The Collison Newsletter December 2008

  

                SHOULD  FAECES  FLOAT or SINK?*   

One of the frequently asked questions is “Why do some faeces float and others sink?” And, additionally, “Does it matter?”.

 

The fact that the question re floaters or sinkers is frequently asked indicates that the answer is of great concern to the masses.

Faeces Health Quiz 

Faeces can be a barometer to one’s health.

·        Do they float?

·        How firm are they?

·        How much do they weigh?

·        How often do you evacuate?

·        What colour are your faeces?

·        Do your faeces smell?

·        How are your faeces shaped?

Bowel Movements 

The subject of ‘Bowel Movement’ is relevant to all of us. Every single person who has ever lived on planet earth has had a bowel movement almost every day of their life. No matter who you are, or where you live, you have spent a few minutes of every day involved in a bowel movement. This is probably such a private matter that you feel uncomfortable talking about it. What you flush down the toilet is a daily reflection of what is going on in your body. The next time you use the toilet, stop and take a private moment to look at your faeces to see the result of your diet.

 

Let us approach this subject by looking at the above series of questions, leaving the question about floaters or sinkers until last.

How firm or hard should the faeces be? 

Healthy faeces should be like toothpaste. They should not be too soft, or too hard (definitely not hard little balls) and not too liquid. They should stay together well. You should not have to strain.

 

Generally, if they are too hard and there is constipation, having to strain to open the bowels, it is an indication that there is not enough fibre in the diet. This can be remedied by eating foods such as whole grain breads and cereals, plenty of fresh whole (non processed) fruit and vegetables (especially raw), fresh juices and dried fruits.

How much should the daily evacuation weigh?  

This is, of course, a variable thing. It is suggested that a ‘normal’ evacuation should be two pieces a day, each about 2-3cm in diameter and about 15cm in length. They should weigh in excess of 200 grams.

How Many Evacuations a Day? 

It is suggested that a healthy person will have two to three bowel movements every day. All people need to, or should, evacuate at least once a day. When food is eaten, there is a gastro-colic reflex. The reflex activates the colon to evacuate, to make space for the ingested food. With the right diet, this would result in an evacuation after each meal. If you do not “go” at least once a day, then you are probably constipated. Diarrhoea would be more than three times a day, with watery faeces.

What colour should the faeces be? 

Faeces will most often be light to dark brown in colour. There should never be blood present. If present, the blood could be red on the surface or mixed into the faeces, or if the bleeding has occurred higher up in the gastrointestinal tract, the stool would appear black or tarry in colour (this is called malaena). The presence of blood is serious. Likewise, stools that are very light or pale in colour could indicate a serious condition.

What about the smell? 

The smell of the faeces is a direct result of the type of foods and drinks consumed. Generally speaking, the faeces will smell worse with a high animal content (meats, fish, dairy products and eggs) and foods with added chemicals such as artificial flavours etc. To reduce the offensive odour, eat a plant-based diet, mainly of natural (unprocessed) foods.

What is a good shape? 

Well formed stools are soft and flexible. They have a good texture, volume and weight and are passed easily. They make a clean exit from the body and hold their shape.

Do they float or sink? 

A good diet will result in the faeces, the stool, sinking to the bottom of the bowl. The recommended diet is plant-based and low in fat. This is a healthy diet, and on this diet the stools generally sink.

 

What makes stools float? It could be due to too much fat in the faeces. This is definitely true in certain diseases like cystic fibrosis and celiac disease. More likely they float because of the presence of gas. Increased levels of air and gas in the stool make it less dense, and cause it to float. A diet high in animal fat and protein can lead to an increase in the amount of gas produced by the bacteria that live in the gut. Lowering the fat content of the food will generally make the stools sink.

Conclusion 

If you are living a healthy lifestyle, with the proper diet, your bowel movements should follow a strict pattern, with well-formed stools, soft with a good texture volume and weight and easily passed.

 

Your faeces are not just something you flush away. They are a barometer of your diet and health, and demonstrate what is going on inside your body.

 

*Copyright 2008: The Huntly Centre.

Disclaimer: All material in the huntlycentre.com.au website is provided for informational or educational purposes only. Consult a health professional regarding the applicability of any opinions or recommendations expressed herein, with respect to your symptoms or medical condition.

 

  

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