I don’t even think you know how important the Bristol Stool Chart is. And most people don’t want to talk about or look at it. But this post will force you to. Ready?!
What is the Bristol Stool Chart?
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Dr. Ken Heaton, MD from The University of Bristol created The Bristol Stool Chart in 1997, through a study where they measured the transit time of their food from entrance to exit with radiopaque pellets, and had them keep a diary of their stool using this scale. Upon completion of the trial, the Bristol Stool Chart was born as a universal way to track transit time. The chart can be used to help identify gastrointestinal distress or food sensitivities even.
It is a diagnostic medical tool designed to classify the form of human faeces into seven categories.
- 1: Separate hard lumps, like nuts (hard to pass)
- 2: Sausage-shaped, but lumpy
- 3: Like a sausage but with cracks on its surface
- 4: Like a sausage or snake, smooth and soft
- 5: Soft blobs with clear cut edges (easy to pass)
- 6: Fluffy pieces with ragged edges, a mushy stool
- 7: Watery, no solid pieces, entirely liquid
Type “4” is where we all want to be. Types 1 – 3 would indicate constipation; 5 – 7 is more on the diarrhea spectrum.
The Bristol Stool Chart Alternative Names
Alternative names for it that you may see floating (pun?!) around include:
- Bristol Stool Scale
- Poop Chart
- Meyers Scale
- Bristol Stool Form Scale
- BSF Scale
Why Use the Bristol Stool Chart?
For many people, using the Bristol Stool Chart is purely for personal needs. Keeping track of where you’re at is good practice, no matter your situation. But even though many use it sporadically and more for fun than anything else, it is a tool that doctor’s can also use when trying to figure out an underlying problem.
If your “type” has stayed consistently the same for any duration, it could indicate something more serious (i.e. a Type 1 or a Type 7). But you’ll notice I said duration vs. a single day. This is because, on any given day (or even for a full week), bowels could change due to these factors:
- Age-related changes
- Activity levels and exercise
- Illness (such as gastroenteritis or “food poisoning”)
- Hormone-related changes such as during menstruation or pregnancy
- More serious conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease or colon cancer
However, if due to any of those factors, a prolonged (negative) change in Bristol Stool Scale number appears, further investigation must be taken into consideration.
A Type “4” is where we want to be at or hovering around for most of the time.
Bristol Stool Chart Versions
There are so many great visuals of the chart out there. Here are some of my favorites (hover over each one to pin):
If you want to get really bold and brave, grab #3 on the Gut Health Wish List. Like you don’t want to study this with your morning cup ‘o Joe each day, right?!
Now, if you dare to be brave and bold, let’s share about our numbers below in the comments. No shame.
You will heal. I will help.