How Much Waste Can the Intestines Hold?

Do you sometimes wonder how much waste can your intestines hold? The digestive tract may not be the most pleasant topic to talk about, but it’s actually one of the most important systems in the entire human body. Approximately 80% of the entire immune system is housed in the digestive tract alone, making it imperative to make sure your digestive tract is clean and healthy. So don't be shy with this topic and keep reading to find more about it.

How Much Waste Can the Intestines Hold?

The intestines can hold as little as 5 pounds and as much as 25 pounds of waste at any given time, varying greatly depending on your weight and diet. This is because your body is physically unable to completely digest all the foods you consume and some of them can get stuck in the lining of your intestines. Eventually, they accumulate as mucus and fecal matter, weighing up to a shocking 25 pounds. In autopsy, some intestines were found to have up to 40 pounds of waste that looked similar to hardened tire rubber or dried rawhide. This accumulation is called “mucoid plaque” and is characterized by rope-like knots, folds, and creases, much like how the intestinal walls would look and feel.

What Are the Effects of Excessive Waste in Intestines?

As you would expect, the build-up and accumulation of these wastes in your body are not only undesirable, but also very toxic and harmful to your health. Too much waste stuck in your digestive tract can cause some conditions to surface, including weight gain, excessive fatigue, mood swings, memory loss, arthritis, and even heart disease. It can cause digestive issues like constipation, diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, and leaky gut syndrome. Skin conditions like psoriasis, acne, rosacea, and eczema are also quite common. In fact, there are over a staggering 170 serious health problems that have been somehow correlated with the excess buildup of waste in the intestines.

More Facts About Intestinal Health

1. How Often Should I Go to the Bathroom?

There really isn’t an exact answer to this question. Each person’s body and metabolism is different, which means that each one passes stool at different frequencies depending on how much waste can the intestines hold. However, the normal range can be anywhere from thrice a day to once every three days, meaning that an average person would probably need to defecate about once every day. What’s more, the average person would pass stool in a ratio of one ounce for every 12 pounds of the body weight. This translates roughly to a 160-pound person producing a little less than a pound of feces per day.

Releasing watery and loose stool more than four times a day would qualify as diarrhea, while having a schedule with intervals greater than three days would qualify as constipation. Diarrhea can be treated by hydrating regularly, eating solid food, and avoiding coffee, alcohol, pears, and apples. Meanwhile, constipation can be treated by drinking lots of water and eating fibrous food like fruit, nuts, and whole grains. If either condition persists, consult your doctor.

2. What Should the Waste Look Like?

How your stool looks depends on what it’s made of. Majority of the fecal composition – about 75 percent – is just water. The remaining 25% consists of both live and dead bacteria, which aid in the breaking down of food in the digestive tract. It also contains salt, fat, protein, insoluble fibers, cellular linings, and waste material from your liver and intestines. These substances combine, in addition to bilirubin produced by the breakdown of red blood cells, to create the brown color of the stools.

The way your stool looks is also heavily dependent on many other factors, including your water and fiber intake, diet, hydration, physical activity, and even stress level. Some experts have asserted that stool should ideally take on an ‘S’ shape, much like how the colon and intestines look. However, it’s not so much the shape of your stool, but how easily it passes should be the object of your concern.

3. Why Does the Waste Smell?

Given the composition of stool and the amount of "how much waste can the intestines hold", it’s not surprising that it has a less than pleasant smell. The feces contain a lot of active bacteria that generate by-products including gases and compounds that cause foul odors. If your stool smells worse than it usually does, the most probable culprit would be something you ate recently. There’s really no cause for alarm unless your stool smells vile on a regular basis – in that case, you may actually have an underlying medical condition that you should have your doctor check it as soon as possible.

4. What If the Passing of the Waste Hurts?

Passing stool shouldn’t usually be painful except when you have constipation. If you regularly experience bleeding and discomfort such as sharp pains in your abdomen or rectum when you defecate, this should be a cause for concern. Consult your doctor immediately as you might already have anal fissures or hemorrhoids.

5. Does a Colon Need a Good Flushing?

Considering the answer to "how much waste can the intestines hold", you may want to have a colon flushing. In spite of its popularity, colon cleansing is actually one of the worst things that can affect your health. For one, it’s a waste of time, money, and resources – and this will be the least of your problems. Studies have shown that when you cleanse your colon, you’re not actually washing away toxins and impacted fecal matter. Instead, you only get rid of electrolytes and over a thousand species of beneficial bacteria that play a part in digestion, water and vitamin absorption, and fiber fermentation. You also expose yourself to risks of blood infections, dehydration, rectal perforations, loss of rectal muscle control, and air emboli.

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