Sponsored By The Laura Moore Cunningham Foundation

Body Waste: Top 10 Questions

February 2010

Thanks to Dr. Naya Antink, Pediatrician, Saint Alphonsus Medical Group; and Dr. Heather Owens, Pediatrician, Saint Alphonsus Medical Group for the answers.

1: What is the hardest food to digest?

There is no one food that is difficult to digest. There are foods you digest partially and foods you digest completely. If you digest a food particle completely, then all of the nutrients get absorbed into your body. If there is something your body cannot digest, it gets pooped out. (From Cameron in Mrs. Schweitzer's class at Riverside Elementary School in Boise)

2: Why do some feces float?

Most of the time feces float because there is a fat content. If you eat a lot of fatty foods, the grease does not digest completely and it comes out with the poop. This helps the feces float in the water. (From Caleb in Mrs. Boehne's class at McDonald Elementary School in Moscow)

3: Why do farts stink?

Not all farts stink. Farts are gas that comes out of the rectum. The gas usually consists of oxygen that we've swallowed and the oxygen in the intestine does not stink. The bad smell from farts can come from certain foods that we eat that contain sulfides, or it can be from the good bacteria in our intestines. When these bacteria process certain types of sugar, like those in beans, it creates gas that smells. Some farts stink and some don't, but they are all normal. (From Conner in Mrs. Woodall's class at Dalton Elementary School in Dalton)

4: Why do we get pimples and pus?

Usually, pimples are a collection of oil. There may be bacteria growing on the skin, and that bacteria feeds off your oils and makes a little bit of its own waste as more oil and a pus-like substance. Your body will wall this pus off and hold onto it for a bit, forming a pimple. (From Danielle in Mrs. Batazzi's class at Sawtooth Elementary School in Meridian)

5: Why does sweat taste salty?

Sweat tastes salty because there is quite a bit of salt in sweat. There is salt floating around in your bloodstream and when you sweat, this salt and water solution moves through the ducts and out through the pores on your skin. (From Bailey in Mrs. Woodall's class at Dalton Elementary School in Dalton)

6: What happens when you are constipated?

Constipation is when the poop is hard and painful. When you have a stomach bug, food and water can fly through your intestines, making your poop really watery. When you are constipated, it's the opposite. Food stays in your body for too long. It then gets dryer and dryer, and it gets harder and harder, making it hard to poop out. This is constipation. (From Rich in Mrs. Mantooth's class at Riverside Elementary School in Boise)

7: Why are our muscles sore after working out?

Your muscle cells create waste products even from just walking around. Sometimes we get overloaded with those chemicals that are broken down out of our muscle proteins, and those can cause our blood vessels to be a little twitchy and make us feel more sore than usual. They are natural chemicals that are made on a daily basis, but when you work out you produce them in larger quantities. These quantities can be somewhat irritating and can cause sensations of pain or soreness. (From Tyler in Ms. Ewing's class at Les Bois Junior High School in Boise)

8: What causes blackheads, how can you get rid of them, and why are they always on your nose?

The blackhead is the collection of dead skin cells and oils that our body makes (it is the start of the acne process). The little cave that is created can get plugged up. When bacteria comes and feeds off of that, it may create a little reaction (like a little infection). This gets red around it and it can go from being just a blackhead to pus-filled. The craters are everywhere on your body, but there are more of them on your nose. That's why we tend to get more blackheads on our noses. (From Pat in Mrs. Bate's class at Windsor Elementary School in Spokane)

9: How small is the hole that sweat comes out of?

It's a micro. You'd have to look at it under the microscope to look at each little sweat gland and follicle. They are microscopic. (From Jackson in Mrs. Mantooth's class at Riverside Elementary School in Boise)

10: What color should your poop be?

Poop is usually brown. That's because our liver has to get rid of by-products that have a certain pigment, or color, to them. That color, when passed through our intestines, is brown. If foods move through your system at a faster pace, like when you have diarrhea, your poop may be absent of the brown color and look green. This is nothing tremendous. It just tells you that things are moving quickly. Normal poop, however, is brown. (From many students all over the state)

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