What ARE those things in your poops that look like sesame seeds, even though you don’t eat sesame seeds?!
Are they parasites or some other sign of a serious disease?
There are several explanations for the particles in your bowel movements that look like sesame seeds.
“Sometimes people don’t think about the prevalence of seeds in foods, including the fruits and vegetables they eat, which can sometimes have the appearance of sesame seeds in their stool,” says Benjamin Levy, MD, board certified gastroenterologist who’s provided clinical care to patients at Mount Sinai Hospital, Schwab Rehabilitation Hospital, and Sinai Medical Group Touhy Refugee Clinic.
“Seeds can be very healthy, but they are hard to digest and often go all the way through the GI tract unchanged,” continues Dr. Levy.
“For example, multigrain breads and certain crackers contain seeds that may look like sesame seeds in the stool.” Ask yourself if you normally eat these kinds of foods.
“Chia, hemp and flax seeds have become popular ingredients to give smoothies and other foods a nutritional boost, but they too are not easily digestible and may look like sesame seeds even after they’ve passed through your GI tract.
“Tomato seeds, bell pepper seeds, jalapeno seeds and watermelon seeds can easily be swallowed, and they sometimes have the appearance of sesame seeds after passing through your system.”
And don’t forget about sunflower seeds which can be found in prepared salads and also nutrition bars.
But what if you swear on your life that your diet is void of any kind of seed?
“In addition to the wide variety of seeds, partially undigested fiber from vegetables such as bell peppers, cauliflower and beans can also have the appearance of sesame seeds in a normal stool,” explains Dr. Levy.
Do not get alarmed.
“This may be alarming, but keep in mind one reason vegetables are healthy is because of the indigestible fiber.
“As this type of fibrous material passes through your colon, it cleans off carcinogens and chemical byproducts along the inside surface of the colon.
“Essentially, think of eating vegetables and fruits as a broom that sweeps them away, so eating fiber may help prevent colon cancer.”
Other Causes of Seed Looking Things in One’s Poops
Dr. Levy explains, “Beyond the foods you eat, patients with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) can experience changes in the consistency and density of their stool.
“Occasionally, these patients have stool that breaks into tiny pieces that can even have the appearance of sesame seeds.
“Some medications can also look like sesame seeds after the outer capsule dissolves in the GI tract.
“A common example is mesalamine (an anti-inflammatory medication used in the treatment of ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease that works by coating the colon mucosa with tiny dots).”
Worms in Your Poops May Look Like Seeds
You certainly didn’t want to read that, but it’s only fair to include this unsettling information.
Dr. Levy says that “small parasites can also look like sesame seeds. If someone is experiencing anal itching, it could be pinworms since male pinworms are about 2 – 5 mm in size and have a seed-like look.
“Tapeworms and roundworms sometimes look like mung bean sprouts or large sesame seeds.
“Patients who have recently traveled internationally, have gone swimming in lake, or who have ingested untreated water in nature should definitely be checked for parasites if these seed-like particles persist.
“A gastroenterologist will likely order stool studies called ova and parasites for the microbiology lab to analyze and to determine whether a parasitic infection is responsible.”
With all that said, there is good news about the things in your poops that look like sesame or some other kind of seed.
And it is this: You can scratch colon cancer off the list of possible causes.
Dr. Levy’s research and clinical projects have focused on health care disparities, GERD, the early detection of pancreatic cancer and the development of colon cancer screening campaigns.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.