What the Consistency of Your Stool Is Telling you

Tuesday, 23 Nov 2010 12:39 PM

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We all know the importance of a nutritious diet for keeping the body fit, but only a few are aware of the fact that a good digestive system and complete bowel evacuation are an integral part of good health.

The quality of life we lead depends in part on our stomach. The foods that we eat undergo digestive action by various enzymes in the bowel, where the nutrients get absorbed, and the undigested portion is expelled as feces. Throwing out this unwanted matter from the body not only cleanses the bowel but also frees the body of toxins.
 
Practitioners of alternative medicine place emphasis on the importance of good digestion and bowel evacuation for good health. Ayurvedic texts describe bowel evacuation as the most important part of a daily regime.

Normal stool consistency should be semisolid; it is somewhat like toothpaste: neither hard nor very liquid. This normal stool consistency implies that the eating habits and the digestive system are in harmony. An experienced physician can analyze dietary habits and bowel health by looking at the stool. Apart from stool consistency, there are various other characteristics like color, smell, and mass of feces used to differentiate between healthy and unhealthy stools. The ease or difficulty with which one passes feces can also illustrate whether a person is healthy.
 
Stool consistency can be hard, mucoid, or liquid. Hard stool consistency signifies inadequate water intake; it might tell that the diet is deficient in fruits and vegetables (fiber). This condition, called constipation, slows down bowel movement, resulting in feces staying inside the body for a long time and ultimately becoming hard. The sufferer has to strain to pass feces, which may cause fissures. Hard feces may also come out as pencil thin stools and pellet like stools.

Traditional Chinese medicine believes that “deficient spleen energy” produces pencil-thin, hard feces, which may be due to stress or overexertion. Bowel obstruction caused by some rectal polyps, prostate cancer, and colon cancer may also cause pencil-hard stools. Similarly, if the energy of the liver becomes obstructed, small, round pellet-shaped feces are produced.
 
The stool consistency may change over time and due to various circumstances. The stool may become softer than normal. Watery feces may be the result of an infection or malabsorption. Sometimes, gluten intolerance, milk intolerance, and celiac disease may also produce loose stools.  
 
One change in stool consistency may be the stool becoming sticky due to the presence of mucous. This condition implies that the lower digestive tract is inflamed, which may be caused be amebiasis or giardiasis.
 
A healthy bowel is a mainstay of good health. Healthy bowels indicate that the digestive and the cleansing functions are being carried out smoothly. Our health depends on the movement of our bowels, and the health of our bowels depends upon what we eat and what we evacuate.

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