Floating And Sinking Poop
What happens if your poop floats? Does that mean something?
Judging by the number of times it is asked, this question is a source of great concern to the masses. The Floaters versus Sinkers controversy (hey, wouldn't those be great names for PoopReport basketball teams?) has been raging since time began... OK, since the Internet began... OK, since this morning.
WHAT MAKES POOP FLOAT?
Surprisingly, not what you might think.
Conventional medical wisdom attributes Floaters to the amount of fat in your poop. While this IS true for certain diseases (cystic fibrosis, celiac disease, biliary atresia, abetalipoprotenimia and a few other weird sounding illnesses), it is NOT true for your run-of-the-mill healthy person.
Vegetarians would have you believe that the "perfect" stool (that is, one uncontaminated by the consumption of animal parts) is the Floater. Many vegetarians have spent their entire lives in the quest to produce perfection -- when in fact no particular diet can reliably produce Floaters. The vast majority of us bring forth Sinkers.
Sinkers really need a good P.R. person -- they have gotten a bad rap over the ages. Sure, Floaters are cute and all, but a good solid Sinker will never let you down.
BACK TO WHAT MAKES POOP FLOAT...
Actually, it is gas that does it. Increased levels of air and gas in the poop make it less dense, and cause it to float. Simple as that. Dietary changes can lead to an increase in the amount of gas produced by the bacteria that live in the gut, which is probably what the vegetarians are basing their whole "perfect stool" theory on. I don't know -- the whole time I was vegan I never consistently produced Floaters.
Then, after a couple of years, I grew disenchanted and yearned for a hamburger. And that was the end of Poonurse the Vegetarian.
WHY DOES IT MATTER?
Well, I'm a little unclear on that. It must matter greatly to a lot of people, or else they wouldn't take so much time to write to me about it. I guess it could matter if you are worried that you are sick or something.
If you have diarrheal-esque Floaters for more than two weeks, you may have a malabsorption problem -- a dysfunction of the GI tract that affects the body's ability to digest and absorb fat. Acute gastrointestinal infections can also result in increased gas content in the intestines, due to rapid movement of stool through the GI tract.
So I am forced to assume that Floaters are NOT the most desirable of all stools. Sinkers are by far more common. Don't spend your life chowing down on tofu burgers just because you think you are being cheated out of a Floater. Neither tofu burgers nor Floaters are worth the trouble. Sinkers are our destiny.
Thanks for asking Poonurse!
Poonurse is an RN with 25 years experience in labor and delivery. Her qualifications
include seeing a lot of poop, and owning a computer. Also, she works in Michigan, which she calls the asshole
of the universe, so that's another bit of credibility.
Got a question for her?