Let's talk about poop. Ideally, you’ll have one to three bowel movements a day.
People look at me funny when I say that. “I’m lucky if I have one a day,” they sometimes reply. “Usually it’s more like two or three a week. Oh yeah, and that stampede to the restroom after girls’ night out at our favorite Mexican restaurant.”
So let’s clear up a few things. You should never have to run to the bathroom. When you move your bowels less than once a day, you’re constipated. When you strain, create tiny poops, or have a poop that stops halfway through, you’re not having poops to be proud of.
Poop reveals more than you might think. An oily residue or slick slides means you aren't absorbing dietary fat well. If you have rabbit pellets or you're straining, you need to step up your fiber intake. Floating poops could be from excessive gas produced by an overgrowth of bad intestinal bacteria.
Besides, when you don't eliminate properly, you can become bloated, fat, and feel miserable.
Let’s fix those issues with these five strategies so you have optimal daily poops:
1. Increase your fiber intake.
"Dietary fiber intake can obviously increase stool frequency in patients with constipation," one meta-analysis concluded. When you work your way up to 50 grams — yes, 50 — of fiber daily, you usually eliminate constipation and other bathroom miseries. Do this incrementally, 5 grams at a time, and drink more water accordingly until you’ve hit that magic number. My high-fiber faves include avocado, legumes, and slow-roasted nuts and seeds. If meeting that quota from food becomes a challenge, look for a professionally formulated fiber-blend powder supplement.
2. Try this get-moving fruit.
Prunes aren’t just your grandmother’s favorite food; they are a fabulous high-fiber fruit that blasts constipation. Throw two or three into your protein shake and things will almost certainly get moving down there.
3. Drink more water.
Studies show that even mild dehydration can contribute to constipation. Sufficient water can make your poops softer and easier to eliminate. If filtered water first thing in the morning doesn’t do the job, have some hot coffee or peppermint tea.
4. Use supplements smartly.
Studies show diets low in magnesium (along with inadequate water) contribute to constipation. This fab mineral works hand-in-hand with vitamin C for optimal movement. Start with 300 milligrams of magnesium and 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C and work your way up to 1 and 5 grams (respectively). If your poop gets runny, back off a bit. Iron and calcium are constipating, so if you are taking either of these, you may need some supplements to offset those effects.
5. Burst to move.
One study found patients diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) who exercised regularly reported significantly improved symptoms of constipation. High-intensity interval training and weight resistance become efficient, effective exercise to blast fat and alleviate constipation, but even 30 minutes of vigorous walking can help get things moving.
When people do all these things and still struggle, I recommend herbal blends like cascara sagrada, senna, Chinese rhubarb, and frangula. Only use these for a few days, since dependence could irritate the gastrointestinal lining and create chronic issues.
Constipation and other bathroom problems could also be symptoms of more serious problems like thyroid imbalances. If you’re doing all these things and nothing happens “down there,” please visit your doctor or integrative specialist.
If you’ve ever struggled with constipation or other bathroom issues, what remedy “got things moving” for you? Share your strategy below.
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