Bowels of the Earth

Bowels of the Earth
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Which country has the largest (and smallest) average stool size?

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Who’s number 1 at number two? The country with the largest average bowel movements? Denmark, India, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa, Tonga (an island in the South Pacific), the UK, or the US of A? Remember, the target minimum fecal output is 200 grams a day—about half a pound.

And the winner of the Bowels of the Earth contest was Tonga at 531! The only other country to make the 200 target was India, who gets the silver at 311, with individual measurements ranging up to 1,505 grams—that’s more than three pounds a day! That’s impressive. And the bronze goes to Japan at 195—almost made the cutoff. Everyone else fell short, though, with the smallest stools in the world colored red, white, and blue. U.S. vegetarians fared better, though, as did vegetarian and especially vegan Brits.

There actually was one population that did even worse than the standard American diet. The smallest average population bowel movement size ever recorded: New Yorkers. That’s less than 3 ounces a day.

Instead of just living there, if only they would actually eat a big apple once in a while.

On the other end of the spectrum, though, what are they eating in Tonga? Well, this was recorded decades ago, when they were still eating their traditional plant-based diet of taro, greens, sweet potatoes, fruit, more greens, bananas, cabbage, etcetera.

Now, tragically, the most frequently consumed food item in the country is “imported chicken parts.”

And this is what happened. From one of the healthiest nations in the world, to one of the most obese. Thanks, in part, to the Westernization of their diets.

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 Dianne Moore.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Who’s number 1 at number two? The country with the largest average bowel movements? Denmark, India, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa, Tonga (an island in the South Pacific), the UK, or the US of A? Remember, the target minimum fecal output is 200 grams a day—about half a pound.

And the winner of the Bowels of the Earth contest was Tonga at 531! The only other country to make the 200 target was India, who gets the silver at 311, with individual measurements ranging up to 1,505 grams—that’s more than three pounds a day! That’s impressive. And the bronze goes to Japan at 195—almost made the cutoff. Everyone else fell short, though, with the smallest stools in the world colored red, white, and blue. U.S. vegetarians fared better, though, as did vegetarian and especially vegan Brits.

There actually was one population that did even worse than the standard American diet. The smallest average population bowel movement size ever recorded: New Yorkers. That’s less than 3 ounces a day.

Instead of just living there, if only they would actually eat a big apple once in a while.

On the other end of the spectrum, though, what are they eating in Tonga? Well, this was recorded decades ago, when they were still eating their traditional plant-based diet of taro, greens, sweet potatoes, fruit, more greens, bananas, cabbage, etcetera.

Now, tragically, the most frequently consumed food item in the country is “imported chicken parts.”

And this is what happened. From one of the healthiest nations in the world, to one of the most obese. Thanks, in part, to the Westernization of their diets.

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 Dianne Moore.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to flagpedia.net

Doctor's Note

For more on stool and your health, check out:
Stool pH and Colon Cancer
Bulking Up on Antioxidants
Preventing Ulcerative Colitis with Diet
Bowel Wars: Hydrogen Sulfide vs. Butyrate
Prunes vs. Metamucil vs. Vegan Diet

For information on stool size, check out Stool size matters.

For more context, check out my associated blog posts: Bowel MovementsStool Size and Breast Cancer RiskKiwi Fruit for Irritable Bowel SyndromeBowel movements: the scoop on poopBest Treatment for Constipation; and The Best Way to Prevent the Common Cold?

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

21 responses to “Bowels of the Earth

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  1. Thanks for my entertainment for the day Dr. Greger :) Who would’ve thought that talking about feces would be so enlightening.

    There’s the crap we put up with our politics in America and then there’s just plain old crap. For once I wish us Americans would be full of more crap to help reverse the current healthcare crisis going on in this country (politicians and citizens alike).




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  2. Love this video—I can’t stop chuckling. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I just love the graphics and charts on these videos, not to mention Dr. Greger’s droll delivery. Comprehension has taken place.




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  3. Great video! I have a question though. If some people have such small stools and some have such large stools and supposing we all eat about the same quantity of food per day- what happens to the excess weight of food in the people with small stools? Actually, having been in India I wonder if NYers eat more than people in India on a daily basis. Where does it all go?




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    1. i think it stays longer in the colon (i bet being on-the-go all the time trains their bodies to hold on to the poops longer, so that wouldn’t help the situation), so it gets drier. (water weighs quite a bit) so once it comes out, a similar amount of food would produce a much lighter and smaller bunny poop than it would a comfortable log.




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    2. I also think other videos (eg on fiber) suggest that more fiber leads to larger stools. So in your scenario, the two people may be eating the same amount of calories, but the plant eater would be eating a much higher volume of food, due to its fiber content. (Plant eaters are getting more fiber – and other nutrients – per calorie). Fiber causes both faster transit, and due to its voulme, greater stool volume. So someone eating a plain bagel with cream cheese, or white pancakes with syrup, and a coffee with cream and sugar is going to have a smaller denser stool than someone eating a big bowl of oatmeal with soy milk and flaxseeds, plus a big bowl of fruit and nuts even if the calories are the same. But its an unlikely scenario – people eating less fiber eat more calories in order to try to feel full and as their bodies are hungering for nutrients they’re missing. Smaller food volume due to missing fiber means higher calorie diets and overweight. People eating a lot of fiber get full quicker and eat fewer calories. (See Eat to Live by Dr Fuhrman).




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  4. I’m wondering how great a part “stress” plays in stool creation. (since New Yorkers are definitely NOT laid back people on average) Yet there would be lots of other factors, like: water supply, air quality, lowered oxygen levels (due to limited # of trees + lots of exhaust)…not to mention all the restaurants (which would keep food additive consumption higher than a kite!)

    BTW I once lost 40 # doing nothing else but strict avoidance of (even probability) of food additives!




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  5. Where do-do you find your data?  Never mind.  I don’t really want to know.
    Westerners need to be aware of the types of food they’re donating to third-world countries.  Chicken parts!  And I can guess how the chickens were raised.




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  6. what causes colon polyps?i eat a very healthy diet Eat To Live by dr. fuhrman :based on raw and steamed vegetables,salads,berries,apples,beans/legumes and then smaller amounts of grain/starchy veg.everday,i also eat plain unsalted brown rice cakes (topped with cucumber and tomato slices).is there any way rice cakes could lead to colon polyp formation ?




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  7. I have taro growing in my yard and I enjoy eating taro greens. I am aware they contain calcium oxalate and I wonder how much taro greens in my diet is too much?




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  8. Here is an interesting followup. A report came out this week stating that every 90 seconds a New Yorker dies of diabetes-related illness. The city is a nutritional disaster.




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  9. Such great information on so many health issues Thank you so much for sharing all your knowledge & all this research so freely.
    I was diagnosed with IBS 50yrs ago. 10yrs & 3 children later, developed chronic fatigue [Dr.diagnosis “country equivalent to suburban neurosis “! In my mid 30’s with 4 chrn. & at times near suicidal, by elimination diet discovered a SEVERE reaction to wheat, huge rage yet totally exhausted after 1 weetbix ! Have been wheat free ever since, but still far from vital & ‘present ‘.. suffering bouts of depression & lethargy + severe constipation. My diet is mainly my yeast free/ gluten free bread for breakfast,
    egg for lunch, & generally chicken or fish [mainly salmon] for evening meal, always with cooked carrots & greens, occ potato / sweede etc.These past 3 months I have been dairy free [loved cheese !] My concern is re the chicken ..& the high ARACHADONIC acid @ 26.9 … does this include free run / anti biotic/hormone free as well? I have always avoided too much beef as I know it is slow to move thru the colon. My current Dr wants me on a Paeleo diet, No grains , lentils/dried legumes but HIGH meat & fats. i do not tolerate raw vegetables well. Take probiotics & Vit D [ though will now take them WITH MEALS ! THANKS to your site. [I found it when googling ‘when best to take powdered probiotics !
    I really would appreciate your advice re best diet, especially regards chicken & proteins & vegetarian .. Oh I also follow [ to certain extent .. Type A blood group diet ] Again my sincere gratitude for your site Thank you, Dawn




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    1. Dawn: Here are Dr. Greger’s overall diet recommendations:
      http://nutritionfacts.org/2011/09/12/dr-gregers-2011-optimum-nutrition-recommendations/

      You can also get great help from the PCRM site. Sign up for the free 21 Day Kickstart program where they will hold your hand through three weeks of meal planning, cooking videos, nutrition information, and a great forum for moral support and asking questions.

      A doctor who pushes the “paleo” diet? No grains!? No legumes!? High meat and fat?! I really, really hate to do this, but have to suggest getting a new doctor. It is one thing to recognize that one doesn’t know everything and to stay out of an area such as nutrition. But it is quite another to so misdirect someone to the extent that it could seriously hurt their health. Depending on where you live, you should be able to find a doctor who understands nutrition…

      I would also recommend taking a look at the videos on this site that address the topic of “mood”. I’m glad you figured out your wheat problem. With this site, you might be able to tweak your diet further for additional health.

      Best of luck.




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  10. Thank you, Dr. Greger, for shedding light on this toilet topic – you’re connecting people to a daily reminder of how lifestyle food choices really matter. GO FIBER! (40-100 grams daily, to be exact) :)




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