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Bristol Stool Scale

Classifying the fecal form of omnivores, vegetarians, and vegans.

October 12, 2010 |
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Transcript

Last year, the University of Bristol celebrated their 100 year anniversary. Prestigious institution of higher learning. Produced nine Nobel laureates and the Bristol Stool Scale, a medical tool used to classify the fecal form. Seven different classifications.
Type 1: Looks like rabbit droppings. Separate hard lumps, like nuts, hard to pass.
Type 2: Looks like a, buncha grapes. Sausage-shaped, but lumpy.
Type 3: Looks like corn on the cob.
Type 4: Like a sausage or snake, smooth and soft.
Type 5: Looks like chicken nuggets. I don’t think I’ll be able to look at chicken nuggets quite the same way ever again.
Type 6: looks like porridge, and Type 7: Looks like gravy. You got to love them Brits.
The best #2 is a #4, a smooth and soft snake. Unfortunately, only a minority of adults enjoy normal bowel function, and only about half pass normal stools. Wow. And younger women, due to hormonal fluctuations throughout their cycle, are particularly disadvantaged. But this is for people eating a standard Western diet. Wouldn’t it be neat if some reserachers compared bowel function measurements between individuals eating different diets? It would, and they did.
Bowel function was assessed: omnivores, versus vegetarians, versus vegans. Each subject was provided with a “stool collection kit,” a stack-a-boxes each used to accommodate one stool only, reducing the risk of specimens becoming squashed. They weren’t messing around.
So, meat-eaters versus plant-eaters, put to the test. First question: where did the meat-eaters fall. Does the average bowel movement of meateaters look like rabbit droppings, bunches of grapes, corn on the cob, a smooth and soft sausage, chicken nuggets, oatmeal, or gravy.
Meateaters, on average, poop out corn cob stools. What about vegetarians? 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, or 7? #4, right where we want to be. And finally, what about vegans, on average? Number 4 as well.
But, vegans actually ended up beating vegetarians, because none of the vegans had the hard rabbit-turd stools, whereas a few of the vegetarians, like a bunch of the meat-eaters, struggled to pass type 1’s. And, the smoooooth vegan snakes were softer—exactly 18% softer. How could they tell? Using a stool penetrometer of course.
An editorial in the Canadian Medical Association Journal celebrated the finding this year, calling on doctors to tell all their patients to eat a plant-based diet, as vegetarian diets can only help push patients into the comfortable middle range of the much-beloved Bristol Stool Scale.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

To help out on the site please email volunteer@nutritionfacts.org

Dr. Michael Greger

Doctor's Note

Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. And check out the other videos on stool. Also, there are 1,686 other subjects covered in the rest of my videos--please feel free to explore them as well!

For some context, please check out my associated blog posts: Bowel Movements: The Scoop on PoopKiwi Fruit for Irritable Bowel Syndrome, NutritionFacts.org: the first month, Boosting Gut Flora Without Probiotics, and Best Treatment for Constipation

If you haven't yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/adamholt/ adamholt

    Nice… by the way, I’m happy to have come across this site. I’m a primary care doctor in Wisconsin and likely will be recommending certain things to patients. Thanks a lot!

    • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/mgreger/ Michael Greger M.D.

      What?! No laminated Bristol Scale in your white coat pocket? :)

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/BenjaminStone/ Benjamin Stone

    My 7 year old loves this video. He is asking all his friends where they are on the Bristol Stool Scale!

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/wmelillo/ wmelillo

    I look forward to your daily videos. Today’s video has made me a real fan. Informative and funny! You are great.

    • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/mgreger/ Michael Greger M.D.

      You’re so sweet to take the time to leave a note. Because even the scientific nutrition literature can be such dry technobabble, I’m always trying to find ways to insert some humor or something just so the material’s not so dense. Sometimes I’m more successful than others, but I have been looking forward to posting the one this morning. Whole new meaning to the term “brain food”! :)

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/KarenHyde/ Karen Hyde

    I love this one! Your delivery is pitched perfectly.

    • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/mgreger/ Michael Greger M.D.

      Thank you Karen, it wasn’t easy to do it with a straight face!

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/toxins/ Toxins

    Nasty to visualize but informative! Amazing website, you put alot of work in these videos

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/beachwalker/ Beachwalker

    I think I’m glad looking at this Bristol Scale. My stools have changed a bit. And according to this scale, I’m a “Type 4″. I don’t eat meat. Maybe once in a while I have fish. I was still sometimes a Type 3, but the past month I’ve only been a 4. So I hope that doesn’t mean anything bad. I don’t feel blocked up, or blotted, So the thinner type 4 is where I’m at now. I’ve been a vegetarian for several years and am pre-menopausal.

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/dconlisk/ dconlisk

    I have created an iPhone application which brings the Bristol Stool Scale to your iPhone. It’s easy to use, and easy to understand. Over time it creates a graph of your stool quality which you can share with your health professional. This could help in monitoring the effects of lifestyle or drug changes, medical treatments, etc, over time. The app also includes links to some online resources and a brief explanation of each type of stool.

    If you’d like to know more have a look at the website here: http://www.bristol-stool-scale.com/

    Thanks,

    David

    • abeleehane

      Do you use the iPhone as a stool penetrometor ???

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/TanTruong/ Tan Truong

    dconlisk, I thought you were kidding.

    I don’t own an iPhone, but I’ll be sure to get the word out.

    Sausage stoolers unite!

  • Dz

    Vegan Poop Power!!! Lol!!!
    Great video.

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    Also be sure to check out my associated blog post Bowel Movements: The Scoop on Poop!

  • PandaB

    One more reason to celebrate the year of the snake!

  • tavit

    my stool fits into type 4 fortunately but why is it little bit greenish sometimes?

    • WamaJK

      I strive for the green stools, because that’s how I know I’ve eaten enough greens. Embrace your green sausages!

      • Tommasina

        too funny! :D

  • abeleehane

    What a “crappy” video ! :-)

    • Sebastian Tristan

      It’s full of sh*t.