Irritable Bowel Syndrome: What’s Your Bowel Telling You?

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Your stool can tell you a lot about the health of your digestion system and overall health. Take a look and see what you can learn from your bowel.

constipation, diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, IBS, Bowel Health, digestive health

Warning! If you’re reading this article while eating you may want to come back to it later. 

While this advice may seem uncommon for people in the Redding and Chico areas, and it’s not something we usually talk about, looking at your bowel movement daily has its benefits. It can give you a lot of information about the health of your gastrointestinal system, and your overall health. Observing your stool not only gives insight to the health of your digestion system, but also offers a look at your overall health status, because internal health starts in the digestive tract.

There are three characteristics to consider –color, consistency and shape. By observing the color, consistency and shape of your stool, you can gain important insights into what’s going on inside of you.

What color is your stool?  Your stool should be brown colored, but color may vary from light tan to black depending on what is happening in your digestion system.

A dark brown stool can be a normal finding, but consistently dark brown stools are associated with a sluggish colon. This type of color may indicate that you have an overgrowth of harmful bacteria and too little “friendly” bacteria. Frequently we get complaints of "IBS dark brown stool" from patients

Black stools can indicate bleeding in the upper gastro intestinal tract and should be evaluated by a medical doctor. Some drugs, iron supplements, bismuth (Pepto-Bismol) or a heavy meat diet may also produce black stools.

Tan or clay colored stools often point to gall bladder insufficiency or blockage of the common bile duct. Tan colored stools often occur when you are eating too much fat, or not processing fat well.

Yellow stools are frequently seen with severe diarrhea, antibiotic use, and lack of “friendly” intestinal flora. Many patients complain of yellow stool IBS, or IBS yellow stool.

Green colored stools, when you haven’t been drinking beer on St. Patrick’s Day, may indicate gall bladder dysfunction, and insufficient stomach acid.

For more on what the color of your stool can tell you about your health click here.

Observing the consistency of your bowel movements can yield important information about your health as well.

Undigested food in the stool may be a sign that you are not chewing your food well. So take my grandmother’s admonishments to heart- chew your food until it’s a liquid. If you’re chewing your food well, and still have undigested food in your stools, you may have insufficient stomach acid, or insufficient pancreatic enzyme production. Supplementing your diet with a professionally formulated enzyme formula supports better digestion. 

Mucous usually indicates irritation to the gastrointestinal tract. This can be caused by food sensitivities and emotional stress. Testing for food sensitivities, modifying your diet, and desensitizing  your body from any food intolerances and sensitivities can help you improve the internal state of your health.

Loose stools, can point to malabsorption of minerals, vitamins and key nutrients.

Hard stools are associated with constipation, and can occur if you have delayed transit time, too little fiber, and dehydration or decreased stomach acid production. Constipation subjects your body to toxic alcohols, which are produced by putrefying food. Failure to eliminate regularly stresses your liver and immune system, which creates a number of chronic conditions.


Ribbon-like stools are common with a spastic bowel and irritable bowel syndrome or IBS, but can indicate more serous conditions such as narrowing of the bowel, or a partial obstruction. 

Small, round and hard stools are often found with chronic constipation. 

Floating stools often indicate a malabsorption problem.  patients often complain of IBS and floating stool. Floating stools are usually caused by excessive amounts of fat in the diet, or poor fat digestion. Go easy on fast food!

Observing your stool not only gives insight to the health of your digestion system, but also offers a look at your overall health status, because internal health starts in the digestive tract.

Nourishing your body depends on your ability to digest and absorb the food you eat. Inability to digest or absorb even the highest quality foods can result in nutritional deficiencies that stress the entire body. 

Good nutrition also means that cellular waste is transported and eliminated from the body effectively. Failure to eliminate properly can produce skin rashes, fatigue, headaches, yeast or Candida overgrowth, excessive gas or irritable bowel. Bowel irregularities can give you a lot more to be concerned about than mere discomfort and inconvenience. 

If you suffer from chronic bowel problems such as constipation, diarrhea, bloating after eatingirritable bowel syndrome, or IBS scheduling a consultation with Dr. Patrick in his Chico office may be the beginning of a healthier you!

Dr. Patrick Giammarise, DC, Internal Health Specialist, Founder of the Digestion Relief Center, in Chico California, specializes in effective, natural relief for IBS, food sensitivities and digestive problems. Learn more at or by visiting his office in Chico, California.  People in the Redding or Paradise area may also call for appointments.  Our phone # is 530-899-8741.

2009, © Dr. Patrick Giammarise, DC. All Rights Reserved.

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Call our office today and schedule a consultation with Dr. Patrick so you can be free of the pain and discomfort associated with Irritable Bowel Syndrome


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