A single day in practice does not go by without me asking a patient the question that will always make them squirm or turn red, “How often do you have a bowel movement and what does it look like?” Most people have no clue how to answer. Either that or they say its normal… I go once or twice a week. Newsflash, if you poop only twice a week, then there’s a problem!
Bowel movements are not just the leftovers of what your body wasn’t able to digest. The body will absorb what it needs from your food from the digestive tract, but it also dumps out the stuff it’s trying to get rid of that has been processed by the liver. If you don’t go for a few days, you are likely to feel sluggish and not function at your peak.
How often should I have a bowel movement?
Most people use once a day as a general rule of thumb, but if you think about the functionally, it should be more frequently. Think of your digestive tract like a long tube. What goes in must come out. If you eat several times a day, it is healthy to eliminate what you’ve put in. The physical act of eating actually stimulates the gastrocolic reflex, which is movement within the intestine.
When you gotta go, you gotta go
When you do have the urge to go, it’s important that you listen. When material moves into your rectum, it signals your brain with an urge to pass a bowel movement. If you don’t go, the urge will actually go away as body retracts that stool back into the colon where it sits and collects more water. That means all the toxins that your body was trying to eliminate sit in your bowel longer and leave you more vulnerable to actually reabsorbing them.
What should an ideal bowel movement look?
An ideal BM should be medium brown, soft, formed and look similar to an S-shape in the bowl. You should be able to pass a formed piece a few inches long and it should pass easily without any discomfort or foul odour. It should enter the bowl without any loud dropping sounds and neither sink nor entirely float.
Your stools tell you a lot about how well your body is digesting food. Next time, take a look and get used to paying attention to how your body functions.