What your bowel movements are like is a pretty good indicator of your state of health. I remember in the first consultation I ever had with a homeopath being quite taken aback when she asked me about my poos.
What did that have to do with trying to get pregnant? A lot, it turns out.
Poo is a like barometer, it shows how well our digestive system is functioning. If it isn’t working properly it’s a sign of ill-health on some level.
A healthy digestive system means a healthier you.
I talk to all my clients about their bowel movements, but it isn’t a regular topic of conversation for obvious reasons.
We all have bowel movements though, so how do you know what’s normal?
How often should you be going?
The NHS says you should be doing a poo at least 3 times a week. If I only went 3 times a week, I would definitely be constipated.
So, it’s not so much about how often you do a poo, but how difficult it is.
The longer poo stays in the large intestine, the drier and harder it becomes. And there’s obviously more of it!
A normal bowel movement should be soft and easy to pass. Signs that you may be constipated are:
- you’re passing poo pellets – I call it sheep poo
- you have to strain
- doing a poo is painful
- you don’t have a feeling of emptiness when you leave the toilet
Causes of constipation
Most of us have occasional episodes of constipation from time to time, which can happen for a number of reasons:
Travelling: a very common cause of constipation due to changes in diet and routine.
Medicines: constipation can be a side effect of some painkillers such as codeine or morphine. Iron supplements prescribed for anaemia very often cause constipation.
There are several natural alternatives that are effective at increasing iron levels without the uncomfortable side effects – Spatone is my favourite.
Diet: not drinking enough water or eating enough fibre.
Fear that doing a poo will be painful: this can be common after childbirth or if you’ve had a general anaesthetic.
Hormones: some women find it’s harder to go at certain times of their menstrual cycle (for me that’s around ovulation).
Ignoring the urge to go: this can cause changes to how the bowel muscles work.
Here are 6 tips to avoid getting constipated:
- Include lots of fibre in your diet – fresh fruit and vegetables; wholemeal bread, pasta and rice; wholegrain cereals
- It may sound obvious, but drinking more water does help
- If you feel the urge to go, don’t resist it
- Don’t hold onto wind – find somewhere you can release it without embarrassment!
- Stay active and take regular exercise
- Consider taking probiotics
Are you sitting properly?
This is the heading of a section in a book which changed how I sit on the toilet – Gut by Giulia Enders. It’s a fascinating insight into all things poo-related.
Giulia Enders references studies showing that being in a squatting position – as opposed to sitting – reduces the average time it takes to do a poo.
This is down to the closure mechanism in our bowels – it’s not designed to open fully when we’re seated. So doing a poo is more difficult because there’s a kink in the bowel in this position.
Luckily it’s possible to squat while sitting. You can buy something for this exact purpose, but really all you need is a low stool or step to rest your feet on. The important bit: your knees need to be above your hips. Then lean your upper body forward and voilà – things should come out more easily!
Having a routine
Listening to your body is really important for healthy bowel movements. When you feel the urge to go, don’t delay. Sometimes we postpone going to the toilet because of where we are, or because we don’t have time.
It can be useful to find a routine of a place and time in the day when you’re comfortable spending time on the toilet, eg after breakfast. A warm drink with breakfast can often nudge the bowel into a regular pattern.
If you’re under pressure to get to work or do the school run, that might not be do-able. Just find a slot in your day that works for you and you know you won’t be interrupted.
Constipation isn’t a disease but it might be a symptom of a disease. If you experience any of the following, you should see your GP to get it checked out:
- Unexplained weight loss
- Blood in your poo
- Blood on the toilet paper when you wipe
- Abdominal or rectal pain
If constipation is an ongoing issue for you, it’s important to find out why. If you would like to have a chat and ask questions about how I could help you with homeopathy, you can book a free call below:
If you enjoyed this blog you may like to sign up for my email newsletter where I share useful and inspiring information: