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Break the ta-poo

It’s no laughing matter – looking at your ‘number twos’ can actually tell you a lot about your health

Did you know?

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    Your knees should be higher than your hips when you sit on the toilet. Check out the ideal poo-sition below…

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What’s in a poo hue?

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    Brown is generally considered normal, but poo colour can be affected by foods (such as beetroot, cranberries, spinach or liquorice) and medicines. Yet changes in appearance may mean something isn’t right, so if you notice anything different, especially any of the below, see your GP.

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    Red streaks could indicate bleeding from the lower part of the digestive tract.


    Iron supplements can turn poo black – or it could mean bleeding in the upper digestive tract.


    It may be bile pigment in the stool, caused by food moving too quickly through the gut, meaning the bile can’t break down.


    Clay coloured or very pale stools could be an indication that your bile duct is blocked.

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…is the number of litres of water you should aim to drink each day. You might associate this with number ones, but it’s important for bowels, too, helping to keep things regular.

Shape shifter

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    We all have different bowel habits, and according to the Bristol Stool Chart (actually a thing!), there are seven types of poo. Here they are, and what they may mean…*

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    1. Small, separate hard lumps You may be constipated.

    2. Sausage-shaped, with hard lumps You could be a bit constipated.

    3. Sausage-shaped, with cracks on the surface A good stool.

    4. Sausage-like, smooth and soft Another perfect poo.

    5. Soft blobs with clear-cut edges You could be lacking fibre in your diet.

    6. Mushy consistency, with ragged edges Looks like it might be the start of diarrhoea…

    7. Watery, with no solid pieces Sounds as though you’ve got diarrhoea!

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It’s made of…


Handy helpers

Constipated? Ensure you have enough water and fibre in your diet, from foods such as wholegrains, fruit, pulses and vegetables. Help ease occasional bouts with Senokot Tablets, £2.15/215 points (20-pack), a gentle laxative with natural senna; always read the label. Or some people find Fybogel Hi-Fibre Orange, £7.50/750 points (30 sachets), helps relieve constipation and keep them regular; contains ispaghula husk; always read the label.


Got a case of the runs? Consider Boots Pharmaceuticals Diarrhoea Relief 2mg Capsules, £2.49/249 points (6-pack). Contains loperamide hydrochloride; always read the label.

*What’s normal for you may not be the same for someone else. Stool consistency can be affected by a number of medical conditions. If you notice a change in your stools or bowel habit and you’re worried, particularly if it lasts more than three weeks, speak to your GP.
† Based on an average stool; exact composition will vary.

Words Charlotte Grant-West


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