It has been well established that one of the important functions of the large intestine is to dehydrate the food residues received from the small bowel in preparation for elimination by the act of defecation. Burnett1 has made this the basis of a test for what he calls intestinal indigestion and has suggested that the ability to form a hard stool made up of numerous smaller parts called fecal units indicates that the large intestine is in excellent condition; cases were described in which the shape of the stool was changed by dietary means from a "soft and formless" type to a "unit basis" with concomitant improvement of health. He also reported on the rate of passage of food residues through the alimentary tract, his method being to study the time required for practically all of a 50 cc. quantity of millet seed to be eliminated. As a result
COWGILL GR, ANDERSON WE, SULLIVAN AJ. THE FORM OF THE STOOL AS A CRITERION OF LAXATION. JAMA. 1933;101(4):273–275. doi:10.1001/jama.1933.02740290021009
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