By Reem Abdulrahman Jassim al-Muftah
Did you know that one of the best ways to gauge and analyse your health is through your bowel movement? Just to clarify for today’s article, we will be talking about your bowel movement as the action of passing stool; in more causal terms, when you ‘go to the bathroom.’ This is not a common topic to discuss and many are shy to discuss these type of matters with close family or friends, let alone in public, but I am here to tell you, it is critical to actually monitor, analyse, discuss and ask your physician for help when it comes to your bowel movement. Bowel movements are a vital sign of your bodily functions and overall health.
What is the average range of passing stool?
Well, surprisingly, there haven’t been that many studies conducted on bowel movements as other areas have been studied better, but the few that have provided results seem to state that the average for bowel movements can range from three times a day to three times a week. This seems to be quite a big range but it is due to the fact that everyone’s body is different and everyone’s lifestyle is different. In general, no studies or hard evidence show what the normal amount or optimal frequency is but there are ways for you to analyse and decide if your body’s bowel movements are at least functioning in a healthy manner or not. Most importantly, you should be able to pass stool 1. Regularly (usual timing), 2. frequently (within the ‘normal range’ mentioned above), 3. Without pain or discomfort, 4. With the optimal texture (not hard, dark, liquid or pebbled – you can find the chart online) and 5. Without feeling bloated, constipated or having diarrhea. If you answered no to any of these, then you might need to observe your habits and lifestyle to see if you can improve your results and in turn, your bowel movements before having to consult a physician.
How can you improve your bowel movements?
The answer is quite simple but you might find it hard to apply to your current lifestyle. Considering the amount of people at home due to the current pandemic, it is a great opportunity to take the time and re-regulate your digestive system and bowel movements, especially when it seems people are eating more and more as they sit more at home. Firstly, you have to make sure you are drinking enough water and liquids and getting enough electrolytes in your body on a daily basis. Secondly, you need to make sure your diet is full of fibre (more raw vegetables), try to avoid too much red meat and try to eliminate processed meats. Thirdly, you need to make sure you are physically active at least 15 minutes a day unless you are regularly and consistently training. These are the three main ways to regulate and improve your stool and movements, but there are also a few other tips. For example, make sure you are following the right posture while you are on the toilet, for example, if you cannot invest in a ‘squatty potty’ or a similar product, then try elevating your knees a bit higher; play with your posture to find your best fit. Another tip is to always find a way to make it to the bathroom when you have to go, due to personal discomfort or environmental limitations, some might pass on the urge and need to go to the bathroom and delay it, but your bowel movement should be your priority and should not be disrupted nor rushed and you should definitely not be under pressure or feel any strain.
Now is the time to train yourself to go during the morning hours and possibly late afternoon hours, potentially to align to your work schedule once we are all back to our daily office routines.
Figure out what time is best suitable and try to re-regulate to that schedule.
Doctors recommend using the bathroom 20-40 minutes after eating, especially after having your breakfast. Also, do not rely on medications, herbs, teas or laxatives that are intended to help you with regulating your movements.
Lastly, do not underestimate the effect of stress on your body, so do not forget to relax, exercise, breathe and stretch consistently.
Do not forget that everyone is different and not all our bowel movements will be similar or aligned, it all depends on our individual bodies, genes, habits and overall lifestyle and health, so do not compare yourself to others.
Also, keep in mind that medical complications, medications, hormones and age play a significant role in your movements too, so do consider these factors too.
* The author is a wellness advocate and influencer @keys2balance.
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