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Why does poo smell bad?

Why does poop smell so bad? It's just food right?

3515 day(s) ago

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Why poop stinks is a common question. Many people wonder how such wonderfully tasting and smelling food can come out so foul and dirty. The answer is in what happens to the food as it travels through the digestive system. The end product, feces (the medical term for poop), is mostly water. About ¾ of feces is water. This can change depending on many factors. Diarrhea, of course, has much higher water content than solid/dry feces. What is not water can be divided into three parts. 1/3 is undigested plant material. We call this plant material fiber and it is useful keeping our digestive system clean. The second third is mixture of fat, salts, dead body cells, protein, and mucus from the intestinal lining. The last third is the main culprit in the smell of feces. The last third is a mix of live and dead bacteria.

Our digestive system does not work by itself. Our bodies are filled with bacteria that we have created a symbiotic relationship with. That means we help each other perform necessary functions of life. We give the bacteria a home and food and in return, the bacteria help us break down and release the nutrients of our own food. The stink of feces is created by these bacteria as they break down the food. It is not enough the food is physically broken into little pieces, the food must be broken down by chemical reactions. The bacteria create the chemical reactions as a process of their own eating of our food. As the food breaks down through the chemical reactions, both the food and the bacteria release organic compounds that are rich in sulfur. These compounds create the smell we have all come to despise.

As a note of interest, nurses in the maternity ward claim that a baby’s first poop, while black and sticky, has very little smell. It is theorized that this is because babies have not yet acquired the bacteria in their digestive systems. As they drink mother’s milk, the bacteria enters the baby’s system to take up permanent residence.

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