We all do it, but for some reason the state of your poo remains a taboo subject.
Stool gets its brown hue from bile, a greenish-brown fluid that aids digestion.
But the exact shade varies from person to person and from day to day
Many things can change the colour of stool, including vitamins, infections and certain foods.
Some underlying medical problems, such as gallbladder and liver disease, can also change stool (poo) colour.
While others may be far more serious and could signal cancer.
With this in mind, what could the different colours spotted in your loo indicate and when should you speak to your GP?
Stool gets its normal brownish colour from bile, which is excreted into the small intestine during the digestive process.
If the liver doesn't produce bile, or if bile is obstructed from leaving the liver, stool will be light coloured or white.
Problems with the gallbladder, pancreas or liver are reasons why poo may not contain enough bile.
People who have consistently pale stools may want to talk to a doctor about conditions that affect these organs.
“Pale stool, especially if it is white or clay coloured, can indicate a serious health problem,” says Medical News Today.
It added: “Diseases of the liver, gallbladder and pancreas can quickly become life-threatening. However, these diseases are usually treatable.
“The longer a problem with these important organs continues, the more likely it is to cause lasting harm or damage other organs.
“So, it is important to err on the side of caution and quickly see a doctor for pale stool.”
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Most cases of black poo are from eating black foods or iron supplements.
Stool that is black due to blood indicates a problem in the upper GI tract.
“A bleeding ulcer is the most common concerning cause of dark stools,” explains WebMD.
The health site continued: “An ulcer is an open sore on the inside of your stomach or small intestine.
“Sometimes these sores bleed. This can make your poop dark.”
Blood in your poo
Noticing blood in your stools is a symptom of conditions like haemorrhoids, anal fissures, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), ulcers and bowel cancer.
Typically, you will notice rectal bleeding on toilet paper, in the water of the toilet bowl or in your stool.
“See your GP if you are worried about any symptoms that you think could be caused by cancer in the bowel,” says Cancer Research UK.
It added: “Most often, blood in the stool is from piles (haemorrhoids), especially if it is bright red, fresh blood.”
Different types of food are known to impact a person’s digestion and could be responsible for a change in colour.
A food intolerance testing kit helps you to figure out where you may have sensitivities.
Dr Claire Shortt, Nutritionist and Lead Scientist at Food Marble said: “The food intolerance testing kit and 6-Week Discovery Plan is a FODMAP testing and breath testing program designed to help you find the foods that work with your unique digestive system.
In six weeks, you will test your tolerance to for hard-to-digest food components; Lactose, Fructose, Sorbitol, and Inulin.
“The plan is broken down into three stages, Baseline, Reset, and Discovery. Each stage is important and is part of the journey to healing your gut.”
Dr Robin Clark, medical director for Bupa Global & UK, said: “Thinking or talking about toilet habits might make you feel uncomfortable, but ultimately being in tune with your bowels could save your life.
"If anything doesn't look or feel right, or you’ve noticed an unexplained change of some sort, it’s crucial that you seek medical help immediately, no matter what your age.
"When caught early, 98% of people with bowel cancer will survive for a year or more, compared to almost half the number when the disease is diagnosed at the latest stage.
"That’s why it’s also important to attend cancer screening invitations."
He added:“In addition, there are some simple lifestyle changes that people can adapt which will make a real difference. Things like increasing their intake of fruit and vegetables, and other high-fibre food, minimising alcohol consumption and maintaining a healthy weight will all reduce the risk of developing problems later down the line.”
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