It may not be the most…... pleasant topic to discuss, but paying attention to your stool is way more important than you think. Your bowel movements are an indication of your digestive health. The texture, shape and color of your stool can signal issues like infection, indigestion, and other serious health problems.
How To Identify If Your Stool Is Healthy?
Healthy stool is typically a soft, formed bowel movement that is usually brownish in color. You should have at least two to four bowel movements a day. Ideally, every time you eat - you have a bowel movement afterwards (eliminating the previously digested meal) as well as first thing in the morning after waking up and having some water.
Normal poop is generally:
Passed Twice to Four Times Daily: Most people pass stool once a day. Although it's perfectly normal to go 3-4 times.. You should be passing stool at least twice daily every day.
Medium To Dark Brown In Color: Your stool contains a brown pigment called bilirubin, which forms when red blood cells break down.
Pain-free To Pass: A healthy bowel movement requires minimal strain.
Consistent In Its Characteristics: A healthy stool varies from one person to another. However, you should be cautious to monitor any changes in the frequency, firmness, smell and color of the stool. These indicate that there could be a problem.
How Important Is Hydration?
Poor hydration can make bowel symptoms so much worse. Every part of your body requires water in order to function. Therefore, having an insufficient level of fluid in your body can significantly affect your bowel health.
- Dehydration can often lead to:
- Bowel Incontinence
- Bladder irritation and concentrated urine
- Increased Risk Of UTI
Tips For Maintaining Healthy Bowel Movements:
Add More Fiber To Your Diet
The importance of fibre can simply not be stressed enough. Foods rich in fibre keep food waste moving along your digestive tract, which decreases your risk for diverticular disease and helps your intestines stay squeaky clean. It's essential that you eat an adequate amount (at least 25-40g) of fiber everyday. This can be found in foods like whole-wheat pasta, celery, peas, broccoli, beans, prunes, bananas and raspberries. Other fiber-rich whole grains include whole-wheat breakfast cereals and brown rice. Here's a comprehensive list of fibre rich foods.
Eat Pre- And Pro-biotic Foods
Pre-biotics are found in berries, chickpeas, bananas, leeks, lentils, kale, spinach, garlic, onions, tomatoes, asparagus, etc. Pro-biotics include kombucha, sauerkraut, kefir, yoghurt and sourdough breads.
Consume More Vitamin D
A steady intake of Vitamin D is extremely helpful when trying to maintain healthy bowel movements. It also helps prevent colon cancer. You can get Vitamin D from a range of sources including the sun (even 15 minutes of daily exposure is enough). It is also found in foods like cereal, milk, fatty fish, bread, etc. If your diet does not supply enough Vitamin D, you can take a supplement to make up for it.
Hydration, Hydration, Hydration
As mentioned before, dehydration has fire consequences for the bowel. It can lead to a buildup of toxins in the body. As those toxins accumulate, the risk for bloating, gas, constipation, fatigue and IBS increases. If you want to keep your colon healthy - try to drink at least 7-8 eight-ounce glasses of water per day.
If you're trying to maintain healthy bowel movements - the importance of exercise can not be overlooked. Increased physical activity increases circulation and blood flow in your body. Consequently, your colon (and entire gastrointestinal system) receives more oxygen. This promotes healthy bowel movements and helps ward off colon cancer, as well as other diseases. You don't have to follow a very demanding fitness routine. Even 10-15 minutes or walking per day is sufficient!