What are in our poops?

in StemSociallast month (edited)


The human anatomy is well-built and well-functioning. Its structures and characteristics differ from different creatures inhabiting Earth. However, as we are functioning organisms, we need the energy to move and execute our day-to-day activities. We acquire it from the foods that we intake, and whatever matter or nutrient that we don't need goes to waste and discharges from our body as feces. The remaining food is not digested in our small intestines and breaks down by bacteria in the large intestine.

We can find bacterially altered bilirubin and dead epithelial cells from the gut lining in our metabolic waste products but in small amounts. During defecation, we expelled feces through the anus or cloaca. In agriculture, We can use feces as a fertilizer or a soil conditioner. It can serve as biofuel when we burned or dried it. There are some therapeutic applications of our feces. We can treat C. difficile colitis, an infection that causes severe diarrhea and abdominal cramping, using Fecal transplants or fecal bacteriotherapy.

Excreta is the combination of urine and feces. In most cases, feces has 75% water and 25% solid matter. Dead bacteria make up about 30% of our stools. On the other hand, indigestible food has cellulose makes up another 30%, while cholesterol and other fats, which sum up to 10% to 20% of our stools. We can find inorganic substances like calcium phosphate and iron phosphate make up 10% to 20%, while 2% to 3% is for proteins. The cell debris, bile pigments (bilirubin), and dead leukocytes pass through the waste stream (white blood cells). The soluble fiber in our food can be digested well by our intestines results in a gel-like substance that becomes part of your poop. On the other hand, Corn, oat bran, and carrots have insoluble fiber, which is more difficult to digest. It causes our poop to look unchanged.

Stool samples of various characteristics. (wikimedia)

Our poop has a different color, depending on what kinds of food we ingested and other factors. When we take leafy vegetables, it can make our poop green, while some medications can make our poop look white or clay-colored. We should look out for jet-black stool, which may a sign of bleeding in the upper gastrointestinal tract, but it could also be something as harmless as due to iron supplements or black licorice. When our feces has a brown color, it is due to the bacteria acting on bilirubin results in hemoglobin breakdown (red blood cells). Our feces' odor is due to the chemicals indole, skatole, hydrogen sulfide, and mercaptans. It is a by-product of bacterial action. Diseases can affect our bowel function that results in feces with abnormalities. People with constipation have infrequent bowel movements, which causes their stools to be hard and dry.

We can get typhoid, cholera, and amoebic dysentery from contaminating food with infected people's feces. Humans can defecate several times a day, every day, or once every two or three days, depending on the person and the circumstances. Constipation is an extensive hardening of the stool that disrupts this routine for several days or more. Our diet and hygiene influenced the appearance of our feces. It's typically semisolid with a mucus covering. Again, the brown color of feces is due to a mixture of bile and bilirubin, which comes from dead red blood cells. However, our stools pose a threat to us; hence there are over 100 different types of viruses, bacteria, and helminths.

Most bacteria are harmless, but some can cause pain or dysentery, and a few can even cause death if not treated. Typhoid fever, Cholera, Hepatitis A, and several worms are among the deadly pathogens (helminths). There are Rotavirus, Norwalk Agent Virus, and other viruses that can cause respiratory problems. We can get extreme diarrhea when exposed to these pathogens. Many of them come from feces that some people did not handle or dispose of properly. Squatting on the ground to use the restroom outside is one of the most common ways for bacteria and helminths to spread.


Viruses cannot replicate outside of a host, but they can live for several weeks while waiting for a new host, depending on temperature. The longer viruses survive when waiting for a host at a lower temperature, the longer they can survive. Since they emerge in untreated feces, five virus classes are of particular concern. Adenoviruses, enteroviruses, hepatitis A, reoviruses, and rotaviruses are the viruses in question. Only the two feces-related viruses that are major health issues, hepatitis A and rotavirus, will be addressed. In our intestines, several bacterias include strains of Escherichia coli (E. coli) and Salmonella. In our colon, Escherichia coli has a beneficial role, while Salmonella has no part in food digestion but does no harm as long as it remains in the colon. We have some issues when bacteria leave the body in feces and intake by us, especially E. coli, Salmonella, Shigella, and Vibrio. These viruses cause critical human illness.

Cleaning up after human feces may be hazardous work because of all the possible biohazards it can contain. We must ensure that the stools that we dispose of it properly. If you need to clean up human waste in a homeless encampment, a trashed rental, a hoarded house, or after a sewage backup, hire a company that has been trained in the correct techniques and delegate the job to them. The risk of exposure to feces carrying different diseases is higher under unsanitary places than in well-sanitized areas.

Note: The cover image is created by the author using Canva. The background image is from Pixabay.


  1. The Characterization of Feces and Urine: A Review of the Literature to Inform Advanced Treatment Technology
  2. What are the different types of poop?
  3. 11 Icky but Interesting Facts About Poop
  4. The Stink About Human Poop As Fertilizer
  5. Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. "Feces". Encyclopedia Britannica
  6. Pathogens & Diseases
  7. What Happens When You Eat Poop?
  8. Are Human Feces a Biohazard?
  9. Is Human Feces a Biohazard?

Definitely a great post. I remember being told about the bristol stool chart but forgot about it a while. Whenever I see those hard lumps, it reminds me that I need to start drinking more water since I am constipated. I tend to forget to drink water as much during parts of the day when I am focused on things at my computer.

The Bristol chart really helps to assess our health. You should better drink water so that it will ease your constipation. Thank you for sharing your experience, @jfang003!

Such a shitty post, literally. :)

LOL! I love the comment. It is literally a shit post. Thank you for your engagement, @gentleshaid!

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