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The Shit Show

Let’s talk about poop. Poo, stool, shit, BM, number two, crap, feces, excrement, and the list goes on. Why is it that there are so many words for stool, everybody does it, but nobody talks about it? Why do we do it? Why is it always brown? What is the ideal transit time, shape, and texture? And what does it tell us about our health? Let's unpack.

What is poop?

We all eat to stay alive and provide our body with fuel to keep the engine running. For our body to benefit from nutrients we consume, we have the digestive system where food enters the system through our mouth, moves on to the stomach, small intestine, large intestine and eventually leaves to body via the anus. Each phase has its own function, and everything is centered around breaking down the food for the nutrients to be absorbed and transported to the right places in the body. The food that cannot be digested and waste products of the digestive process leave the body in the form of ….right….poop.

Why is poop always brown?

The brown colour comes from the pigment stercobilin produced by bacteria in the large intestine. The brown colour can vary between light brown to dark brown and that is normal.

What does your poop say about your health?

Poop can give you insights into your digestive health an overall wellness. Checking your poop can help identify potential problems, including infection, digestive disorders, and nutrient deficiencies. It can also be helpful in monitoring the effectiveness of treatments.

The Bristol Stool Chart is a tool developed in 1997 and is used to classify the human stool into 7 categories (see below).

At this moment Zoe, a health science company, is running a large-scale study, The Big Poo Review, inviting hundreds of thousands of people from diverse backgrounds across the UK with the hope to greatly exceed any prior work in this area so poo problems can be recognized much earlier.

The study is conducted in the UK and only accessible for UK residents. I’ll make sure to share the results of this study with you when they are published.

Bristol Stool Chart

Transit Time

Do you know what your transit time is or in other words, how long it takes for food to go from entering your mouth to leaving your body?

An easy way to find out is eating a tablespoon of corn for breakfast and see how long it takes to come out on the other side. Corn is high in cellulose, a non-soluble fiber and therefore cannot be digested, hence detectable in your poop.

What does transit time tells you about your digestive health?

“Normal transit time is between 14-50 hours”, according to nutritional sciences professor Sarah Berry, PhD. And ideally below 24 hours according to genetic epidemiology professor Tim Spector, MD.

Transit time that is lower might indicate that food is passing too quickly through your digestive system preventing the absorption of all the nutrients from your food. If the transit time is higher this means that too much water is drawn out of your stool which might cause constipation.

In addition to that, the microbes living in your colon live of the carbohydrates and when the transit time is too high, carbs run out and the bacteria start to eat from leftover protein, which changes the by-products. Instead of the bowel-restoring compounds, they now generate by-products that might damage the cells of the bowel directly, according to Henrik Munch Roager from the National Food Institute at the Technical University of Denmark.

So, knowing your transit time and adjusting it might be beneficial for your gut health and overall health.

What can I do to improve my transit time?

Different factors play a role in the transit time including what you have eaten, the level of activity, the level of stress you experience and your overall health.

Here is what you can do.

Movement – Food passes through your digestive systems through peristalsis or muscle contractions. Exercise can increase your metabolism which make the muscle contractions more frequent.

Fiber – Eat more fiber rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains. These will add bulk to your stool and help the bowel to push your food along. When you are looking to increase your fiber intake, do it gradually to avoid side effects such as gas, bloating or stomach pain.

Hydration – Drink enough water. Water helps to keep the stool moist which improves transit time. Everybody’s needs are different but an average of 2 liter of total fluid intake is a good start.

If you experience digestive issues or want to optimize your gut health, feel free to reach out to me. I can help you. E-mail me: hello@mrsgreen.nl


Dr. Adrian Schulte – Poep jezelf wijzer

Fiber Fueled – Will Bulsiewicz


Gut transit time can be big indicator of your digestive health by Helen Foster

How long it takes you to poop after eating, can tell you a ton about your gut, and overall, health by Emily Laurence

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