What your poo can tell you about your gut health

Woman sitting on the toilet. Poo can reveal a lot about gut health. (Getty Images)
Your poo can reveal an awful lot about your gut health. (Getty Images)

A goat milk company has launched a service examining customers' gut health through a poo post-box scheme.

Having teamed up with the University of Cambridge, The Chuckling Goat now provides an at-home microbiome test kit analysing poo samples in order to suggest improvements to the gut micriobiome.

Co-founder Shann Jones said that the ability to do a gut health test in "the privacy and comfort of your own home has changed everything".

"We basically examine everything that's going on inside the microbiome," she added to BBC.

Poo isn't exactly the most appealing of conversations, and it also isn't necessarily something we pay much attention to, but it can actually reveal quite a lot about your overall health and wellbeing, particularly when it comes to your gut health.

“Poo might not be the most glamorous topic, but paying attention to its colour, consistency, and other features can provide valuable insight into your gut health," explains Agnieszka Kozlowska, owner of supplement brand Miracle Leaf.

What your poo can reveal about gut health

Believe it or not there are many clues our poo can give us about how healthy our gut is.

"The Bristol Stool Chart is a well-known scale of seven different types of poo, which go from hard, pebbly poos to completely liquid poos, and the chart can be a useful guide to assess how our poo should ideally look," explains Liz Cooper, senior nutrition advisor, at NeoVos.

Cooper says anything that scores either side of a type three or four on this chart could mean our gut isn’t as happy as it should be and may need some TLC.

"Equally as insightful is how often we’re able to poo, and going anywhere from three times a day to three times a week is considered normal," she adds.

"However, as our poo contains waste material and is a key detoxification method, going to the toilet at least once a day will ensure we’re expelling what we no longer need, such as toxins and dead cells."

Bristol Stool Chart. (Getty Images)
The Bristol Stool Chart reveals what to look out for in your stools. (Getty Images)

There are a number of things we can look out for when checking our poo including:-


According to Cooper hard, pebbly poos can often occur when someone is constipated, possibly due to a number of factors such as dehydration, lack of fibre in the diet, inactivity or even an imbalance of gut bacteria (known as dysbiosis).

"At the other end of the scale, loose or runny poos can occur for a number of reasons, from pathogenic infections to food intolerances such as lactose," she adds.

Floating stools?

We may find our poo floats, and this can indicate poor absorption of fat in the diet or excessive gas produced by disproportionate numbers of gut bacteria, possibly ‘unfriendly’ ones.

"Or if our poo contains undigested fibre, it can be a tell-tale sign that we’re not able to break food down efficiently and may be lacking digestive enzymes," Cooper adds.

Woman sitting on the toilet. (Getty Images)
We should be looking for any changes in the colour and consistency of our poo. (Getty Images)


Here are some poo colours to look out for that may require further investigation:-

  • Pale, clay-like stools – "This could indicate a lack of bile linked to a gallbladder, pancreas or liver issue and may also indicate absorption issues or the presence of mucus," explains Adrienne Benjamin, nutritionist at ProVen Probiotics. "Alternatively, it could be related to anti-diarrhoea medication or if you have recently had a barium enema."

  • Green poo – Antibiotics can turn your poo green, as can consuming lots of green vegetables or green vegetable juices. "It may also be related to a bacterial infection or food poisoning, or can indicate diarrhoea or low fibre intake, when there is not enough transit time for the bilirubin to change the stool colour to brown," Benjamin explains.

  • Yellow poo – This could relate to a lack of bile or bile-related issues (including gallbladder removal), meaning that your body is not absorbing fat properly and there is fat in the stool. "It could also relate to excessive fat intake, food intolerances, or a gut infection or parasite," Benjamin adds. "More benignly, it could mean that you’ve been eating lots of yellow foods, such as turmeric or yellow food colouring or are taking certain medications (particularly those for GERD)."

  • Bright red poo – This could mean that you’ve eaten beetroot recently, but if not Benjamin says it could suggest ‘new’ blood in the stool, which could result from haemorrhoids or bleeding in the lower part of the large intestine.

  • Dark red poo – "Again this can suggest bleeding in the rectum or lower gut and should be checked, although it can also result from eating red foods or food dyes," Benjamin explains.

  • Black red or black stools – This can result from iron or activated charcoal supplements, but can also indicate ‘old’ blood from the upper part of the gut and should always be checked out.

Stool testing kit. (Getty Images)
Stool testing can reveal further insight into gut health. (Getty Images)


While there is some variability in what is considered normal, consistent and regular bowel movements are generally a positive sign. "Irregularities, such as persistent diarrhoea or constipation, could point to an underlying gut issue that may require attention," Kozlowska explains.


While some odour is of course normal, according to Kozlowska an exceptionally foul smell may suggest an overgrowth of harmful bacteria in the gut or issues with digestion and nutrient absorption.

The importance of poo checking

While it is important to remember that everyone is different, and our stool's can change day-to-day, it's a good idea to keep an eye on your poo to look out for any unusual changes and speak to your doctor if you are concerned about any of the symptoms above.

Regularly looking at our poo is helpful to gauge gut health, to get a further understanding of what’s going on in our gut you could consider using a stool test, which can measure levels of friendly and unfriendly bacteria, as well as key metabolites.

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