Bristol Scale: What the Color and Texture of Stool Can Say About Your Health |  Drauzio Varella

Bristol Scale: What the Color and Texture of Stool Can Say About Your Health | Drauzio Varella

Both the shape and color of stools and the frequency of bowel movements offer clues about our health.

Faeces say a lot about our health, although the topic is taboo. On several occasions, doctors ask us about the consistency and shape of stools, and we don’t always know the answer, although there are ways to identify them. Through Bristol scalefor example, it is possible to diagnose liver, pancreatic, autoimmune and feeding problems.

But how is this classification made? And what can faeces point to our body?

Origin of the Bristol Scale

The Bristol scale was developed by researchers Stephen Lewis and Ken Heaton, from the University of Bristol, in England, and published in the “Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology”, in 1997. It is a predominantly graphic table that serves to classify the form of waste into seven groups and to point out whether the functioning of the intestine can be considered normal or abnormal.

“The Bristol scale allows the patient to easily describe, through images, how their stools are in that period. With this we can have an aid in the diagnosis of diseases such as colitis, constipation, anal incontinenceinfectious diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome etc”, explains coloproctologist Marcella Sousa, a member of Grupo Procto Brasil. According to the doctor, feces act as messengers, with important warnings through the shape, color or regularity of the evacuation. A warning sign that might say: see a doctor.

See also: How many days can I go without going to the bathroom?


On the Bristol scale, stools are divided into 7 groups according to their shape and consistency.

– Type 1: they are small hard balls, separated and difficult to get out;

– Type 2: small lumps grouped in the shape of a sausage;

– Type 3: elongated stools with cracks on the surface;

– Type 4: smooth and soft elongated stools;

– Type 5: soft pieces, separated, with defined edges and easy to come out;

– Type 6: pasty and fluffy dough with irregular edges;

– Type 7: Totally liquid stool, without any solid pieces.

Regarding the types, Dr. Marcella explains that 3, 4 and 5 are considered normal. Types 1 and 2 may indicate constipation; and 6 and 7 are associated with diseases that evolve with diarrhea.

“Consistency, shape, color and odor can say a lot about your gut health. Abdominal pain, frequent bloating, excess gas and bleeding are also characteristics that may indicate a problem”, he explains.

This same observation is shared by proctologist Maria Eduarda Trevisan, who reaffirms the importance of a healthy intestine: “We must evacuate at least three times a week, with soft and pasty, well-formed stools (categories 3 and 4 of the Bristol scale). ), without presence of blood or mucus and that does not cause pain or require effort in evacuation”, he explains. Even with this regularity and with the intestine functioning properly, people over 45 and without a family history of colorectal cancer (according to the American and European Cancer Societies; in Brazil, the exam is indicated from the age of 50) need to undergo exams to prevent colorectal cancer.

See also: Functioning of the intestines | Interview

The importance of food

For the proper functioning of the intestine, food plays a key role. That’s what Dr. Maria Eduarda. “For the intestine to function properly, a set of habits is needed that include a good intake of fiber and water and the practice of physical activities”, she says.

The recommendation, according to the proctologist, is consume 25 to 35 grams of fiber per day. In general, they are in greater quantity in vegetables, legumes and seeds, such as flaxseed, chia and oats”, he points out.

Drinking plenty of water is also recommended. “Drink around 35 ml of water for every kilo of body. That is, an adult weighing 60 kg should drink, on average, 2 liters of water daily”, exemplifies the doctor.

And, finally, the practice of physical activity is also a relevant factor when talking about intestinal health: “Mainly aerobics. It should fit into our routine, at least 3 times a week, for at least 30 minutes.”

Regarding food, a tip is worth noting: it should be noted that certain foods can influence the color of stools without this indicating any important change. Spinach generates dark green stools; chorizo ​​causes black droppings; beetroot leaves residues red; and carrots can give the stool an orange tinge. Without these foods, the normal color varies from brown to light brown.

Even though it is possible to identify health problems or dietary deficiencies through the color and texture of the stool, it is always advisable to consult your doctor and perform tests before taking medication or making drastic changes in your diet.

See also: Inflammatory bowel diseases in 5 questions | Rogério Saad

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