What It Means When Your Poop Doesn't Smell

Chatting with a healthcare provider might be the rare occasion you find yourself describing the appearance and scent of your stool. It's not exactly everyday coffee talk, but pooping is an entirely normal bodily function. More than that, it's a crucial indicator of your digestive well-being.

Poop, aka stools or feces, comes in all sorts of consistencies, colors, and, yes, even odors. Much of this comes down to what you eat and your digestive health. And if you catch a whiff of something unusual, it could be a sign of a health issue.

Dr. Anish Sheth, a gastroenterologist based in Princeton and the author of "What's Your Poo Telling You?", shared insights to Men's Journal regarding digestion. He explained that in individuals with a healthy digestive system, "most of the digestion and processes will take place in the small intestine," which results in minimal undigested food reaching the colon. Conversely, for those with less efficient digestion, undigested food can travel to the colon, where it undergoes fermentation by bacteria, resulting in foul-smelling stool and increased gas production.

If your poop is less fragrant than it's been in the past, though, you might wonder why that is. The answer may be as simple as what you're eating. 

Why plant-based diet makes poop less stinky

But one's digestion is just part of the equation. Diet also plays a significant role. That being said, tweaking what you eat can actually influence the odor of your poop. So, if you just changed your eating habits and noticed that your recent trips to the toilet are a bit less aromatic, there's a good reason for that.

Plenty of research proves how plant-based diets are good for a person's gut microbiome and overall digestive health. Because of a plant-based diet's effect on one's digestion, it makes sense if it also affects your poop's smell. Dr Sheth shares with Fast Company that "plant-based diets create less smelly flatulence and stool because they're low in mercaptans."

When your body digests food like red meat, it produces these sulfur-containing compounds that lend your stool — and even your urine — its rancid, rotten cabbage or egg smell. If you've recently shifted to a diet that's richer in vegetables and less meat, you might notice your poop doesn't smell as strong. That's because you're likely taking in fewer of these smelly sulfuric compounds.

The Atlantic also highlights that numerous fruits and vegetables are abundant in probiotics, which foster beneficial gut bacteria and enhance digestive function. Additionally, as noted by Squatty Poop, these good bacteria play a role in not only promoting digestive health but also in helping you have better-smelling gas and poop.

Other ways plant-based eating affects your poop

But less smelly poop is just one of the many ways plant-based eating affects your poop. According to a 2022 study published in the journal Nutrients, vegetarians are less prone to bowel disorders like constipation than meat-eaters, thanks to their higher fiber intake leading to softer and more regular bowel movements.

Meanwhile, a 2021 study sought to compare the different effects of Western and Mediterranean-type diets and found that the individuals who were on the Mediterranean diet produced bigger stools and farted more.

It's also worth noting that research suggests that embracing a plant-based diet can increase the good bacteria in your gut and boost your overall health. The National Institutes of Health states that healthy gut microbiota is crucial for keeping the intestinal lining strong, processing vital nutrients, and supporting the immune system.

Additionally, cutting down or ditching meat can help lower your blood pressure, prevent diseases like heart disease and diabetes, and help you live longer (via Everyday Health).