Often people shy away from wanting to talk about faeces, as it isn’t really the most pleasant or appetising thing to think about. However, moving your bowels is a very important bodily function so it is important to understand what is normal and what isn’t.
Approximately 1.9 litres of food and liquids pass through your digestive system every day. It can stay within your bowels for days, while your body absorbs water and salts and as the water is absorbed the digested food solidifies, where it turns into faeces. Many people have misconceptions when it comes to their bowel health, overusing laxatives because they believe that toxins will accumulate in their body if they don’t have a daily bowel movement. The truth is that the frequency of bowel movements will vary between individuals and can be anywhere from three times per day to three times per week.
So without any strict guidelines to go by, how do you know if your bowel health is normal? Basically, if you are passing soft but solid stools without strain, pain or cramps you can consider yourself normal and regular. Other than that, here are some important things that you should know about your bowel health:
Don’t worry too much if you occasionally have a bout of constipation
, which is when your digestive system slows down. It is quite common and it usually affects 10% of the population at any given time. Most of the time it is a change in lifestyle
which is affecting your body. When your digestive system’s natural rhythm is affected this will slow down the movement of the stool through the colon. This causes more water to be absorbed than normal, which causes your stools to become dry and hard. This will make the waste more difficult to expel from the body.
Most of the time diet is a common cause of occasional constipation, so make sure that you are eating lots of fibre. The fibre will encourage your digestive system to get back in a good rhythm because the fibre absorbs water which causes the stool to swell in the bowel. This stimulates the contractions which push the stool along.
Dehydration can also be the cause, so be sure to drink plenty of water. You can also add to the problem when you ignore the urge to go because you are too busy or uncomfortable moving your bowels at work, at someone else’s house or in public.
Exercise will also help to maintain regular bowel movements. Going for a walk or a swim at least four times per week will help you to manage any problems that you might have with constipation.
If changing your diet, exercising and drinking more water doesn’t help, you might be in need of nutritional supplements, over the counter laxatives or fibre supplements. There are also a few natural remedies you can try, such as taking a tablespoon of olive oil twice per day, or drinking hot tea with honey and molasses.
If you have been self treating for a while and you still haven’t seen any improvement in your constipation, you can contact your private clinics such as Blossoms Healthcare or your doctor for help. A long term bout of constipation might be a symptom of a disease or a condition so your doctor might want to test you for any of these health problems.
Remember that what is normal varies from person to person and your digestive system is unique and behaves in its own way. Rather than worrying about going No.2 a certain number of times per week, simply be in tune with your body and pay attention to its habits to understand your bowel health.
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