Call 207 200 6597

The Perfect Poop

As a naturopathic doctor I ask everyone about their bowel movements (poop!) I’m not afraid of talking about it at the dinner table even, much to the chagrin of some dinner guests. Something that I have found though is that no one is ever really put out by my inquiry into their poop. They may be surprised that I’m asking, but most people are eventually more than willing to share what’s happening for them. And I think I know why. Because it’s taboo! And it’s something everyone does. How can that be?! Something that most people do once to a few times a day, or every few days, is almost never discussed. Though recent products on the market (ahem the Squatty Potty) have begun to bring pooping into the light, there is still a lot to uncover about “the night soil”.

I’ve sat through lectures, read books, and am now listening to podcasts where poop is the main topic. And what I’ve gleaned from this all is that there seems to be an agreement on what constitutes “the perfect poop”. It’s a bit mythical, this perfect poop. Sort of a unicorn among horses. But it is attainable! Maybe not right away, but with some diet modifications, lifestyle changes, and hormonal and nervous system regulation, the perfect poop can be yours the majority of your days.

Ok, so what is it? What does it look, feel, smell like? First let’s think about anatomy and physiology. When we consume a meal it takes 1-3 hours to leave the stomach after being churned and mixed with stomach acid and enzymes. It then enters our intestines, first the small intestine which is only small in diameter, but very long in length, about 20 feet. In the small intestine your stomach-acidified meal is neutralized and further enzymes get to work in this new environment. The surface area in the small intestine is increased by the presence of small finger-like projections called villi. The villi absorb nutrients released by the digestion of the food by enzymes. Bile from the liver is added and mixed in and fats, sugars, and proteins are broken down, packaged up, and passed into the cells. What is left of the ingested food (fiber mostly) continues moving through the small intestine to the large intestine. It is here that water is reabsorbed, and bacteria make nutrients for us like vitamin K. The large intestine is also known as the colon, and it is relatively short about 5 feet, with a larger diameter, and is divided into three large sections: ascending, transverse, and descending, and two smaller sections: sigmoid and rectum. The ascending begins near your right hip, rises to just below your ribcage, where it is then called the transverse that crosses your abdomen horizontally and turns into the descending colon. The descending colon descends to about the left hip and turns into the sigmoid colon and further along the rectum and anus! All of this anatomy is to illustrate that there is a long way for the food to go from the mouth to the anus. It takes about 8 hours on average. So now that we know this let’s dive into what the food looks like on its way out.

The urge to defecate should signal you to move towards the toilet, but not in an urgent way as if there could be an accident if you didn’t heed the first urge! Often the urge will come after eating a meal or drinking a large glass of warm liquid. This is because the stretch on the filled stomach signals the muscles in your digestive tract that more volume is coming, and it needs to make room, you have just experienced the gastrocolic reflex. Once to the toilet you position yourself over the bowl and within seconds have produced your poop without any pushing, straining, or long minutes of waiting. The length of the poop should be about equal to the length of your wrist to forearm (the rectum’s length) and be either one or a few pieces. The edges are smooth, there are no cracks in it, and it’s tapered at the end. Depending on your diet, there should not be any large chunks of undigested food studding your stool. Though we all know that corn and some raw vegetables often leave looking much the same as they went in, which is completely normal. The poop should sink to the bottom of the toilet and have no foul or repulsive odor. Then you wipe, and nothing should come off on the paper, but up to 3 wipes is fine. Anything over 3 wipes and you may have a problem!

So, there it is. The perfect poop. How many of you have experienced this kind of poop? And if you have is it a regular occurrence or is a rare? Want to know how to reach this defecation nirvana? Let’s talk.




Thank you to Dr. Meghan Walker and her Entrepology podcast for interviewing Dr. Marisol Teijeiro (The Queen of Thrones) and Dr. Anita Davis and inspiring me to write this post.

Leave a Comment