Each of us produces more than 1,000 pounds of faeces (poop) every year and more than half of this is bacteria – there are almost 100 billion bacteria in every gram of stool. Almost 50% of these bacteria are alive and the types of bacteria can influence how hard or loose the stool is.
The bacterial content of poop is incredibly complex and the types of bacteria vary enormously from person to person.
Greater variety of plants in our diet means greater diversity of bacteria in our gut, which means a greater range of molecules is produced by the bacteria to support digestion and other functions in the body – one of which is to help maintain consistency and regularity of stools. We also need to eat vegetables, wholegrains, pulses and fruit to get enough fibre, which helps stools to form and to move through the digestive system.
Stools also need moisture to move through the digestive tract, so not drinking enough water can lead to constipation. Caffeine and alcohol can contribute to dehydration and the longer it takes for digested food to pass through the large intestine, the more water gets reclaimed and the drier the stool becomes.
So, a healthy poop comprises waste food and bacteria and should contain just enough water to be able to pass easily - put the right stuff in and what you see in the toilet should be healthy.