I want better poop.
November 13, 2013 9:16 AM   Subscribe

I want to poop better. I poop frequently enough, but I rarely get the super-satisfying, perfect, long, clean-wipe poop that I deserve. I need reliable information on how to do this. What diet should I have? What should I eat more/less of? What supplements would help? Thanks!
posted by MisantropicPainforest to Health & Fitness (36 answers total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
I thought this was normal for about 20 years.... Then I gave up gluten. Whole new world of pooping.
posted by humboldt32 at 9:17 AM on November 13, 2013 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Add chia seeds to your diet. They are like pure fiber. I put them in my morning oatmeal, but you could add them to a smoothie or something. Link is not an endorsement of the particular product, but it was easily googled. I get mine at Costco.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 9:28 AM on November 13, 2013

Lots of leafy greens. Less dairy and simple carbs/starches. Avoid anything particularly greasy or processed.

The only time I've really had what you're going for was when I was doing hardcore paleo (or whatever the term for it is now.)
posted by griphus at 9:29 AM on November 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

Two words: docusate sodium.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:31 AM on November 13, 2013

Oh! And how does your stomach handle acids? I've found that if I have a particularly acidic meal -- Italian food, for instance -- I get much better results if I eat a fistful of antacids right after.
posted by griphus at 9:32 AM on November 13, 2013

Fiber, roughage, hydration, low-fats. I eat that twig cereal for breakfast and have a diet that is pretty low in processed foods, high in other fibers (love squashes and quinoa) and fruits (apples!) and try to stay well-hydrated and that works decently well for me. This falls apart when I eat a lot of pizza, rice, other greasy/gummy (and delicious) foods or get my hydration balance off. Exercise also helps to some extent.
posted by jessamyn at 9:34 AM on November 13, 2013

Two important things: insoluble fiber aaaaaaaaaand cutting down on "low residue" foods (stuff that's pretty completely-metabolized can make for sticky, icky, unsatisfactory poops... think sugar, dairy and the like).

You can also try my "Nuclear Option Porridge"... here is my original Facebook note regarding THAT. It works on one's bowels like DEET works on mosquitoes: FAST AND FURIOUS.

"Last week, I experienced some pretty horrific stomach pain. The pain has subsided. However, the after-effects of eating nothing but pale, starchy foods for the better part of a week have NOT. If you know what I mean. And I think you do(o). However, the snowstorm which smacked the eastern seaboard upside its collective head gave me an opportunity to work from home... and while there, to remedy that which saltines, plain bagels and vanilla pudding hath wrought.

And so I invented Nuclear Option Porridge. Which turned out to be surprisingly tasty... a warm, rich mocha concoction which whispers "winter" (and shrieks "INABILITY TO DEFECATE!"). Is it effective? Only time will tell. Will I make it again, even after my alimentary canal straightens up and flies right? Shit, yes.

1/3 c oat bran
1/3 c wheat bran
2 tsp instant espresso powder
1 2"x2" square unsweetened chocolate, diced
3 tsp sugar
1/8 tsp salt
5 prunes, finely minced
1/4 tsp cinnamon
3 packets artificial sweetener

Combine all ingredients in heat-safe bowl. Pour 1 c boiling water over mixture, stir, cover bowl. Go outside and spend ten minutes shoveling the walk (that's what I did, at least, figuring that all the bending and twisting certainly wouldn't DIMINISH the porridge's efficacy). Uncover porridge, re-stir, enjoy. It's probably best not to venture too far from home at this point."
posted by julthumbscrew at 9:35 AM on November 13, 2013 [21 favorites]

I see a big improvement in my horribly horrible processed food diet whenever I eat more apples.
posted by royalsong at 9:39 AM on November 13, 2013

I had various butt zone problems until I started taking a daily OTC antacid. Now I have what may be the platonic ideal of poops. All previous attempts at more dietary fiber only made things worse.

Also no matter how much water you are drinking already, you should be drinking more.
posted by elizardbits at 9:40 AM on November 13, 2013

I had some constipation issues last year so I started taking Citrucel. My overall issues are resolved but I still take the Citrucel every day and it really helps with this. Citrucel is not a "laxative" per se, although you'll find it in that area of the drug store. It basically adds more "bulk" to your stool so everything just moves through better. You can either buy the powder and mix it with water or take the pills. If you do pills, just make sure you chug a lot of water with it.

Oh and eat more fruits and vegetables and drink more water.
posted by radioamy at 9:42 AM on November 13, 2013

Oh also I hate to say it, but exercise really helps.
posted by radioamy at 9:42 AM on November 13, 2013 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I should add that a lack of fiber is most likely not an issue, and I have no problems going. When I go, its just a mess.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:44 AM on November 13, 2013

Instead of taking antacids after a meal, take digestive enzymes before you eat each meal. That, eating more veggies and less gluten have worked for me.

Just saw your comment---that was my problem too--happens when I eat stuff I can't digest properly, but the enzymes have sorted out the problem most of the time (until I cheat with wheat or milk products :(
posted by bessiemae at 9:44 AM on November 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yeah, if it's a mess when you go, don't focus so much on putting IN fiber as cutting OUT sugary, starchy, floury foods - they inevitably turn my output to tar.
posted by julthumbscrew at 9:46 AM on November 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

When I go, its just a mess.

Try knocking out refined sugars and acids for a bit and see if that helps.
posted by griphus at 9:47 AM on November 13, 2013

Best answer: I would try a probiotic. There are a lot of different ones with different bacteria on the market, so it might take a few to find one that ahem...works well for you. Pearls IC has worked well for me.
posted by melissam at 9:53 AM on November 13, 2013

The thing is there in no evidence that there even is a platonic poop ideal. Quackster Gillian Mckeith aside the medical/scientific community is pretty united in the belief that poop is stinky and messy and should be that way.

You seem to want greater solidity - which means you should pursue the opposite of most of the advice here - less fibre and water and more stuff that will result in hard packed borderline constipation turds. Which seems like a pretty crappy goal but to each their own.
posted by srboisvert at 9:55 AM on November 13, 2013 [2 favorites]

Make sure you are sleeping enough. The butt zone is often one of the first things to fall apart for me if I try to get by with 6 hours.
posted by en forme de poire at 9:57 AM on November 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

Are you lactose intolerant? Are you getting that way as you get older?
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:04 AM on November 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

In my experience it's the presence of white flour that causes problems, regardless of how much fiber you're getting otherwise.
posted by HotToddy at 10:09 AM on November 13, 2013

Fibre can also help with poops being too loose as it bulks up the poop to give you that feeling you are after, just make sure it's the right sort of fibre. Metamucil or the like might actually help as the fibre in it can actually help by thickening up poops by absorbing moisture and adding bulk.
posted by wwax at 10:29 AM on November 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

My formula for a satisfying BM is pretty basic. Simply cooked vegetables (cabbage is cheap!), rice, and eggs for dinner, followed by water throughout the evening. Upon waking, gravity and coffee, and presto!

You also need a binder to go with all the fiber. Cheese is a terrific binder.

(Unlike others above, I don't skimp on fat, wheat, dairy, alcohol or sugar. However, while I say I have cookies in the cabinet, but my SO posits that Wheat Free Fig Newmans are not cookies.)

posted by computech_apolloniajames at 10:34 AM on November 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

I can't favorite wwax hard enough. I have an autoimmune disorder called ulcerative colitis, which, among other things, causes loose stool. My rectal surgeon strongly recommended Konsyl, which is a brand of fiber supplement, for the reasons wwax mentions.

When he recommended it, I said, really, I do get enough fiber. He said, do you? I said, yes, I eat a ton of fruit & vegetables AND I take psyllium husk capsules. How many? he asked. 9 to 12 a DAY, I responded. He then told me that I would have to take 48 per day to get the same benefit as a single dose of (original) Konsyl.

You know what? It's gross. But I always regret it when I allow myself to skip it.
posted by janey47 at 10:39 AM on November 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

The only way to get "reliable information" is through empirical research. Keep record of what you eat and drink and how it affects your digestion. After a while a pattern could become apparent.

Also, caffeine is known to have an effect on digestion. Could this be a factor?
posted by travelwithcats at 10:51 AM on November 13, 2013 [2 favorites]

Shit, friend (heh) or Shit friend (heh), let me tell you what works for me. It's a High Fiber (with added psyllium to boot, heh) + Low Carb works out to grant your wish.

When I go carby again 2-3 times a year during vacations/holidays, holy crap (heh) does my body hate me.

I agree with @travelwithcats, keep a record and gather some data.
posted by PlutoniumX at 11:03 AM on November 13, 2013

I'm not actually sure if this works with people, but the "wonder food" for making dogs clean and regular is a spoon of canned pumpkin everyday. Apparently not too coincidentally, I eat a lot of winter squash this time of year, and my bum is a happy bum.

Hey, it certainly can't hurt! (And now you know a neat trick for dogs too!)
posted by aggyface at 11:16 AM on November 13, 2013

Best answer: I've received a lot of training in this area (it accounts for significant sales in the vitamin/supplement industry) and the recommendations of more fiber are great. You're really looking for something that forms bulk and stimulates peristalsis (muscle contractions in the GI tract that moves things along).

A soluble (ie: absorbs/dissolves in water) and insoluble (ie: not digested/unaffected by water) blend is best; the soluble fiber provides bulk, and the insoluble fiber 'sweeps' the GI tract while also encouraging peristalsis.

Avoid psyllium--while commonly recommended, most new naturopathic doctors I've encountered have discouraged psyllium use because it's not a balanced blend of soluble/insoluble fiber (psyllium is roughly 70% soluble fiber--absorbing water and making things sticky) and because regular, long term use causes inflammation. There are also many causes of people suffering from obstruction as a result of psyllium use.

If you're interested in learning more, I'd check out Dr. Brenda Watson, she's a Naturopathic Doctor and Digestive Specialist. A quick google will turn up plenty of references/resources for you.

Good luck!
posted by stubbehtail at 12:07 PM on November 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

Would you describe this "mess" as floating when you inspect it in the bowl?
posted by humboldt32 at 12:10 PM on November 13, 2013

Something I have learned over the last 5 years or so because of ISSUES is that people's solutions to this problem are wide, varied, and may or may not work for you. Some of the suggestions here have been absolutely horrendous when I tried them, and unfortunately it was a trial and error thing.

I will say take baby steps and start slow. And learn the difference between soluble fiber (the lube) and insoluble fiber (the bulk). Many ingredient/nutrition guides just lump them together which is not really that informative for people like me.
posted by Big_B at 3:09 PM on November 13, 2013

I'm gonna nth suggesting that messy poops might be a lactose problem. I'm not lactose intolerant enough to avoid all dairy at all times, but I am lactose intolerant enough that a full glass of milk leads to stomach cramps and a dairy-heavy day leads to digestive issues the next day.

You've never been lactose intolerant, you say? If you are anything other than Anglo and/or European, surprise lactose intolerance as you get older is not uncommon. Do some experimenting and record-keeping on that score, see if cutting out dairy doesn't give you better poops.
posted by yasaman at 3:21 PM on November 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

When I gave up dairy my digestive system and pooping improved immeasurably...I think I had gotten lactose intolerant with age.
posted by bearette at 4:46 PM on November 13, 2013

Try this first-get some yogurt with live cultures.

(I would rather not share why I am so free with the recommendation. )
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:55 PM on November 13, 2013

as the old saying goes, youth is hoping for a bmw, and age is hoping for a bm. you will reach a point in your life when any poop that leaves your lower abdomen relaxed and comfortable is a good poop. alexander solzhenitzyn obliquely referenced this in "one day in the life of ivan denisovitch" when he commented, anent gulag inmates, "blessed is he who early in the morning..."
posted by bruce at 6:14 PM on November 13, 2013

Poops effortlessly leave me whenever I squat over, rather than sit, on a toilet, despite my lifelong insistence upon a fiber-free diet that is largely comprised of donuts, left-over Halloween candy and coffee. As your ability to gracefully perch upon the rim of a Western toilet may vary from mine, one of these platforms should help.
posted by jamaro at 6:17 PM on November 13, 2013

Best answer: I had similar problems, including wildly all over the map(from "JESUS FUCKING TAR" to rabbit pellets) shits until i discovered one thing.

Store brand metamucil. Just that fibre powder. I buy it by the MASSIVE tub. I dont remember to drink a glass every day, just a few times a week. If i forget for too long it's back to one end of the spectrum or the other.

If i drink a glass of water with a big heaping soup spoon of it(no teaspoons here, no sir-e) i can eat or drink anything and have perfect shits. Often even the coveted winners circle zero wiper.

Seriously, if you just stick to that regimen you can go to a friends holiday party and drink way too much and take a totally normal shit the next morning. It's magical. It's sort of a cheat routing around any of the more complex advice here.

It doesn't actually _matter_ if you think lack of fiber isn't an issue. This will fix it either way. I'd actually be freaking shocked if it didn't. I have several other friends, including a couple party animals who swear by the stuff. It pretty much got me through a year of living on really crappy food with no money without hating myself when i had to shit.
posted by emptythought at 8:09 PM on November 13, 2013 [5 favorites]

I poop frequently enough, but I rarely get the super-satisfying, perfect, long, clean-wipe poop that I deserve.

Adding fiber and vegetables to your diet will create a messier, loose stool that is easy to pass, but certainly not "long, clean-wipe poop..." For a long, hard, easy to wipe stool, you want to eat more meat, refined carbs, and processed food. You will die younger this way, but at least as you define it, you will regularly be having a good shit...everybody's gotta have something to live for I guess.
posted by Sonrisa at 9:34 PM on November 16, 2013

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