You can’t talk about optimal health without discussing poop. Regular elimination is a crucial part of this process, while diarrhea or constipation can indicate underlying digestive issues. Your poop reveals more than you might think. If you have an oily residue or slick slides, you're not absorbing fat well. If you have rabbit pellets or you’re straining, you don’t have enough fiber.
You need to have one to three bowel movements a day. They shouldn’t be urgent and you shouldn’t have to run to the bathroom every time you eat, but you should be having them. If you’re having trouble, try implementing these five strategies to help get things moving and optimize your pooping.
1. Drink enough water.
2. Meet your fiber quota.
Fiber is your golden ticket for staying regular. I've found that when you work your way up to 50 grams of fiber daily, you can kiss constipation and other bathroom miseries goodbye. Don’t do this all at once! Add five grams (the amount of fiber in a large apple) incrementally until you reach your goal, and drink more water as you do so. Prunes are a great high-fiber food; throwing a few into your smoothie all but guarantee you get things moving down there.
3. Get moving with supplements.
These include vitamin C (start with one gram and increase as needed up to five grams) and magnesium (start with 300 milligrams and increase as needed up to 1,000 milligrams). If your poops become runny, back off the supplements a bit. Iron and calcium can be constipating, so if you're taking either of these, you may need some supplements to offset those effects. I take vitamin C and magnesium at night to get things moving in the morning.
4. Get enough exercise.
High-intensity interval training and weight resistance are both efficient, effective exercise, but even 30 minutes’ vigorous walking can help get things moving.
5. Bring out the big guns.
If none of these strategies work, try magnesium citrate or herbs like cascara sagrada, senna, Chinese rhubarb and/or frangula on a short-term basis. In my experience, these are also great to carry if you happen to get constipated while traveling. Only use them for a few days, as they may irritate the gastrointestinal lining with chronic use.
Constipation and other bathroom problems can be a symptom of a more serious problem like thyroid imbalances. If you’re doing all these things and nothing is happening, please visit your doctor as it could signify an underlying problem.
If you’ve struggled with constipation or other bathroom problems, what was your needle mover to get things moving again? Share your strategy below.