1 gram of your poo contains more bacteria than there are humans on Earth – in fact, poo is approximately 40% bacteria. The state of our poo tells us a great deal about the state of our gut microbiome and our gut health in general. Germans are happy to look at their poo; to talk about their poo – they even design their toilets with a handy landing platform for their poo, so that they can inspect it easily before they flush. We need to be less British about this topic and more German.
Have a look at the Bristol Stool Scale chart – are you often a type 1 or 2? Or are you frequently rushing to the loo to release a type 7? Perhaps you do not know what your poos generally look like?
Well-formed poos (types 3 or 4) are the sign of a healthy system; they also help to keep our large intestine healthy. The catch-phrase I can be heard saying to my family is “look down the loo after you poo.”
Research is increasingly suggesting that changes in bowel habits may signal unhelpful shifts in our gut microbiome and are connected to the development of some illnesses – for example – Parkinson’s sufferers can have persistent changes in bowel habits up to 15 years before the neurological symptoms develop. This is not a reason to panic, but it is a reason to pay attention to persistent changes in your poo and seek advice about it.
Poo is increasingly looking to be an important diagnostic tool, as well as a new form of treatment. In terms of diagnostics, I have written about stool testing already. In terms of treatment – fecal microbial transplants have had an impressive success rate in treating Clostridium difficile infections and there is research suggesting its potential in treating diabetes, autism, depression and other health issues.
So, don’t underestimate the power of your poo – harness it.