Stool chart, poop chart, poo scale, bowel movement chart, there are many different names for the infamous Bristol Stool Chart, but they are all the same thing; a universal scale for assessing the seven types of stool. Twenty-five years after it was first drawn up, we have given it a modern makeover in an effort to raise awareness of whether you have good gut health, or whether it is behaving badly, which is often revealed in the shape of your poos.
We spoke to our in house Gut Health expert, Alex Glover to learn more about what each type means.
The Bristol Stool Chart was first developed in 1997, and according to the chart there are seven types of stool/faeces.
We commissioned 3 artists, who are all based in Bristol, to give the original stool chart a facelift and create their own versions, which can all be downloaded below.
“The consistency of our poo can be affected by many different factors, including sleep, diet, exercise, stress and certain medications.
What is important to remember is not to panic if occasionally your stool isn’t in categories 3 or 4 on the Bristol Stool Chart, what to look out for is consistent changes to not only the consistency, but how hard it is to pass.
When it comes to normal poop, frequency can be from 3 times a day to 3 times a week.
In a recent large study of 4,775 people reporting “normal” bowel patterns, it was found that about 95% of people move their bowels between three and 21 times weekly. So between three times a day and three times a week is what we like to call the “Goldilocks zone for pooping - Jakob Begun, Gastroenterologist.
Seeing stools like this? You could be suffering with constipation, which is not always just a case of insufficient fibre.
This is a great indication of good gut health! It's considered a normal stool consistency and is what the majority of our bowel movement should look like. From what we can see it looks like you're doing a good job.
Looks like you're at risk of an accident...
Stools like this may indicate diarrhea. While this may be being caused by an upset tummy, it could actually be caused by bad gut health.
Our gut contains 100 trillion live bacteria, weighing in at 2kg. The balance of ‘live bacteria’ vs. ‘harmful bacteria’ is very important. 70% of our immune cells are thought to be found in our gut, so it’s a really important aspect of health. What’s more, some evidence suggests there may be a link between gut health and cognitive function, with more scientific research taking place to fully establish this link.
The most obvious indicators of gut health are your bowel movements, for example feeling gassy, irregular trips to the toilet or an upset stomach.
If people are concerned about any symptoms that they are experiencing then they should speak to their GP.
Start with the diet; aim to eat 30g of fibre a day and feed your gut with a variety of sources (the microbiome have varied tastes, just like us). Look to incorporate fermented foods such as sauerkraut and live yoghurt and polyphenols which are found in all fruits and vegetables, with particularly high levels in dark chocolate, green leafy vegetables and dark skinned fruits such as blueberries and blackberries.
Lifestyle also plays a part, as psychological stress can have a detrimental impact on your gut. Sleep is also really important, as are your surroundings; spending time in nature exposes people to a range of bacteria which leads to a richer and more diverse microbiome.
Supplements are a great way to look after your gut microbiome and digestive health beyond diet and lifestyle changes. Supplements containing calcium support the normal function of digestive enzymes and those offering various strains of friendly bacteria are the most popular as they nourish and complement our natural flora in the gut microbiome. Pre-, pro- and post-biotics all play a part in the biotic journey and Holland & Barrett’s in-store and online colleagues can advise customers on the best products for them individually.
Post-biotics are the by-products produced by gut bacteria during fermentation and are produced after they have been ‘fed’ with substances like kiwi fibre (which is present in every product in the Tribiotic range). One of these post-biotics is calcium lactate, which together with the calcium offered by Holland & Barrett’s Tribiotic supplements can contribute to the normal function of digestive enzymes.
Holland & Barrett’s new Tribiotic range features advanced triple biotics to nourish the gut microbiome. The entire range contains kiwi fibre, which is a food source for gut bacteria, which in-turn is converted to calcium lactate - one of many by-products, or post-biotics.
What’s more, the Tribiotic range offers tailored blends of clinically studied bacteria strains fortified with various vitamins and minerals; catering for different wellness needs such as immunity, mental balance and metabolic health.
Holland & Barrett also now offers customers free, one-to-one online video consultations with its qualified advisors across a broad range of wellness areas, including gut and digestive health.
Yee Poon is an up-and-coming Bristol-based artist creating work that combines vibrant colours, playful characters and hand-lettering. Her work has featured in numerous publications including the cover of Circus Magazine.Follow on instagram
Rose Blake is an illustrator and artist making drawings and pictures in London. She studied at Kingston University and the Royal College of Art. She was awarded the D&AD Best New Blood Award and was recently shortlisted for the AOI prize and The World Illustration Awards.Follow on instagram
Coco Lom is an artist and designer based in Hackney, east London. She is known for her joyful work using bold patterns and colours. Previous projects include artworks for Nike, Hackney Arts, The Royal Parks Foundation and The Tree Council.Follow on instagram
A stool is another word for a piece of faeces – aka a piece of poo!
A bowel movement is when your food has been completely digested and has passed through the rectum and the anus.
A bowel movement may also be referred to as a defecation.
A stool chart is a handy infographic that displays the different seven types of stool.
Arguably the most well-known stool chart, the Bristol Stool Chart is a medical aid that was made to help classify stools into seven different groups.
It was created in 1997 and is often used by medical professionals.
Moving from the sort of poos you might have when you’re constipated to the sort of poos experienced when you have diarrhoea, the seven types of stool are as follows:
Using the stool chart, a healthy poo should look like type 3 or type 4.
The types before this are an indicator that you’re constipated and the types after indicate that you have diarrhoea.
It should also be brown in colour, due to the combination of stomach bile and bilirubin (a pigment compound produced by the breakdown of red blood cells).
An unhealthy poo may look more like types 1 and 2 if you’re prone to constipation, or type 6 and 7 if you’re prone to diarrhoea.
Anything other than a brown, log-shaped stool may be a sign that something is up.
Generally, healthy poo should sink to the bottom of the toilet.
If it always seems to float, it may be a sign that you’re not absorbing nutrients from food, you have excess gas or it might be a sign of infection.
It is advisable to speak to a medical professional if your poo is black or brown, it has started being ‘pencil-thin’, your constipation lasts a long time and doesn’t improve with treatment or if you’re experiencing pain when you go.