Ask someone if their poop smells bad, and they’ll most likely look at you like you’re crazy. Of course poop smells bad! Yes, but some poop smells way worse than normal, and this can be the sign of a problem.
As we all know, even a healthy poop doesn’t exactly smell nice. However, a healthy poop also should not smell too strongly or too awful. The odor associated with a normal bowel movement is usually mild and it passes quickly. If you’re stinking up the bathroom to high heaven, enough to make yourself gag, it’s a sign of your poop trying to tell you something.
Before you get too alarmed, having smelly poop from time to time may just mean you ate something funny or you need to adjust your diet. Sometimes, however, smelly poop can be the sign of a health condition that needs to be addressed, especially if it’s smelly on a chronic basis or accompanied by other symptoms.
If you have horrible smelling bowel movements, it may be due to one of the following instances:
You ate processed foods
Processed foods — which can barely be called “foods” at all — are often hard on the digestive system. Many additives, unhealthy fats, sugars and emulsifiers used in processed foods can lead to constipation, which makes feces sit for a while inside your digestive tract before it is passed. The longer it sits, the worse poop smells.
You are intolerant to lactose, gluten or another food
If you suspect a certain type of food is making you feel bad or making your poop smell, try eliminating it from your diet for two weeks to see if your symptoms improve. If so, keep it off your plate! When you’re not sure if a certain food may be to blame, try eliminating one at a time to see if something makes a difference.
You may have eaten too much meat or dairy
These foods can be healthy, especially if they are organic and grass-fed, but too much may lead to nasty poop smells. It’s nothing to worry about, but if you find you’re eating a whole lot of these foods, you may wish to cut down and double up on fruits and vegetables.
You ate certain vegetables
Speaking of vegetables, there are some that may make your poop smell funny. Sulfur-containing veggies such as kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and garlic may lead to potent poo aromas. These foods are healthy and there’s no need to cut down. But, be aware that they make your bathroom trips more stinky.
You just finished a course of antibiotics
Antibiotics mess with your body’s natural gut microbiome, so your poop may smell awful until the balance is restored.
Your gut bacteria is imbalanced
Speaking of your gut, if you have smelly poop on a regular basis, it may mean that your gut bacteria is imbalanced. Taking steps to heal your gut (like healthy foods and probiotics) may get rid of the stink, as well as boosting your overall health dramatically.
You’re taking too many vitamins
If you overdose on vitamins A, D, E or K, not only can it make your poop smell, it can also be a medical emergency. If you accidentally overdose, go to the emergency room!
Smelly poop may also be a sign of the following medical situations or conditions:
- Irritable bowel disease (IBD)
- Short bowel disease
- Food poisoning (such as Salmonella or E. coli)
- Celiac disease
- Cystic fibrosis
- Chronic pancreatitis
If your smelly poop is a result of one of these conditions, chances are you’ll have other digestive symptoms, such as diarrhea, abdominal pain or vomiting. If you suspect your digestive system is seriously out of whack, it’s time to make a doctor’s appointment, pronto. It’s much better to be safe than sorry.
If your poop is a strange color, it may also be an indicator that something is awry. It may mean you’re not eating enough greens or it may be the sign of an underlying medical condition that needs to be addressed.
Ways to get your digestive system in tip-top shape
If you’ve ruled out a medical condition and are still experiencing chase-you-out-of-the-bathroom poop smells, the following are a few ways to get your digestive system back to its happy place.
- Ditch processed foods. As explained above, these can make your poop smell, and mess with every system in your body. They’re not worth it.
- Eat whole, nutritious foods based around plants. Grass-fed meats, organic poultry and organic dairy are nutritious and can be enjoyed in moderation, but keep the focus on fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts and legumes.
- Add probiotic foods to your diet, such as kefir, natural yogurt, kimchi and sauerkraut. Prebiotic veggies are great, too. Eating prebiotic veggies and probiotic foods on a regular basis can help to heal your gut.
- Exercise. Sedentary behavior can slow down your digestion. Stay active to keep things moving smoothly.
- Hydrate. Make sure you’re drinking at least eight glasses of water per day — you may need more if you’re doing intense exercise.
– Tanya Mead