A phantom faeces. An elusive excretion. Whatever you want to call it, ghost poops – bowel movements that either don’t leave a trace on the toilet paper or aren’t visible in the toilet bowl at all – can be a baffling experience.
Recently, TikTok creator Janine Bowring shared her insights into the confounding experience. “If you have this type of poop, you may just be the healthiest person on the planet,” the TV personality and naturopathic doctor began her video.
“It is the ghost poop – the kind of poop where you look in the toilet, you’re like, ‘I’m sure I pooped,’ but it’s gone,” she said.
Gastroenterologist and Men’s Health columnist Dr Sameer Islam agrees, saying he would “celebrate” if he had this type of bowel movement.
So, here’s why ghost poops can spell such good news for your gut – and when it might be cause for consideration.
Let us turn to our good friend, the Bristol stool chart
You probably already know that different poos look and feel different. A quick peek at the Bristol stool chart shows that smooth, soft, sausage-like bowel movements are a positive sign your diet and gut are working as a great team.
These are the types of faeces most likely to cause the ghost poop phenomenon, Bowring says in her video. In this instance, the poo sinks to the bottom of the toilet so you can’t actually see it.
Whether you notice an invisible excretion or face a pristine sheet of toilet paper after wiping, Bowring claims “it’s because you’ve got that fibre, you’ve got enough of those essential fatty acids, [and] your circadian rhythms are in tune with nature.”
Dr Islam adds that a poop you can’t spot in the toilet bowl could just mean you’ve had a “magical” healthy defecation session, or that the bowel movement could be smaller than usual. “Not a big deal,” he says.
Here’s when you might want to rethink your diet
This happens when you’ve got too much air in your gut, which “innervates or activates the nerves inside your colon [and rectum] and gives you that urge to have a bowel habit,” the doctor shared.
The NHS says that this “can be caused when you swallow air or eat foods that are difficult to digest.” Culprits include fatty foods, smoking, overeating and drinking through straws.
Sometimes, too much gas can be a sign of a health condition. But if your gassier days clearly stem from swallowing too much air or going heavy on the snacks, there might be less of a cause for concern.
And if your ghost poops take the form of either of the other two types, then congrats – your guts are likely in great nick.