Updated: Jun 20, 2022
If you're like most people, you probably don't think much about your bowel movements. But if you're dealing with constipation, irregularity, or any other bowel movement issues, then it's time to start paying more attention to your bathroom habits. In this blog post, we'll discuss how to have a healthy bowel movement and get yourself back on track. So whether you're struggling with constipation or just want to make sure that your movements are as healthy as they can be, keep reading for tips and advice on how to achieve regularity. Thanks for reading!
Are you familiar with the Bristol stool chart?
Some people may find it funny and awkward to talk about this, but it's a big part of our health. Our immune system resides in our gut. Making sure we're having healthy bowel movements is a simple way to make sure we're maintaining our health. It tells a lot about what's going on systemically.
According to the Bristol Stool Chart, a healthy stool is considered a soft-formed bowel movement. It should have a snake-like shape and be brownish in color. Fecal matter is made up of 75% water and 25% solid matter. It can contain anything from dead bacteria to different substances that our body hasn't been able to digest.
It takes about three days for food to pass through the GI system before resulting in a bowel movement. Depending on how the stool looks, it can give us a lot of insight on how we're digesting. If it is more formed or hard and pellet-like, it tells us that our stool has been sitting in our colon for too long. The opposite of this would be is loose and runny, which tells us that it has passed through our colon way too quickly.
Type 1 and 2 in the Bristol Stool Chart are two types of stool that are hard and lumpy. These can be painful when you pass them. As mentioned, these stools have been sitting in your large intestine for too long. They happen often in people who have chronic constipation. Several things can contribute to this, such as different food sensitivities, or irritable bowel, where you have diarrhea sometimes and constipation at other times, and so on.
Types 3 and 4 of the Bristol Stool Chart are considered to be optimal. It has a kind of snake-like shape that makes passing it easier than other stool types. It is not mushy or pellet-like in texture -- rather is it soft, yet formed.
Types 5 and 7 are where you're getting on the bottom part of the scale. These are the ones that are watery and mushy. These types of stool have spend the least amount of time in the colon.
The Bristol Stool Chart can give us a good look at what's going on in our overall health, not only with the consistency but considering the color as well. Red and black can indicate some sort of internal bleeding. A grayish hue can sometimes indicate liver impairment. Yellow color can also be more indicative of a liver condition.
Greasy, foul smelling stool could also mean that our bodies are not absorbing and breaking down fats well. We'll see this a lot of times in conditions like Celiac disease, or anytime one has a disorder with the pancreas.
How fiber can help
Once you've identified the type of stool you have according to the Bristol Stool Chart, it's important to take steps to maintain a healthy digestive system. A well-balanced diet that is high in fiber is essential for keeping your stool regular.
Food sensitivity testing is important because it helps identify any sensitivities you might have. Once you have done the food sensitivity testing, it is helpful to try an elimination-style diet, which removes inflammatory foods (including your sensitivities) from your daily food intake. This includes foods such as gluten, dairy, and sometimes even eggs, nightshades, nuts, and seeds.
This could address issues above and beyond the typical gastrointestinal symptoms. Anything from headaches, irritability, acne, and skin issues can benefit from eliminating foods that we are sensitive to. The goal is to incorporate nutrient-dense foods that are high in fiber which truly can help prevent or relieve constipation.
Movement is key
Movement is key to our overall health, yet so many of us lead sedentary lifestyles. Some of us sit at desks all day, while others lounge on the couch in front of the TV. But without regular movement, our bodies start to shut down. We become more prone to illnesses, such as heart disease and diabetes, and our mental health suffers as well. That's why it's so important to make sure we're staying active. Regular exercise helps to counter constipation and other bowel irregularities, and it also helps to improve blood circulation.
Assuming you don't want to lug around a gallon of water everywhere you go, breaking down your water intake by half your body weight in ounces is a good way to make sure you're drinking enough. Not only does being properly hydrated help manage constipation and other bowel irregularities, but it also prevents those pesky headaches, keeps your skin looking good, and helps boosts your immune system. Drinking the recommended amount of water each day can also help improve your physical performance, reduce fatigue, and improve your focus and concentration.
A colonoscopy is a medical procedure used to examine the large intestine (or colon) for signs of disease. The colon is a vital organ responsible for managing constipation and other bowel irregularities. A colonoscopy allows the doctor to evaluate the health of the colon and identify any potential problems. The procedure is generally well-tolerated and has a very low risk of complications. Regular screening is highly recommended to those anywhere between 45 and 50 years old or sometimes earlier if you have a family history.
Some more tips for constipation and other bowel irregularities
Aside from the high fiber diet and drinking more water for constipation, one other thing we can do is to not lay on our stomachs while sleeping. If you're a stomach sleeper, try to switch it to a side-lying or a supine position. It takes some getting used to but it's better for our digestion. When we sleep on our stomachs, it puts unnecessary pressure on our intestines and colon which can cause indigestion, acid reflux, and even heartburn. So, if you want to avoid all that discomfort (and who doesn't?), maybe give sleeping on your back a try.
Squatty potties have become increasingly popular in recent years, and for good reason. This simple tool can be a good way to manage constipation. By positioning the body in a squatting position, the squatty potty helps to straighten out the rectum and make it easier to pass stool. In addition, squatting helps to relax the pelvic floor muscles, making it less likely that stool will be forced back into the rectum. As a result, using a squatty potty can help to reduce the risk of constipation and other bowel problems. Whether you're looking for a natural way to relieve constipation or just want an easy way to improve your bathroom experience, a squatty potty may be worth considering.
Warm lemon water
One constipation-busting tip that works is to drink warm water with lemon first thing in the morning. Just boil a pot of water, add a few ice cubes to cool it down, then squeeze in half a lemon. Using too hot of water can interfere with the benefits of the lemon. Making this part of your daily routine will help aid regularity. Try it and see.
Prebiotics and probiotics
Whether it's a blend that you are already taking or you get your prebiotics from the food that you're eating, it's great for irregularities in bowel movements. Multi-Probiotic 40 Billion from Douglas Labs is a good choice.
Marshmallow root, ginger bitters, MCT oil, and many more
Marshmallow root is a good anti-inflammatory for the gut. The active ingredient in marshmallow root, muc