By Sarah JioSee why minor lifestyle tweaks can make a major difference for your overall well-being
Does it ever feel like you have to spend hours and hours at the gym, change your diet dramatically or jump way out of your comfort zone to reap any rewards in the health department? Think again. Our experts say that these small changes can have significant health payoffs.
1. Floss more often.
According to Robert Emami, DDS, chief of staff at Dental Specialties, a multispecialty practice...
But asking some important questions about your bowel movements might give you some insight into your gastrointestinal health. Here's the scoop on poop.
ABCs of Poop
Bowel movements are the end result of your body taking the nutrients it needs from the food you eat and eliminating what's left.
“Bowel movements are important for your health because they are the body’s natural way of excreting waste from the body,” says Eric Esrailian, MD, section head in general gastroenterology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.
When it comes to frequency, color, shape, and size, a general rule of thumb is that normal bowel movements are defined as what’s comfortable for you. But being knowledgeable about your digestive process can help you identify when normal goes awry.
Frequency: “There is no normal when it comes to frequency of bowel movements, only averages” says Bernard Aserkoff, MD, a doctor in the GI Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
It’s average to go once or twice a day, he says, but many people go more, and some go less -- maybe every other day, and or as infrequently as once or twice a week. As long as you feel comfortable, you don’t need to give your BMs much thought.
Color: “Bowel movements are generally brown in color because of bile, which is produced in the liver and important to the digestion process,” Aserkoff tells WebMD.
The food you eat typically takes three days from the time you eat it until it finishes its journey in your toilet, Aserkoff says. If it takes a shorter time, the result may be greener stool because green is one of the first colors in the rainbow of the digestive process.
Color can be a red flag when it’s a drastic change, Aserkoff says.
“If stool is black, it can mean that you are bleeding internally, possibly as a result of an ulcer or cancer,” he says. Stool that is black due to bleeding is also "sticky" (tarry) and smells bad. However, black stools are common when taking a vitamin that contains iron or medications that contain bismuth subsalicylate.