Potty Talk: Steps to Better Bowels
We need to talk about poop. It’s something we all do, but unfortunately it’s a taboo topic of conversation among many adults (though not so much with kids)!
The health of our bowels is not something we tend to focus on when it comes to our overall health and wellness. It’s such an uncomfortable topic that people shy away from bringing it up even to their doctors, or expressing concern when it’s off.
In this article you’ll learn why poop matters, and how you can establish some better bowel movements. Plus you’ll learn about one specific food that you must eat to keep your bowels in their best shape. You may even find yourself doing the happy potty dance.
The Importance of Healthy Pooping Habits
Bowel movements are simply a way for the body to get rid of waste it doesn’t need. When you have a bowel movement, things like bacteria, food waste, mucus, and undigested foods are eliminated. The body will also eliminate bilirubin in stool, which is a substance that comes from the breakdown of wastes from both the liver and bone marrow. These are all things the body must eliminate, which is why everyone has to go regularly. Our bodies cannot get rid of these toxins any other way.
Steps to Healthy Pooping
We know that having a bowel movement daily is important, but it’s not always that simple. Many people suffer from constipation, while others may deal with chronic diarrhea where they go to the bathroom too much; neither situation is healthy.
Let’s take a look at some steps to promote healthier bowel habits.
#1 Support Gut Health
Supporting overall gut health can help regulate bowel habits. You can support a healthier gut environment by enjoying a healthy amount of probiotic-rich foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, kombucha, and full-fat unsweetened coconut milk yogurt. Supplementing with a high-quality probiotic can also be helpful, especially if you aren’t getting enough of these foods in your diet. Restoring the beneficial bacteria in your gut is a key part of having more regular and healthy poop habits.
Our bodies weren’t designed to be sedentary, and a sedentary lifestyle can definitely cause poor bowel habits. You can help support the natural movement of your intestines by moving your body more. Try to get some cardio into your exercise routine, and then some gentler forms of exercise that will help nourish the body through stretching and relaxation such as yoga and Pilates. Even a brisk walk for 10-20 minutes a day is a great starting point if you have never exercised before! Time to dust off your sneakers and lace ‘em up!
#3 Eat Enough Fiber
Fiber can add bulk to the stool which can help you go to the bathroom more often. You will want to start out slowly to prevent bulking up your stool too much, and risk causing constipation. Start by slowly adding fiber-rich foods into your diet by enjoying things like berries, nuts, seeds, and vegetables. Gluten-free grains like rolled oats and quinoa are also great. Another thing to keep in mind about fiber is that fiber can be either soluble or insoluble. Soluble fiber can be especially helpful, as it can help soften your stool and make it easier to go. Soluble fiber is found in nuts, seeds, beans, and lentils.
Insoluble fiber can also add bulk to your stool and may help you move your bowels more quickly. You can find insoluble fiber in many vegetables and whole grains. The problem with insoluble fiber is that it may make things worse for those with digestive health issues like IBS, so be mindful of that if you find that foods rich in insoluble fiber don’t work well for you.
#4 Drink Your Water
Hydration plays a key part in preventing constipation and helping support more regular bowel movements. Drinking more water when adding more fiber to your diet is also important as fiber is adds bulk to your stool, and you need extra hydration to help make it easier to actually move the waste through your body. If you suffer from constipation, upping your water intake make be a total game changer. Aim for 8 - 10 cups of water as a baseline for your water consumption and adjust according to your activity level, body weight, where you live, and lifestyle habits.
#5 Reduce Stress
Stress can lead to just about any health complication, and constipation is one of them. It’s hard to go to the bathroom when you are super tense and stressed out, so try to practice some form of stress reduction each day. Try practicing mindfulness, conscious breathing, yoga, or even just reading a good book to help calm your mind and body to help promote better bowel habits.
#6 Try to Go to the Bathroom at the Same Time Each Day
Our bodies love schedules and regularity (no pun intended). Having a regular bowel movement routine can help promote regularity. If you try to go to the bathroom around the same time each day, you can help get yourself into a routine and train your body to go on a more regular basis. For some, this may be easier after a meal, and others may do better during a low-stress time of the day. That being said, eat your meals, wake up, and go to bed at the same times each day as well. This will help set the internal clock better so you can “go” on time each day. See what works best for you and make it a regular habit to make sure you are properly eliminating, daily.
#7 Watch out For Sugar Alcohols
Sugar alcohols like sorbitol, mannitol, and xylitol can all be super irritating to the gut and can make for really uncomfortable bowel movements. Be sure to read the back of every food label and stay away from anything that ends in “ol.” Skip the sugar free options when buying your dessert treats and added flavors for your coffee and tea drinks. Sugar alcohol lurks in most processed foods.
#8 Olive Oil
Healthy fats, in general, can help improve bowel habits and make it easier to move stool through your intestines. Olive oil may be especially helpful in moving stool through the gut as it acts as a lubricant. Not only that, it can also help soften stool which is great for anyone who suffers from constipation. Drizzle olive oil on your salads or dishes for added healthy fats and better bathroom visits.
The Bottom Line (seriously, no pun intended)
Regular, daily bowel movements are an important part of supporting health. Being chronically constipated, or having frequent diarrhea are two things that can impact your overall health and quality of life. So, if you aren’t going to the bathroom daily, or you’re going too often, try implementing these healthy bowel tips. Having regular bowel movements depends on making healthy food choices and incorporating healthy lifestyle habits, so make these a priority. Exercise regularly, drink water often, eat more fiber-filled foods, incorporate healthy fats in your food choices, and keep a consistent schedule for waking, eating, and sleeping. The more regular your bowel movements become, the better your overall health will be.