Is there a direct relation between the amount you eat and how much comes out at the other end

00:00 Mon 15th Apr 2002 |

asks msminor:
The average person in Britain produces around 250g of faeces a day, although that can vary greatly from individual to individual.

Q. How does that compare to the rest of the world
The Western diet produces about the same everywhere. It's quite different in in Africa and Asia, where the average amount of faces produced is�twice that amount.

Q. Why
A. People in these areas tend to eat more fibre. The only way to increase the weight of faeces is to increase the amount of fibre you eat - unfermented fibre holds a lot of water.

Q. What percentage of faeces is water
A. Faeces consists of 75% water and 25% cent solid matter. The solid matter is made up of various indigestible materials - such as fruit skins (33%), dead bacteria which normally live in the gut (50%), inorganic matter such as calcium salts, cells shed from the gut, intestinal secretions including mucus, and bile pigments which give it its colour.

Q. Is what you eat reflected in how much you excrete
How much faeces you actually produce depends on a number of factors: how much food you have eaten, what type of food it was, and how active your bowel is.

If, for example, you eat lots of high-fibre foods - including vegetables, beans and cereals - which the body can't completely digest and absorb, you will produce more faeces than if you eat lots of easily digested low-fibre foods, such as chocolate or highly processed foods.

Q. Does anything else affect the outcome
Yes. Spicy foods can make a difference, as can certain drugs (such as laxatives). And if you have an infection, that may affect how active your bowel is. The faster the food goes through your bowel, the less water your colon will be able to absorb, and you will produce a larger amount of faeces.

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