then goes away once I get it.
    Sometimes however, it lasts longer but I’m afraid to go to the doctor. Also with my job, sometimes I cant get to the bathroom when i need to. This bothers me 🙁

  15. Marie
    5 years ago

    I’ve been juicing with beets, spinach, kale, celery and carrots everyday. Would that make my stool look red at times? What do you recommend to eat that is a natural fiber? I’ve been eating pink grapefruits. Can they effect my stool ?

    1. Christiane Northrup
      5 years ago

      Beets make a really red stool! Yes. Natural fiber is found in all vegetables. You can increase fiber by taking psyllium husks. They work great. Just make sure you take plenty of water along with the psyllium. Of course a diet loaded with vegetables and quite low on high glycemic foods and with added fermented veggies will usually do the trick too.

  16. Elaine
    5 years ago

    Thank you so much for covering such a critical topic!
    If one seems to be doing the basics and is still having trouble with bowels, it is helpful to check out thyroid function and look for nutritional deficiencies. Examples include:
    – low thyroid function can be a key factor in constipation and happily there are many natural nutritional ways to improve/normalize thyroid function
    – defiency of magnesium is common these days and a contributing factor to slow bowels
    – deficiency in B12 can be a factor in digestion and bowel dysfunction.

    1. Christiane Northrup
      5 years ago

      The most common deficiency is magnesium. Milk of Magnesia is nothing but magnesium and is a common therapy for constipation. Better to just take extra magnesium daily. The most absorbable is ReMag from Dr. Carolyn Dean.

  17. Patricia
    5 years ago

    .After gastric bypass surgery, my stools became so loose all the time, I now have an Interstim implanted in my upper hip just to live a normal life. Now I fluctuate between both extremes. I know it can’t be good for me, but not sure what to do. I take probiotics, and eat plenty of fiber.

    1. Christiane Northrup
      5 years ago

      I would highly recommend that you make sure you are taking a highly absorbable multivitamin and mineral. Gastic bypass surgery does a number of nutrient absorption as you already know.

  18. Isha Sharma
    6 years ago

    Digestion problem is due to intake of fastfood,lack of sleep,environmental changes.Thank you for providing information on digestive problem.

    1. Christiane Northrup
      5 years ago

      you are most welcome. Christiane

  19. Emarie
    6 years ago

    Great information! I have foul smelling poop but it looks normal (3 & 4 in chart). So, I am wondering if I need more probiotics? Thank you!

    1. Christiane Northrup
      5 years ago

      I would definitely get your stool microbiome tested. ubiome is a good company and good place to start.

  20. Anna
    7 years ago

    I normally poop 3 times a week, my doctor told me this was ‘healthy’ and if you use it 2-3 times a day you have Diarrhea. This really made me question many things.

  21. sally wiebe
    8 years ago

    I am never, ever consistent. Either I have had to take Imodium for diarrhea or loose bowels or it goes the other way and I am bloated and gassy and miserable. I now, for 3 weeks have taken Cholocystine powder every morning. I was elated. No problem with explosive diarrhea – until now, of course. Now am under a great deal of stress. The stomach pain, loose bowel problem has reared it’s ugly head. I am so very tired, physically and mentally and my life is a mess. Have very little energy and find it difficult to continue on, if this, indeed is my life. Very interested in this site and will keep reading.

  22. Jennifer
    8 years ago

    Awesome article and love the chart!

  23. Sandy andrews
    8 years ago

    I have suffered for years with a see saw bowel. It’s either regular like clock work or its explosive diarrhea. No in between. Colonoscopies have shown no evidence of disease. I cannot travel without mapping available potties or resorting to Imodium for long distance. It is extremely limiting and frustrating. Just trying to go for a walk can be challenging.

  24. Ritam
    8 years ago

    What about colonics?

  25. Glenda
    8 years ago

    Great article. I am a school nurse and will be sponsoring a health fair for our high school students and want to have a short presentation on this. Any thoughts on where I can get some printable information on this and some plastic examples? Thank you!

  26. Lucy
    8 years ago

    Wow, I always wonder about these things. I take iron pills so, the color comes out greenish for this reason. Thank you for taking us there. 🙂 ~ Lucy

  27. Betty Wortham
    8 years ago

    I use a supplement named Calm. Its a magnesium drink i take at night. Ive always had chronic constipation and this has worked wonders. Thanks for the info!

    1. Ashling
      8 years ago

      Hi Betty,
      I too sound similar to your case. In what way has it changed your bowels? Do you only take it at night? Which one do you take? I have heard lots of people talk about this product but would be worried to become reliant on it. Thanks

      1. Chermm
        5 years ago

        My 23 yo daughter who was born with congenital hypothyroidism has been using this product and tthe Whole Foods cheaper brand for acouple yrs now and it really helps her with her constipation issues.

  28. Jasna
    8 years ago

    Thank you.. i always wonder what to do, because my regular “scedule” is once in two or three days, exept a few days before period. As long as i remember is like that and i think that is the reason of my large belly. What can i do besides healthy eating and probiotics?

  29. Cynd
    8 years ago

    That didn’t hurt at all! Very informative & Nicely done! Thank You I’ll pass it on!

  30. Barb
    8 years ago

    I am a little confused. I read another article you wrote several months ago, in which you said that squatty potty really didn’t work. You recommended leaning forward as if tying your shoes. Have you changed your mind about this? Leaning forward does seem to help me , if there are issues that day.

    1. Tammie
      5 years ago

      Squatty potty may be to high for some people. I find elevating my feet with something practical does feel more natural.

  31. Hilary Manley
    8 years ago

    Thank you for this (for me:) timely discussion. I have been trying to get answers; now at least I know what to look for and identify when I seek help. Bravo!

  32. Linda
    8 years ago

    Thank you for this wonderful article, Christiane. Yes, we can go there. I’m a daily, morning pooper–normally color and consistency are in the healthy numbers. For someone who has been on this earth for quite a few decades, pooping is one of the ways to start your positive, goddess, day. Over the years when we went on vacation I was like an RV holding tank. So comfort and routine is important. I DO drink coffee in the morning only–acts as a stimulant or diuretic. And I DO take a game or reading material with me–even if I usually have a “walk-off” within 2 minutes. Maybe it’s like having your rubber ducky or teddy bear with you for comfort. “Garbage in and Nothing out” was a helpful way of noticing my body wasn’t enjoying my offerings. Maybe magnesium would be helpful on trips?? Received a Squatty Potty for Christmas. Nice.

  33. Tammy
    8 years ago

    Great info Dr. C! Thank you for the scoop on poop…. XOXOX

  34. Elahe
    8 years ago

    Dear Doctor,
    Thanks for informations. I had a surgery years a go for Hemoroid but after 2 years I got a problem on the same spot, had problem in the toilet and I could see blood also horrible pain. I’ve got another surgery and I was fine till 2 weeks ago. Is it kinda fisser? How can I get well for ever??

    1. Evelyn Begay
      8 years ago

      Since last year, I started green drinking by blending: banana (1), spinach (handful), mango (for taste) mixed with distilled water. I haven’t had your bowel trouble, but I’m sure that I would have a similar story if I didn’t change my diet. I feel fantastic and this same recipe has reversed diabetes in two of my friends. Everyone wants a pill or drink, but taking care of yourself is all about commitment and sticking with it.

      Try REAL plants rather than a processed pill or drink. The plants provide nutrition that your body is probably asking for.

  35. Amanda Whitsel
    8 years ago

    I have a condition know as Gastroparesis I learned in me it was inherited and was exacerbated by how long a diagnosis was in coming being 48 years with an additional 7 years before I found the book Living Well with GP.

  36. Gini
    8 years ago

    Thank you Dr. Northrup. I do have a question though. My bowels have alway been perfect, but since I’ve been juicing every morning with wonderful fruits and veggies, my first bowel is very dark green (swamp thing) with the perfect # 4 shape. Then my next bowel later in the day is back to normal color.
    Should I be concerned about this very dark green color?

    1. Jennifer
      8 years ago

      I’ve had that happen when I’ve eaten a lot of avocado, so it wouldn’t surprise me if it was diet related. Check with doc to be sure.

  37. dragica
    8 years ago

    Thank you very much Dr Northrup. Recently I came across something similar, but I forgot where I saw it. So glad to find it again.
    When I was born, they forgot to insert ‘shame’ , so I find it silly to be shy talking about any bodily function to a doctor. Luckily, I never needed to – yet. I am doing my best to keep it that way. I eat mostly vegetables from my own garden, very little grains (pasta once a week or so) hardly any dairy, a liitle bit of meat.
    When I was informed of Dr Hyman’s 10 day sugar detox challenge, the next day I skipped my biscuit in the morning, and I never had it since. That’s quite a few months now. The funny thing about that is that I can’t remember actually deciding that I will take up the ‘challenge’. It just happened without me, so to speak. My daily intake of refind sugar is now 1 teaspoon in my small cup of ‘turkish’ coffee. Unfortunately I find it difficult to reach the water quantity, especially in winter when there is little physical activity. And I do have a glass of wine with lunch. So far so good.

  38. Farzaneh Kazemi
    8 years ago

    Dear Dr Northrap,
    Hi. Thank you so much

  39. Debby
    8 years ago

    Thank you for sharing this information Dr. Northrop. It’s a subject we seldom discuss but is most important to our health. Wish I knew all this when I was younger!

  40. Wendy
    8 years ago

    I learned about this while studying to be an integrated health coach. From my own experience I’ve learned that meat, dairy and refined white flour aggravates my stomach and shows in my poop. Making a few diet changes has improved my health and mood!

  41. Jennifer
    8 years ago

    I had my gallbladder removed because of a precancerous cyst and had nonstop diarrhea, lost a ton of weight and kept ending up in the ER for dehydration then got cdiff to add to the confusion. I begged for a test for cdiff of but kept being told it wasn’t runny enough and I should see a shrink so finally I went to the ER with a sample! I eventually had to have a fecal transplant and after a year later the GI doc told me I would always have this problem because of the gallbladder removal and to take micro colestipol. I have been house bound for three years and my body is exhausted and now I have hypothyroidism, CFS/ME, fibro, SIBO, heart disease. I was on a gluten, dairy free diet which was supposed to be the miracle cure but after all this time with no good results I started to add small amounts of gluten back into my diet to gain some weight. My whole body is shutting down and the more I go to the docs the worse I get. Thank you for all the info you have shared, it has helped me to keep positive and know when to see a doctor and when to use common sense.

    1. Gini
      8 years ago

      Hello Jennifer,
      I read your note and I’m so sorry you’ve been caught up in “symptom” world of the medical field. I don’t hammer Doctors, but I do know much more about “healing the body” than the average doctor does…….Dr. Northrup is the exception!
      I am an Energy Healer, HTP., Holistic Health Practitioner, HHP., Life Coach, and Spiritual Teacher. Your body has rejected almost every procedure you’ve encountered.
      If you are interested in healing your body, mind and spirit please feel free to look up my website and decide for yourself if this might be what you’re looking for: I send you only love for healing.
      Gini Gail

  42. Emily
    8 years ago

    Thanks for the blog! I learned a lot! I do have a question about color though — after I eat a sweet potato or yam, my poop is usually pretty orange, but is like a 2min walk away with almost no wipe, so I am assuming it is just extra yam being removed, not a blood issue or something, correct?

  43. Rene
    8 years ago

    love this info. and was just thinking of what they mean. Thank you for sharing! 🙂

  44. Susan
    8 years ago

    Wow Dr! This is the info everyone needs to know! Thank you for this educational blog!

  45. Nieves
    8 years ago

    I have known of Dr. Northrup for many years. I always find her books and other communication tools very helpful.

    I don’t like to think about a colonoscopy. Is there other ways to see the colon? If you have done a stool analysis and there is no occult blood, does this mean that there is nothing to makes me think that there is, even if the stool is dark brown?

    1. Brenda
      8 years ago

      I know that a colonoscopy doesn’t sound pleasant, but it really isn’t bad. You’re put into a semi-asleep state, and you won’t feel a thing. I was hesitant to have my first one, but it wasn’t bad at all. You do need to have someone drive you home, I think.

  46. Pam Roland
    8 years ago

    Excellent article here. Good info to know/ remember…
    And for more information, go to this site.
    Go here for more vital information on how to repair LEAKY GUT with a product developed by Dr. Zach Bush, an endocrinologist, board certified doctor. A natural, carbon mineral supplement, produced in Scottsville, Virginia!!!

  47. Jeannette
    8 years ago

    Thanks for that clear, matter
    of fact information. I love that you talk about what many don’t in such a straight forward manner.

  48. Donna
    8 years ago

    Wow that was a really great article I’m so glad you’re not afraid to talk about bowel movements because they’re so important to your health and no one ever talks about it so thank you thank you thank you you are always in the forefront of what’s important to women

  49. Britta
    8 years ago

    Dear Christiane Northrup
    I’m a small 154 cm woman living Denmark – 66 years – weight 51-52 kgs and my stool varies from normal 4 to 6. When I was young i suffered from constipation and overweight and approx 20 years ago i started taking a powder of 1/2 teaspoon i.e. 590 mg Calcium and 360 mg Magnesium. My constipation disappeared and my weight was no longer a big problem.
    Now I wonder why my stool varies that much. One reason might be that each morning i drink hot water with a piece of ginger cut in small pieces. Is ginger causing quick and loos stool? at special events like Christmas when eating a fatter diet than usual my stool is more like No 2. The colour is mostly ok apart from the mornings when it is a 6 and no colour is to be distinguished,
    I practice yoga and Pilates nearly every day and swim 1 km a week plus go in a sauna afterwards. I try to avoid sugar, drink 1 mug of coffe a day and 1-2 glasses of wine or beer. My diet is a mixture of wholgrain bread, vegetables, egs, kefir, milk, cheese, fish and meat (mostly chicken). I suffer from os osteoporosis, backpain and knee pains. Looking forward to your answer
    Best regards

  50. Natali
    8 years ago

    These are things I have often wondered! I have a more timely question however: Why does constipation occur when pregnant and how can I have the healthy bowel schedule I have when I’m not pregnant while pregnant? I’m dying here!! (7 weeks along on 3rd pregnancy and wondering how I survived 2 of these already!)

    Yesterday I went for an ultrasound and the OB literally could not find the pregnancy because I had too much bowel in there. Gross! My poor baby! Other than collace and water, which I can’t really keep down anyway, how can I make this tolerable?

    Thank you for this! I appreciate you so!

    1. Lyndsey
      8 years ago

      Try drinking lots more water.

      1. Lyndsey
        8 years ago

        Some fresh orange helps sometimes too.

  51. Donna
    8 years ago

    In most cities, the drinking water should be purified with some kind of good filtration system. Ideally, a glass with half a lemon squeezed into it, and a few grains of good sea salt, is a great way to restores my ph balance and dehydration first thing in the morning. Often, a trip to the loo follows soon after. I drink a lot more water now that I filter it.

  52. DS
    8 years ago

    Thanks for all this great info, it’s very helpful. Appreciate you being so brave to speak openly about poop!!

  53. Hannah Ransom
    8 years ago

    Great post! There is so much you can ;earn from simply observing your own body and what it does. It’s wonderful 🙂

  54. Joyce Oliver
    8 years ago

    Thanks for addressing such a vital part of our physiology – i’ve often worried about why my stool would change (assuming it was what i’d eaten). Now I will choose to pay attention, Stop, Look +Sniff ‘, & RELAX! We used to say, You are what you eat’ – i’ve reframed that to, ‘You are what you ASSIMILATE*’ Any reports on the effects of digestive enzymes on our poop? I’ve added them to my mealtimes with good benefits for the whole digestive cycle. Again, thank you

  55. A
    8 years ago

    The transition to menopause definitely has caused a change in the pooping routine and pretty much everything for that matter! Was always very “regular” until perimenopause. Really frustrating but trying to eat healthy and keep up the exercise. Doesn’t always work unfortunately. Thanks for this blog and the helpful information Dr. N!

  56. Nancy
    8 years ago

    Very helpful blog and poop chart! I just completed the Whole 30 diet (certain proteins, veggies, certain oils), which altered my poop – from the 2 category to the 4. I was concerned but now realize it’s good.

  57. Mary Tingaud L.Ac.
    8 years ago

    Thank you for this! As a Practitioner of Chinese Medicine we are trained to talk about body fluids with “poop” being an important topic. I will use these diagrams. MD’s (in general) NEVER ask these questions.

  58. Debbie
    8 years ago

    Thank you. Good information. I forwarded it to my husband, who I would like to be an Ageless God.

  59. Lynda
    8 years ago

    Thank you, Christiane, for a thorough discussion and the visuals. The symptoms list is great, too. As a non-medical person who (literally) rarely needs more than a bandaid to deal with personal health, it’s hard to know what exactly is a symptom a doctor should check out. I don’t want to get neurotic about every little twinge. I have bookmarked this post to my Health folder for future reference should I need it.

  60. Diane
    8 years ago

    I just had a bowel resection a month ago. Still waiting for my normal bowel function to return. About 30 years ago I trained my bowels to empty within the first hour after I am awake. The reason being I wanted to have at least one regular bowel movement each day. I have had issues all my life with digestion starting with having colic until I was 18 months old. So now in addition to acid reflex. gastritis. and a spastic colon I now have diverticulitis .

  61. Annette
    8 years ago

    Great article, Christiane. Thank you!

  62. Georgina MacLaurin
    8 years ago

    Thank you Dr.Northrup – I will pass this on to all my family. I went to boarding school at the age of 9 and one of the benefits was the “TRAINING” of my bowels, very simple, after breakfast we all had to visit the toilets, when we came out we had to tell Matron if we were “a tick”… not being “a tick” meant being given a laxative|! My bowels quickly learnt to conform and be “regular”!! In those days one never told lies so Matron could rely on being told the truth.

  63. Meike
    8 years ago

    Thanks for this not talked about subject!
    As a child I dealt with chronic constipation, which regulated itself once I lived on my own.
    My adult (I’m 62 now) habits vary between type 4,5,6. Usually once a day upon rising.
    I have blamed sugar (I love dark chocolate and cookies!) for discomfort and bloating, but at times it’s clearly the green leafy vegetables on sugar free days.
    I guess it’s just normal for me. I’m of normal weight, I run/walk several miles daily, drink up to a gallon of water daily, fresh fruits and vegetables are my main foods, some meats, eggs,nuts, grains.

  64. Lee Humphreys
    8 years ago

    It’s so great to read this. When I lived in Hong Kong, one of the first questions asked by a Chinese doctor was, “Describe your poop!” It was considered to be an important diagnostic tool.

  65. Petula
    8 years ago

    Should you be able to see things like sweet corn in your poop

    1. Lyndsey
      8 years ago

      Either you are not chewing enough or you have difficulty digesting it. I always find seeds in mine, I don’t digest them well.

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