The well-known causes for various food particles in your stool could be your motility rate by which your food digest and the consumption of plant-based foods. While this shouldn’t worry you, constant indigestion can lead to conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Celiac disease, and pancreatic insufficiency.
The best way to identify an undigested food piece from blood is by prodding such fleck after extracting it. In simple terms, if it’s solid, it’s a food particle, and if it’s a liquid, it could be blood. Having bloody stools can signify various serious conditions like Hemorrhoids, and doctors may conduct various screening tests like colonoscopies and blood tests to determine this.
Defecation or passing stools is the final act of digestion which involves the excretion of a solid, somewhat solid, or even liquid waste material from your digestive tract. Appearance-wise, your stool can always differ from time to time since you don’t have the same meal every day.
So, you shouldn’t be too shocked when you find weird scraps of undigested food in your stool from time to time, while it’s always best to be aware of what you pass just in case that funny weird scrap turns out to be something more than a mere piece of food.
What are the most common reasons for unprocessed food particles in your stool? What are some probable undigested-food related diseases? How can you know for sure if it’s undigested food or blood in your stool, given the fact that both are reddish in color? What does having bloody stools mean? What tests are available to identify the exact cause of your bloody stool?
Table of Contents
Common causes for unprocessed food pieces in your stool?
- Plant-based foods – Plant-based foods are often more difficult to digest because it contains complex carbs that your body struggles with when converting them into calories. Due to this, you may often notice little scraps of food remaining in your stool almost as if it skipped the digestive process.
- Motility rate – Usually the process of your food going through the digestive tract takes up about 24 to 72 hours. But some people tend to have a higher than usual motility rate in which food passes much sooner, leaving less time for the food particles to be properly broken down.
- Lack of chewing – The appearance of our stool also depends on the extent of our chewing up of food. The breaking down of your food in your mouth by munching on it is what starts up the digestion process. So if you don’t chew your food thoroughly, there’s a high chance that you’ll notice scraps of undigested food in your stool.
- High fiber foods – This is a very likely possibility as to why you notice red tomato skin in your stool. While eating fibrous foods is beneficial to your body health, its very nature can add bulk into your stool, especially when it comes to skins of various vegetables like bell peppers and tomatoes. This is of course nothing to worry about and is completely normal.
The undigested food-related health conditions
While occasionally seeing a red tomato skin-like piece in your stool is nothing to be too bothered about, you may have to raise a bit of concern in situations where it’s followed by changes in your usual bowel habits like uncontrollable diarrhea which lasts for over a few days, abrupt weight loss and blood in your stool. Here are a few health conditions that such symptoms could be hinting at.
|Chron’s disease||This is a common condition according to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America, which reports 780,000 cases in America itself. It involves the inflammation of the digestive tract.|
|Irritable Bowel Syndrome||This can cause constipation, diarrhea, and mucus in your stool. As per the US National Library of Medicine, it can also cause gas or flatulence, known as the most commonly diagnosed gastrointestinal disease.|
|Lactose Intolerance||This condition involves the inability of your digestive system to break down a kind of sugar known as lactose, and according to the Cleveland Clinic, more than 30 million in America alone suffer from it.|
|Celiac disease||This is a digestive disorder triggered by an abnormal immune reaction to gluten. According to the University of Chicago Medical Center, if you’ve got a parent or sibling with the same condition, there’s a chance that you too will develop it.|
|Pancreatic Insufficiency||This condition is developed due to your pancreas’s inability to produce enough digestive enzymes to break down your food. You can fight this off by taking various supplements and making diet changes.|
How can you know for sure if it’s blood or undigested food in your stool?
Trying to figure out if those scattered red pieces in your stool are blood or just tomato skin pieces can be a confusing task, especially when you abruptly notice this while in the toilet. The best way to distinguish the red pieces in your stool by yourself is by firstly making sure there is bright lighting in the bathroom.
It’s also always better to keep a pocket magnifying glass with you all the time since the risk of it being blood may hint at a more serious health condition.
You’ll need a pointy object such as a large pin or a pair of tweezers for this task. You need to slowly aim at the red fleck in your stool and attempt to extract it onto a white paper plate or cardboard to clearly see it. A white background always helps. If the speck can be easily removed from your stool and seems to be somewhat of a chunky solid, which you can prod about on the paper plate, the chances are that it’s simply a piece of undigested food which you have absolutely nothing to worry about.
However, if you find it difficult to extract it and if it’s a liquid substance and sort of smudges along with the stool when you prod it, it is most definitely blood.
What does having bloody stools mean?
It’s always best to carry out the test mentioned previously to make sure that it is indeed blood since red particles in the stool could be from beets, tomatoes, or cranberries. At the same time, blackish stool could also indicate undigested foods like black licorice, dark leafy vegetables, and blueberries.
So, now that you’re sure that it is indeed blood in your stool, there’s a range of possibilities that could be causing this issue.
- Hemorrhoids – This is caused by the swelling of blood vessels around the area of your anus. Once it’s swollen, the high pressure can cause it to rupture and cause bleeding. Usually, this would be like a few drops of blood that come out along with your stool.
- Anal Fissures – The way that you can always easily distinguish this condition is since it’s quite painful when passing your stool. This is caused by constant constipation or diarrhea which creates small tears along the lining of your anus. The best way to counter this is by treating your constipation or diarrhea immediately.
- Cancers and polyps of the rectum and colon – These cancers slowly grow along the inner lining of your colon or rectum and are known as ‘polyps’. Polyps can usually develop into cancer, although not always. So it’s best to seek immediate medical assistance in this type of case.
What tests can you do to get a proper diagnosis for bloody stools?
If you’re experiencing bloody stools, you definitely should contact your doctor after you’re convinced that this is indeed blood and not a scrap of undigested food.
Then, accordingly, your doctor will perform various tests on you. Out of the most common are colonoscopies, which involve inserting a camera device into your anus to get a clear graphic view of your colon. An upper endoscopy could also be suggested by again entering a camera to view your upper digestive tract.
Stool culture and blood tests are also standard methods doctors would adopt to study abnormalities.
Compared to the physical discomfort in most of these tests, a capsule endoscopy could be recommended as it simply involves the swallowing of a tiny capsule that has a camera within it to take images of your digestive tract.
These kinds of screening methods are extremely useful, especially when it comes to identifying colorectal cancer in patients.
A Cochrane review including above 300,000 patients in Denmark, United Kingdom, United States, and Sweden revealed a 16% mortality reduction when comparing screened patients with non-screened ones.
Red tomato skin-like pieces in the stool could just be tomato skin.
But on the off chance that it is blood, you should always resort to screenings conducted by doctors like colonoscopies.
Despite the invasiveness of the test, the high amount of time taken, and the intense cleansing processes you need to go through in bowel preparation. Conducting colonoscopies are a ‘gold standard when it comes to detecting an underlying condition, especially colorectal cancer according to the US National Library of Medicine.