Okay, I know... gross. But I'm a gastroenterologist, so I have to be prepared to answer even crappy questions (pun intended). Poop is made up of the byproducts of digestion, bacteria, waste products from the body, discarded cells, and bile products.
What is poop made of?
Bacteria - About 20% of human poop consists of bacteria. Thats about 1,000,000,000,000 (1 trillion) bacteria per gram of poop! Believe it or not, these bacteria help us digest our food and even help with the production of vitamin K, needed for blood clotting. The great majority of poop bacteria are found in the colon. The small intestines and stomach contain a relatively small amount of bacteria. Antibiotics can kill bacteria in the colon, however if too much of the "good" bacteria is destroyed, bad bacteria can thrive and cause diarrhea or a more serious illness.
Unfortunately, bacterial byproducts of digestion also contribute to the bad smell of poop and can create an uncomfortable amount of gas (i.e., bloating and well... gas!).
Bile - Bile pigments give poop a brown, green or yellow color. Poop without bile is gray or pale and may signify a serious medical condition. The majority of bile is absorbed back into the body in the small intestines, but enough bile pigments remain to color the stool.
Undigestible food - Humans are not able to digest many types of fiber. This and other undigestible products give stool the majority of its bulk. I don't need to tell you about peanuts and corn, right?
Old, dead cells - The lining of the intestines is constantly damaged by the digestive process. Old cells on the surface of the intestinal walls constantly flake off and are eliminated in the stool.
Mucus - A large amount of mucus is produced by the cells in the intestinal walls. This mucus protects the inside surface of the intestines and helps keep the stool from sticking.
Water - The majority of water is removed from poop in the colon. When the cells on the inside surface of the colon are damaged by inflammation or an infection, water may not be absorbed back into the body. This causes diarrhea. Once the colon wall cells are replaced with healthy cells, water can be absorbed and the diarrhea will stop.
What is diarrhea?
Diarrhea is basically poop... with more water... and sometimes more mucus.
Last Updated (Monday, 13 July 2009 20:03)