E R N I E ' S H O U S E O F W H O O P A S S
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EVERYTHING YOU HAVE EVER WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT SHIT
What is shit made of?
About 3/4 of your average turd is made of water. Of course, this
value is highly variable - the water content of diarrhea is much
higher, and the amount of water in shit that has been retained
(voluntarily or otherwise) is lower. Water is absorbed out of fecal
material as it passes through the intestine, so the longer a turd
resides inside before emerging, the drier it will be. Of the
remaining portion of the turd, about 1/3 is composed of dead
bacteria. These microcorpses come from the ntestinal garden of
microorganisms that assist us in the digestion of our food. Another
1/3 of the turd mass is made of stuff that we find indigestible, like
cellulose, for instance. This indigestible material is
called "fiber," and is useful in getting the turd to move along
through the intestine, perhaps because it provides traction. The
remaining portion of the turd is a mixture of fats such as
cholesterol, inorganic salts like phosphates, live bacteria, dead
cells and mucus from the lining of the intestine, and protein.
credit given to original author if known
Why does shit stink?
shit stinks as a result of the products of bacterial action. Bacteria
produce smelly, sulfur-rich organic compounds such as indole,
skatole, and mercaptans, and the inorganic gas hydrogen sulfide.
These are the same compounds that give farts their odor.
Why is shit brown?
The color comes mainly from bilirubin, a pigment that arises from the
breakdown of red blood cells in the liver and bone marrow. The actual
metabolic pathway of bilirubin and its byproducts in the body is very
complicated, so we will simply say that a lot of it ends up in the
intestine, where it is further modified by bacterial action. But the
color itself comes from iron. Iron in hemoglobin in red blood cells
gives blood its red color, and iron in the waste product bilirubi
gives rise to its brown color.
What other colors of shit are possible?
shit is mostly shades of brown or yellow, but other colors can arise
under certain circumstances. For example, someone with a bleeding
ulcer might have tarry black shit from the presence of partially
digested blood. Bleeding in the intestine, from an anal fissure or
split, for example, can stain the shit red. Some illnesses in babies
give them green or even blue-green shit. But another source of blue
shit in children is more innocent: it can come from eating a
concentrated source of blue food coloring such as ice cream. Intense
red food coloring can produce bright red shit. Sometimes brightly
colored foods pass through the gut almost unchanged, and the turd may
be speckled with bright red fragments such as pimentos, or bright
yellow kernels of corn. One can experience white shit after consuming
a barium milkshake for the purposes of getting an x-ray of the upper
Why do dogs eat shit?
Many animals eat shit on a regular basis. These include rabbits,
rodents, gorillas, many insects such as dung beetles and flies, and
yes, dogs. (Keep that in mind the next time a dog wants to lick you!)
Herbivores such as rabbits and rodents eat their own shit because
their diet of plants is hard to digest efficiently, and they have to
make two passes at it to get everything out of the meal. This is
equivalent to a cow chewing its cud; only cows are able to re-eat
their food without having to shit it out first. Another reason why
animals eat shit is that shit contains vitamins produced by their
intestinal bacteria. The animal is unable to absorb the vitamins
through the intestinal wall, but can get at them by eating the shit.
Another reason that animals such as dogs eat shit is that shit
contains a certain amount of protein. Dogs are particularly fond of
cat shit because cat shit is high in protein. I had a friend with a
dog and a cat, and he never had to clean the kitty litter. The dog
took care of it.
Are there people who eat shit?
Yes, we all have, at one point or another. One of the main ways that
diseases and parasites spread is through the consumption of food and
water contaminated with feces. This happens because people don't wash
their hands carefully after shiting or changing a diaper or
scratching their butt. It can also happen through careless disposal
of diapers. Our microbiologist here on Guam says that one dirty
diaper in Tumon Bay can send the bacteria count through the ceiling.
But of course, what you want to know is, are there people who eat
shit on purpose? Again, the answer is yes. Some autistic children
practice coprophagy, the ingestion of feces. Coprophagy is also
listed as an unusual sexual practice in the encyclopedia of that
name. I have known only one person who ate shit on purpose, and she
only did it once, when she was about four years old. She says she was
curious about what it tasted like. When asked what shit does taste
like, she replies, "About like you'd expect." By the way, for all of
you who are wondering, the author of this page does NOT eat shit.
Can you get sick from eating shit?
Yes, you can definitely get sick from eating shit, even in minute
quantities! Although urine emerges sterile from the body (unless the
person has an infection), shit emerges loaded with bacteria and
sometimes other life forms. Many diseases, including food poisoning,
cholera and typhus, are spread by fecal contamination. Many
parasites, such as the notorious tapeworm, can be spread through
deliberate or accidental ingestion of shit. There are some parasites,
such as pinworms, which depend on people eating their own shit to
keep the population up. Pinworms are small nematodes that live in the
colon. The females emerge from the anus at night to lay their eggs.
Their activity makes the anal area itch. The person scratches the
itch (often doing so in his sleep), procuring a small amount of fecal
matter and eggs under his fingernails, and then puts his fingers in
his mouth. Once the eggs are consumed, the person is infected with a
new generation of pinworms. I have read that almost everyone has
pinworms. Luckily, pinworms don't do much harm. You only notice them
if you have a lot of pinworms! If you want to find out if you do
indeed have them, get someone to gently touch around your anal area
with Scotch tape while you are sleeping. The worms will stick to the
tape and you'll be able to see them.
Do most people wipe their leftover shit standing up or while sitting
on the pot, and are there gender differences?
This isn't really scientific, but I did a quick survey, and everyone
asked (including both males and females) said that they wipe sitting
down. There was even a reason provided: that sitting down spreads the
cheeks apart and makes access easier. This survey was done on Guam,
and Guam is technically part of the United States, and most people
here probably use American toilet habits. However, if you travel a
bit, you will discover that people deal with leftover shit in
different ways in other parts of the world. In Europe, for example,
that water fountain in the bathroom isn't for drinking. It's a bidet
for hosing off after using the toilet. In Southeast Asia, you don't
sit on the toilet at all. The toilet is a low, porcelain-lined
trench, and the user squats over it. Next to the toilet is a bin of
water. You scoop water out of the bin with your left hand and use
that to cleanse yourself. You aren't supposed to use your left hand
for any other purpose.
How come when you eat corn, no matter how much you chew it, you shit
it out in whole kernels? Corn shit is one of the greatest mysteries
in life. I grew up pondering the same question. This is what I think
is happening: When we chew corn, the outer coating slips off the
inner kernel. This outer yellow coating is almost entirely cellulose,
and is indigestible. It passes through the gut untouched, and
emerges looking like a whole kernel, although it is mostly just the
outer skin. The inside of the kernel is starchy and digestible, and
that is the part that we succeed in chewing up.
Is there any way to prevent corn from getting in your shit?
I know of only one way - don't eat corn!
How does shit stay together, like in links?
In humans, soft shit is really one long, mostly continuous sausage
before it comes out. It gets its "link" look because we tend to pinch
off lengths of it with the anal sphincter as the shit emerges. If a
person pinches hard enough, the shit separates into several turd
units. If the person doesn't pinch that hard, the turds may stay
connected. If you can remain sufficiently relaxed, you can produce an
awesomely long shit that will coil up inside the toilet.
Why does some shit float?
Floaters are turds that have an unusually high gas content. Sometimes
the gases produced by bacteria in our gut don't have a chance to
collect into a large fart bubble, but remain dispersed in the feces.
The shit then comes out foamy, and has a lower density than water.
What causes the burning sensation sometimes associated with shit?
This is generally caused by a recent meal of hot peppers or related
spices. The oils associated with these foods remain intact and active
all the way through one's gastrointestinal system. These oils can
also generate hot farts.
Why does some shit hurt when it comes out?
Turds can get very large and dry if a person is constipated, causing
painful stretching of the anal opening. shiting can also hurt if the
person has hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids are engorged veins in the anal
area. A doctor once described them to me as "varicose veins of the
anus," which suggests that the valves in the veins that are supposed
to keep the blood flowing in the right direction have gotten messed
up. shiting can also be painful if the person suffers from an anal
fissure, a tear in the tissue of the rectum.