Regular and healthy poop is approximately seventy five percent water. Of course diarrhea is sometimes called watery stool and contains a much larger percentage of water. Conversely, constipated stools contain much less water. The remaining twenty five percent of poop is dead intestinal bacteria that was used to digest food.
Additionally, some of poop is undigested food and dietary fiber used to help the poop travel the digestive system. Feces also contain iron which is one of the body minerals and the iron gives stools the brown color.
The normal poop color is usually brown poop, but that can change and depends on many factors like hydration, how long the stool has been in the digestive tract, the intestines or the colon or somewhere along the anal canal. If poop becomes dark it could be something known as melena which is a sign of bleeding somewhere along the gastrointestinal tract. Fortunately, not all dark feces have blood. Sometimes the black color is a result of having dried up inside the body. There are many different colors of feces.
If there is any poop color or shape that should be alarming, it should be black poop because it can be a sign of quite severe problems in the digestive tract.
The shape of stools. Healthy human feces resemble a long sausage that is usually soft in texture. Hardened poop can mean that you need to drink more water and fluids. Light stools can mean that it is something harmless called Gilber's Syndrome, or a possible digestive virus from parasites. To diagnose the cause of the light-colored stool, it is necessary to do a digestion test. Another possible type of stool shape is narrow stool which can be due to a blockage (inflammation or unusual growths along the digestive tract). Learn about monitoring your defecation.
Poop smells can be quite different based on what happens during digestion and any existing health conditions a person may have. Bacteria produce and use many chemicals like indole, skatole and many others. More about the gasses in the body
There are many possible digestive problems that can show themselves in the stool that is produced after the digestive process. Stool can have blood, mucus, have unusual shape, smell, or overall bowel movement frequency. All these factors are important to monitor as your digestive system is one of the most important systems in the body, and can tell you a lot about what is going on with your health. For more about maintaining proper digestive health and how to improve your digestive health, take a look at our gastrointestinal health page.
There are many ways to find and diagnose problems with digestion and poop. Some of them require stool samples and some focus on imaging techniques in order to find possible root causes of the problems.
Many people think that the colonoscopy test is the main form of test for digestive tract problems, but that isn't quite true. Colonoscopy tests the large intestine only, and is not performed most of the time due to insurance, financial or logical restrictions. It is a very involved and invasive test that is nearly never the first test performed by a doctor.
Digestion isn't all about the feces that comes out during defecation. The digestive tract is quite complicated, and there are many different organs, each with their own job. To gain a fuller understanding of what is happening in your digestive tract, pay attention to the gasses in your body. Belching may be a sign of acid reflux, and excessive gas may also be indicative that something isn't right.