August 25, 2019 at 12:00PM by CWC
People say that perfection is overrated. They’ve clearly never experienced the joys of a satisfying a.m. bowel movement. And, medical professionals agree, a healthy stool is a great indicator that your pipes are in tip-top shape and your body is getting the proper nutrients.
But what, exactly, is the Platonic ideal of a poo? A functional medicine doctor and a gastroenterologist give me a checklist for what your poop should look like.
1. It’s brown
“The first [thing] is color,” says gastroenterologist Niket Sonpal, MD. “Stool should be consistent in color.”
According to the Mayo Clinic, all shades of brown tick this box. Greens, light-colored whites, yellows, black, and reds, meanwhile, all call for a visit to your doctor. If a peek into the bowl reveals a Pantone-style match for the classic poop emoji, you’re one step closer to the perfect plop.
2. It has a “Goldilocks” texture
The next poo-criteria has to do with consistency, according to Dr. Sonpal and functional medicine doctor Mark Hyman, MD. At Butt-Con—a real event in New York City that bidet brand Tushy threw last week—Dr. Hyman said a good number two shouldn’t be too hard.
“The quality should be not too hard and not too soft—it’s a Goldilocks phenomenon,” Dr. Sonpal elaborates. “You also shouldn’t see any undigested food chronically. It’s fine to see some corn on the way out, but if it’s happening chronically, then that may be a sign that your body’s not getting enough nutrients or a sign of malabsorption.”
3. It sinks (not stinks)
Next up? Check the toilet for any floaters. “When your stool floats, that means there’s a lot of fat in it and your intestines are potentially damaged,” says Dr. Sonpal.
If your poo is bobbing like a buoy with some frequency, Parsley Health nutritionist Adrienne Dowd previously told Well+Good that she recommends asking your doctor about digestive enzymes that could help your stools sink, not swim.
4. It’s easy like Sunday morning
Last, but certainly not least, a healthy stool shouldn’t require excess, erm, effort to eliminate, said Dr. Hyman. It should feel as relaxing as sitting on a velvet throne.
“There should be no strain while passing,” Dr. Sonpal explains. “When people sit, they should have one to two major pushes where everything comes out in a vacuum.” If you see small, pellet-like stools in the toilet bowl (which Dr. Sonpal calls “rabbit poops”), then you’re likely constipated and could likely benefit from some fiber.
Should you somehow check all four of the Perfect Poop boxes, congratulations! You’re an all-star.
Core work is the best exercise for “promotion of poopage,” so try this 7-minute, mid-section-targeting yoga flow the next time you’re constipated.