Undigested food particles in your stool can be due to how quickly your body digests food and the types of foods you eat. While it’s usually not a big concern, ongoing digestion problems can lead to conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, celiac disease, or pancreatic issues.
To tell if it’s undigested food or blood in your stool, follow this simple rule:
- If it’s solid, it’s probably food.
- If it’s liquid, it could be blood.
Bloody stools may indicate serious conditions like Hemorrhoids. Doctors may perform tests like colonoscopies or blood tests to determine the cause.
Your stool’s appearance can change from day to day because your meals differ. So, finding bits of undigested food in your stool from time to time isn’t usually a cause for worry. However, it’s wise to keep an eye on what you pass, just in case something that seems like undigested food turns out to be more than that.
What are the most common causes of unprocessed food pieces in your stool?
Foods from plants, like veggies and grains, contain complex carbs that can be tough for your body to fully digest. This can leave bits of food in your stool, as if they skipped the digestion process.
Normally, it takes 24 to 72 hours for food to travel through your digestive system. But some folks have a speedier motility rate, causing food to pass too quickly. This rush can result in undigested food in your stool.
Digestion begins in your mouth when you chew your food. Incomplete chewing means bigger food bits, making it harder for your stomach and intestines to do their job.
Fiber is great for your health, but it can bulk up your stool. For example, the skins of veggies like bell peppers and tomatoes may end up in your stool. This is totally normal and nothing to worry about.
What does it means to have bloody stools?
Before jumping to conclusions, it’s important to confirm if the red particles in your stool are genuinely blood. Sometimes, red bits can come from foods like beets, tomatoes, or cranberries. Similarly, blackish stools can result from undigested foods like black licorice, dark leafy vegetables, or blueberries. Once you’re certain it’s blood in your stool, there are a few potential reasons for it:
- Rectum and Colon Issues: Cancers or polyps can develop along the inner lining of your colon or rectum. Polyps may or may not turn into cancer, but it’s crucial to seek medical attention in such cases.
- Anal Fissures: You can recognize this condition because it’s painful when passing stool. It occurs due to ongoing constipation or diarrhea, causing tiny tears in the lining of your anus. Promptly treating constipation or diarrhea can help.
- Hemorrhoids: These happen when blood vessels near your anus swell, potentially leading to bleeding. Typically, it’s just a small amount of blood with your stool.
Is there any test to diagnosis for bloody stools?
If you see blood in your stool and you’re sure it’s not from food, contact your doctor without delay. Your doctor may suggest various tests to find out what’s causing the bleeding:
- Colonoscopies: A camera is inserted through your anus to check your colon.
- Upper Endoscopy: Similar to colonoscopy but for your upper digestive tract.
- Stool Culture and Blood Tests: Standard methods to check for issues.
- Capsule Endoscopy: In rare cases, a capsule with a tiny camera inside can be swallowed to take images of your digestive tract. It’s a less physically uncomfortable option compared to other tests.
These screening methods are especially valuable for identifying colorectal cancer in patients. In fact, a Cochrane review involving over 300,000 patients across Denmark, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Sweden showed a 16% reduction in mortality for screened patients compared to those who were not screened.
If you spot tomato skin-like red bits in your stool, it’s likely just pieces of tomato skin. But if you suspect it could be blood, it’s wise to think about screenings done by doctors, such as colonoscopies.
Colonoscopies are the best way to detect underlying conditions, especially colorectal cancer, according to the US National Library of Medicine, Despite being a bit invasive, time-consuming, and requiring thorough bowel preparation.
In short, if you see tomato-like bits in your stool, it’s probably just tomato skin. But if you’re worried it might be blood, consider colonoscopies, which are very effective at finding serious issues like colorectal cancer.