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Elimination of feces is an important daily process which serves to clear the bowels in order to eliminate parts of food that we cannot process or that are not useful to us.

Look, color, consistency, and shape of the stool highly depend on the type of the food we eat, although some changes in stool properties can be indicators of pathological processes in the digestive tube.

Normal Stool

Definition of normal stool is very wide as there are many normal varieties regarding color, shape, consistency, defecating frequency, etc. Stool contains a high amount of water, like all the other products of human metabolism. It is estimated that water makes up more than 70 percent of mass of the stool.

Thirty percent of solid matter is consisted of bacteria which make up the normal flora of the colon, among which are also dead bacteria. Another 30 percent is made up of indigestible fibers from food. Cholesterol and inorganic substances make up the rest of the mass, along with a small amount of protein. The shape of the stool is very variable, but if there are sudden changes, they should be given proper attention.

How To Examine Your Stool

Although it may seem a bit embarrassing to speak about, it is not a bad idea to look at the toilet after defecating once in a while, especially if you notice some changes.

Normally, stool should be medium-soft, easy to pass, and formed into one long shape. It should be S-shaped, as it is the shape of the ending part of the colon. The texture of the stool should be homogenous in color and consistency.

Signs Of Unhealthy Stool

If the stool is hard to pass, requires effort and produces pain, it may be a result of improper nutrition and poor hydration. Narrow shaped stools in the form of a ribbon or strain can be a first sign of obstruction of any lower part of the intestine. The causative factors range from bad hemorrhoids to a colon tumor.

If narrow feces happen only occasionally, do not be worried, but if it is constant or frequent, please contact your physician.

If the stool is white or pale it can be the result of a hepatic problem (liver cirrhosis, pancreatitis, obstruction of bile ducts). Supplements that eliminate gastric acid (antacids) can also result in white stool. Yellow colored stools combined with a bad smell can indicate a bowel infection, especially if other symptoms include abdominal pain, cramps, vomiting, and high temperature. Viral infections require treatment with probiotics, hydration, and rest, while for bacterial infections, antibiotics should also be added.

Any foreign bodies and unusual formations of the stool content are, of course, abnormal and should be further examined. In that case, you should visit your physician who will probably order stool culture to check for presence of parasites and other containments.

In order to keep your digestive tract healthy, you should do all the things that are generally considered healthy: proper hydration, more exercise, more food rich in fibers, and avoiding emotional stress. If you are diagnosed with a disease of the digestive system, such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, and celiac disease you should pay special attention to your nutritional habits and lifestyle in general.

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