Saturday, December 11

The Scoop on Poop

A true test of any friendship is when you are able to openly and honestly talk about your bowl movements with one another.

A pessimist sees the poop in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every poop.
~Winston Churchill

Now lets get to the facts...

Roughly 75% of the average turd is made of none other than our good friend and highly toxic dihydrogen monoxide. Of course, this value is highly variable from person to person and poop to poop, for instance the concentration of water is going to be much higher in diarrhea then in constipated poops. This is because water is absorbed out of fecal material as it passes through the intestine, so for people like my mommy that poop once a month the direr the poop. The next ~8% is composed primarily of dead bacteria yummy! These little buggers form the intestinal garden of microorganisms that assist us in the digestion of our food. Another ~8% of the turd is typically ingestible foods or the infamous fiber we have eaten such as cellulose. This helps move the poop through the intestines easily, providing the necessary traction. The rest of the poop is typically comprised of a cocktail of fats such as cholesterol, inorganic salts like phosphates, live bacteria, dead cells and mucus from the lining of the intestine, and protein.

Now that I have informed you of what poop is or what it typically is comprised of lets get to the tricky stuff like why does it stink so bad?

Well the really reason for why poop stinks is actually very biochemical and scientific so its a good thing you are being informed by such an expert like myself. Hehe, but for you simple fold poop stinks because of the byproducts of our bacteria friends that are breaking down our food for us. In this process they produce smelly, sulfur- or nitrogen-rich organic compounds such as indole, skatole, and mercaptans, and the inorganic gas hydrogen sulfide. Ever smelt sulfur? Smells just like rotten eggs and is sometimes in peoples water very smell and hence why poop is smelly. And just an FYI, these are the same compounds that give farts their odor.

Now why is poop brown?

Well to be frank really professionals like myself never poop brown or very rarely so poop isn't always brown :-P. But when it is brown it is the result of a pigment called bilirubin that arises from the breakdown of red blood cells in the liver and bone marrow. The actual metabolic pathway of bilirubin and its byproducts in the body is very complicated and only one such as I could comprehend so in short a lot of the bilirubin ends up in the intestine, where it is further modified by bacterial action. If you dare to know more ask and I will baffle you further. However with this said the brown color itself comes from iron, as iron in hemoglobin in red blood cells gives blood its red color, and similarly iron in the waste product bilirubin gives rise to its brown color.

Now for us cool people what do our poops and there colors mean and correlate with?

There are a variety of colors that can show up for a variety of reasons.

Black - typically indicates a bleeding ulcer is present in the body, and the black color is due to the presence of partially digested blood.

Red- Potential indication of bleeding in the intestine, from an anal fissure or split. Bloody poop can also be a sign of colon cancer, so you should get it checked out by a doctor if you see blood in your stool of if it is a consistent Black color. Other forms of red poop might also arise such as eating high abouts of red food coloring can produce bright red poop. Or it might turn red from certain foods like beats.

Blue- certain illnesses in babies will cause this Some illnesses in babies gives them green or even blue-green poop. Or might simply be due to eating a concentrated source of blue food coloring such as ice cream or slushies.

White- poop might result after consuming a barium milkshake for the purposes of getting an x-ray of the upper gastrointestinal tract.

Yellow- May indicate Gilbert's Syndrome, where the red blood cells are broken down, and since the broken down blood cells is what gives poop a lot of its color people with this condition will tent to poop a pale brown or yellow color. Another cause of yellow poop is a giardia infection. Giardia are tiny Protozoan parasites that can invade the intestines and result in severe yellow diarrhea.

Green- Healthy people can have green poop if they eat a diet rich in leafy green vegetables, or if they consume large quantities of food coloring (in ice cream, cake frosting etc.). But green poop can also be caused by excess iron in the diet, from dietary supplements, for example. If the body does not absorb all the iron consumed, the iron may stain the poop green, the color of iron (II) salts. Ordinarily, the green color may be masked by the normal brown poop color, but if digestion is thrown off by illness so that bilirubin is less concentrated in the intestine, the green color may become apparent. This can happen when a person is afflicted with diarrhea.

Now what about bird poop, and why is it always white?

Unlike mammals, birds don't urinate. Their kidneys extract nitrogenous wastes from the bloodstream, but instead of excreting it as urea dissolved in urine as we do, they excrete it in the form of uric acid. Uric acid has a very low solubility in water, so it emerges as a white paste. This material, as well as the output of the intestines, emerges from the bird's cloaca. The cloaca is a multi-purpose hole for birds: their wastes come out of it, they have sex by putting their cloacas together, and females lay eggs out of it.

Why do dogs and other animals like rats eat poop, other than the fact they are gross?

Many animals eat poop on a regular basis, and it is properly termed, Coprophagia. In the wild momma canines keeps her den clean by eating the poop of her young pups, and as the pups grow, they copy the behavior to help mom clean house. But, once weaned out of the nest, so to speak, most puppies typically stop eating poop. Generally, it takes a few weeks for pups to grow out of the phase of eating his own poop, but in some cases it can be a long-lasting problem. Although, coprophagia is a nasty habit that isn't desirable, it isn't a behavior that is dangerous as long as your dog is just eating his own poop. Now, if he tries to eat the cat's poop, that's a whole other issue that can become hazardous to his health. Or, if your dog eats another dog's poop, he may contract an illness, as most contagious canine illnesses are transmitted through feces, so if your dog ingests poop from a sick dog, he could become ill. Worms and other parasites can also be transmitted through ingesting poops, so ideally, it's just not something that you want your dog to do. Herbivores such as rabbits and rodents eat their own poop because their diet of plants is hard to digest efficiently, and they have to make two passes at it to get everything out of the meal. This is equivalent to a cow chewing its cud, only cows are able to re-eat their food without having to poop it out first. Another reason why animals eat poop is that poop contains vitamins produced by their intestinal bacteria. The animal is unable to absorb the vitamins through the intestinal wall, but can get at them by eating the poop. Another reason that animals such as dogs and flies eat poop is that poop contains a certain amount of protein.

Are there people who eat poop?

Yes, we all have, at one point or another. One of the main ways that diseases and parasites spread is through the consumption of food and water contaminated with feces. This happens because people don't wash their hands carefully after pooping or changing a diaper or scratching their butt. It can also happen through careless disposal of diapers. Our microbiologist here on Guam says that one dirty diaper in Tumon Bay can send the bacteria count through the ceiling.
But of course, what you want to know is, are there people who eat poop on purpose? Again, the answer is yes. In rare instances, people with severe developmental and psychological disorders practice pica, the consumption of non-food items, including coprophagy, the ingestion of feces. The behavior may also be observed among very young toddlers. Coprophagy is also listed as an unusual sexual practice in the encyclopedia of that name. Some people who practice sexual coprophagy say that only a lover's poop is good to eat; all other poop (including their own) makes them gag.

What causes diarrhea?
Diarrhea is caused by irritation in the intestines, resulting in the bowel passing its contents too fast for the water to be absorbed. There can be several causes, including infection by bacteria or viruses, irritation caused by unfamiliar foods, food allergies, chronic illnesses such as inflammatory bowel disease, lactose intolerance, medications, and nervousness. If it's a persistant problem, don't mess around - see a doctor.

Do most people wipe their left-over poop standing up or while sitting on the pot, and are there gender differences?
Sitting down seems to be more common at least in my social group. It seems that sitting down spreads the cheeks apart and makes access easier. However, if you travel a bit, you will discover that people deal with left-over poop in different ways in other parts of the world. In France, for example, that water fountain in the bathroom isn't for drinking. It's a bidet for hosing off after using the toilet.

In Southeast Asia, you don't sit on the toilet at all. The toilet is a low, porcelain-lined trench, and the user squats over it. Next to the toilet is a bin of water. You scoop water out of the bin with your left hand and use that to cleanse yourself. You aren't supposed to use your left hand for any other purpose. So don't shake Asian's left hands who knows what's on there.

Why does corn come out whole?
Corn poop is one of the greatest mysteries in life. I grew up pondering the same question. This is what I think is happening...When we chew corn, the outer coating slips off the inner kernal. This outer yellow coating is almost entirely cellulose, and is indigestible. It passes through the gut untouched, and emerges looking like a whole kernal, although it is mostly just the outer skin. The inside of the kernal is starchy and digestible, and that is the part that we succeed in chewing up.

How does poop stay together, like in links?
In humans, soft poop is really one long, mostly continuous sausage before it comes out. It gets its "link" look because we tend to pinch off lengths of it with the anal sphincter as the poop emerges. If a person pinches hard enough, the poop separates into several turd units. If the person doesn't pinch that hard, the turds may stay connected. If you can remain sufficiently relaxed, you can produce an awesomely long poop that will coil up inside the toilet.

Why does some poop float?

Floaters are turds that have an unusually high gas content. Sometimes the gases produced by bacteria in our gut don't have a chance to collect into a large fart bubble, but remain dispersed in the feces. The poop then comes out foamy, and has a lower density than water. Poop with a high fat content will also float.

What causes the burning sensation sometimes associated with poop?

This is generally caused by a recent meal of hot peppers or related spices. The oils associated with these foods remain intact and active all the way through one's gastrointestinal system. These oils can also generate hot farts.

Why does some poop hurt when it comes out?

Turds can get very large and dry if a person is constipated, causing painful stretching of the anal opening. Pooping can also hurt if the person has hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids are engorged veins in the anal area. A doctor once described them to me as "varicose veins of the anus," which suggests that the valves in the veins that are supposed to keep the blood flowing in the right direction have gotten messed up. Pooping can also be painful if the person suffers from an anal fissure, a tear in the tissue of the rectum.

Why does poop sometimes fizzle when it hits the water?

Fizzling can happen if the poop is supercharged with bubbles of fart gas. After discharge from the body, the poop is in a lower pressure environment and it degasses.

Does eating meat make your poop smell worse?
Yes, meat protein is rich in sulfides, resulting in smellier farts and poop. This is the reason that the poop of carnivores such as dogs, cats and snakes smells worse than the poop of herbivores such as cows and horses.

What is the origin of the word "poop"?
"poop" comes from the Middle English word poupen or popen, and it originally meant "fart." The word was based on the sound of a fart. According to Robert Chapman, author of American Slang, "poop" came into use with its current meaning around 1900.

Got more poop questions? Let me know and I will try my best.

1 comment:

  1. Corn. Indigenous folk had that figured thousands of years ago; Nixtamal or what 'mericans might call hominy. 'Supposed to release niacin (or some pre-crap stuff), more readily digestible...

    My poop don't stink. Well most of the time, whence accompanied by proper diet (vegan - mostly nuts & raisins) and what most folks would call "intense" exercise. When the diet's right, poop not only don't stink but there's no need to swipe the but wipe! 'Stealth gas too, 'mostly carbon dioxide 'recon. Most specimen have the appearance, size and shape of coyote scat with a shell or skin akin to that found on elk duds. The aroma is almodine with a slightly toasted garden soil odor, again closely related to elk or deer.

    Offered to satisfy any curiosity, 'was looking for pictures of bidet - the gentlewoman's but swipe. Well, the gentlewoman who has an improper diet and by inference, a stinky winky.

    By the nature of this communication, I truly love you (see article opening paragraph).