What is Poop Made of?

We all know that we need to poop regularly, but have you ever wondered what was in your poop?

Funnily enough, our bowel habits and how our stool looks can say a lot about the health of our gut, diet, hydration status, and general health. 

In this article, we will explore the importance of stool health and the factors that influence it. 

Let's take a look. 

So - What is Poop?

'Poop' or human faeces in roughly 75% water and 25% solid waste from our colon.

It consists of the foods we consume that have been broken down by bacteria in the large intestine. Faeces also contain a relatively small amount of fats, protein, mucus, bile, plant fibres, cellular lining, and a collection of other substances that our bodies are not able to digest. This 25% also contains an invisible mixture of microbes—archaea, bacteria, and viruses—both living and dead.1 

Most healthy faeces tend to be shades of brown in colour.  Stool colour tends to be influenced by what we eat as well as by the amount of bile — a yellow-green fluid that digests fats — present in our stool.1 

How Should We Poop?

We are taught how to poop from a young age.  The proper position to poop is generally considered a squat position. 

Emptying bowels in a squatting position has been shown to provide a clearer exit for your bowel movements, allowing gravity to help the bowels empty naturally,  cutting down on the strain on your muscles as you poop3.  This is why we use potties with infants to encourage a squatting position. 

The 'squatty potty' is a recent development that is aiming to change and improve the way we poop! The stool-like device allows us to maintain a posture with raised feet that unfurls our colon and gives our faecal matter a clearer run from our gut to the bowel. 

This has been found to support our pelvic floor and reduce bloating, constipation, and excess straining linked to haemorrhoids.3 

If you are looking to improve the way you poop, it might be worth checking this device out.

What Your Stool Says About Your Health

Amazingly, your stool can provide a huge insight into our health. It can give us clues about our diet, fluid intake, medication use, and lifestyle. It can reveal several factors, such as: 

  1. Hydration status

  2. Levels of infection, including worms or parasites 

  3. Cancer risk 

  4. Absorption issues 

  5. Levels of stress

  6. Food intolerances

  7. Diet and fibre intake 

  8. Gut bacteria profile 

One of the best ways to examine your stool is using the bristol stool chart.4 


It is a clinical assessment tool that classifies faeces into seven groups. Medical professionals use this chart, which is a great tool for anyone looking to monitor and improve their bowel movements. 


According to the bristol stool chart : 

 The Bristol Stool Chart can help us understand how quickly food travels through the digestive system and identify effective treatments for bowel-related conditions.4 Healthcare providers can also use the chart to understand our gastrointestinal health better.4 

Reference: First published:  Lewis, S. J., & Heaton, K. W. (1997). Stool form scale as a useful guide to intestinal transit time.

Generally, we should keep an eye on our stool. A change in your stool isn't always a concern, but it's best to monitor it. 

Anyone who has diarrhoea or constipation for more than 2 – 3 days or has stools that are black, tarry, very light, pale or grey in colour, or sees blood in their stool, should contact their GP or health professional. 

Breaking the Taboo with Poo

Poop talk is generally considered a 'joke' or a 'funny subject', but it is actually a hugely important insight into our general health, diet and gastrointestinal health and can show anything from IBS to bowel cancer.1 It can also say a lot about the balance of our gut bacteria. 

For example, loose or runny stools can indicate digestive distress, while blood in the stool can indicate cancer.1 

Faecal immunochemical tests (FIT) are now part of the NHS bowel screening procedure and are given to everyone aged 50 and over to help test for bowel cancer or bacterial infections.2 Stool analysis is, therefore, a routine part of healthcare. 


In conclusion, our stool can say a lot about our health and should be taken seriously. We should keep a general eye on it from time to time to ensure we are producing healthy and well-formed stools. 

Having healthy stools means that we are digesting and processing our meals well, and that our colon is running efficiently, and our gut microbes are doing their job! 


If you found this article interesting, check out:

Do probiotics help constipation?

How Much Fibre Do We Need To Eat Per Day?

What is Bowel Cancer?

References → 1

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