“Garbage in garbage out”
Before we get started on this not-so-flowery topic, let me say up front that I love poop. I love how clean and light I feel after my daily bowel movement (BM). I love talking to people about their poop. I love explaining how poop is an indicator of and essential for good health. If you are not someone who loves poop, I apologize in advance for my enthusiasm and hope you’ll stick with me anyway, because this is really important.
You see, despite what your doctor, other healthcare practitioner, or well-meaning person in your life may say, it is not healthy to have a bowel movement less than once each day. Notice I’m not saying that it’s not “normal” to have a BM every two, three or more days; I’m saying it’s not healthy.
Your body has four ways to get rid of something that it doesn’t need: poop, pee, sweat and breath. These four elimination pathways give your body all the means necessary to remove toxins from itself. Being specific, bowel movements are the pathway by which your body eliminates:
- Undigested food material, including fiber and any other nutrient to which you have an intolerance
- Intestinal cells after they have done their week of duty and then are sloughed off
- Remnants of dead bacteria that lived in the digestive tract
- Fat soluble toxins that are detoxified by the liver and then released into the intestine via bile
When you don’t poop, this waste material sits in your colon. Take a second to think about that. What would your house be like if you only took out the garbage once a week? Or would you even consider not brushing your teeth every day? Ick!
The story is actually worse than just being “dirty”. When the waste sits in your colon, it can affect the gut bugs living there and/or be absorbed back into the body, both of which can have all sorts of negative consequences. For example, your body gets rid of about 20% of excess estrogen by sending it into your intestines via bile. If you don’t poop it out relatively quickly, the bacteria can liberate the estrogen from its transporter and the estrogen can be absorbed back into the body. This reabsorption can contribute to estrogen dominance and all its associated issues like irregular menstrual periods, fibrocystic breasts and mood swings.
In addition, research has linked infrequent bowel movements and long-term constipation to many conditions such as urinary tract infections, urinary and fecal incontinence, diverticulitis, rectal prolapse, hemorrhoids, anal fissures and colorectal cancer. Some studies have even shown that chronic constipation increases the risk of Parkinson’s disease and death in the elderly. As well, not pooping every day has been linked to stunted growth and bed-wetting in children. Finally, and perhaps of more immediate importance for most of us, irregular and infrequent bowel movements reduce our quality of life, physically and mentally. See, science confirms I’m not the only person who enjoys a good poop!
If you aren’t pooping every day, there’s good news: simple changes to your diet and lifestyle can drastically improve your regularity. Here are my top suggestions to get your internal cleaning mechanisms moving every day:
- Be sure to get enough fiber and water.
- Figure out if you have a food sensitivity that causes your constipation. Hint: dairy is a very common one.
- Be sure you are getting enough magnesium and vitamin C, both of which have been shown to help a person’s regularity.
- Consume healthy fat on a regular basis as this is the dietary trigger for your liver to release bile into the intestine. (Not only does bile carry out toxins, it also helps with fat digestion.)
- Build a habit around pooping at the same time every day, preferably first thing in the morning before eating anything.
- Change your position on the toilet by leaning forward or raising your feet slightly. A Squatty Potty can come in handy.
- Get moving! Exercise of any kind helps our intestine muscles work efficiently and effectively.
- Consider taking a probiotic to increase your helpful gut bugs.
- If you have to go to the bathroom, then go! Not pooping when you need to can cause pelvic floor dysfunction and prevent you from being able to go on a regular basis.
Now you know why bowel movements are so essential and why having one every day is crucial to your health and well-being. If you aren’t pooping at least once each day, I hope you’ll follow my suggestions and turn your body into a lean, mean pooping machine!
 Sun SX, DiBonaventura M, Purayidathil FW, et al. Impact of chronic constipation on health-related quality of life, work productivity, and healthcare resource use: an analysis of the National Health and Wellness Survey
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