How long ago was your last poop? And what did it look like?
Did you just giggle, or blush a little? It’s okay, getting awkward about discussing our poop habits is so 2015. Now it’s totally on-trend to be open about what happens behind the bathroom door. Besides, everyone does it!
Why a healthy poop schedule is important
It’s vital to have a peek into the toilet after you go “number two.” Your poop is one of the only ways you can keep an eye on the health of your internal systems. It’s like a messenger — a smelly one, but an important one, keeping you up to date on how things are working inside your body.
If you’re not pooping properly, it could be a sign of many different issues. For example, you could have low stomach acid, dysbiosis, leaky gut or even a parasite. If things are moving through the system too slow or too fast, your risk for a number of chronic health conditions could be increased, including inflammatory, neurological and autoimmune diseases. A Japanese study even found that regulating bowel movement frequency could have a role in preventing cancer.
Since unhealthy poop is a sign of digestive issues, you could also be missing out on many of the nutrients from the healthy food you put so much effort into buying and cooking. If you’re not absorbing the maximum amount of goodness through effective digestion and elimination, that’s pretty much the same as flushing money down the toilet. Yikes!
Clearly, it’s important to get on track with regular pooping — but how can we tell if there’s a problem in the first place?
Is your poop schedule abnormal?
You might be wondering whether your particular turd timetable gets the thumbs-up, or whether it’s needing improvement.
Experts say anything between three to 21 bowel movements per week is within the “normal” range. But the number isn’t necessarily the most important thing — it’s more the process and the shape, color or texture that could indicate issues. Meaning, if you have trouble pooping, experience pain, have to strain or don’t feel fully “cleaned out” afterward, that’s a problem.
Similarly, if your poop is an unusual color, is particularly smelly, contains undigested food or other visible abnormalities or isn’t within the middle zone of the Bristol Stool Chart, you may need to make some adjustments.
The tips we’ve put together below will help support not only a balanced bathroom schedule but also healthier poops and a better experience overall. Remember, your excrement is an important sign of your overall health, so it’s worth putting some effort into.
How to fix your poop schedule naturally
You’ll be happy to hear there are plenty of things you can do, starting today, that will help you optimize your poop schedule.
1. Eat more prebiotic foods
Probiotics used to be all the rage, but have you heard of prebiotics? Scientists now know that it’s just as important to eat these foods which help feed the good bacteria in your gut, to encourage their proliferation. Prebiotics to make sure you have in your diet include leek, asparagus, onion and plantain.
2. Take (or eat) your probiotics
Despite the progression of science, it’s still vital to consume probiotic foods regularly, as has been done through history by traditional cultures. Try adding kombucha, kefir or homemade sauerkraut to your diet.
3. Drink lemon water
While hydration is vital for healthy poop patterns, lemon water kicks it up a notch by firing up digestion and detoxification. Drink a big glass in the morning when you wake up and you might find any number two issues are a thing of the past.
4. Consume more bitter things
Traditionally our diets contained many more bitter foods than they do now. The bitter flavor helps stimulate digestion and detox, so try incorporating more foods like dandelion greens, ginger and radicchio into your diet, or take an herbal “bitters” blend.
5. Maintain a steady routine
Have you ever noticed how your bathroom habits can go “on hiatus” when you’re traveling or on holiday? Maintaining a stable daily routine more consciously can help your poop schedule stay healthy whenever possible. Try planning out a morning and evening routine that predictably opens and closes your day.
6. Express your emotions
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, holding onto grudges or grievances can prevent the proper functioning of the large intestine and stop up the works. Take time to express yourself in a healthy way and feel lighter, figuratively and maybe literally, too.
7. Move your body
Be sure to get moving for at least 30 minutes each day. A UK study involving over 20,000 people found that vigorous exercise was positively associated with more frequent bowel movements. Using a standing desk can also help prevent too much sitting which can aggravate constipation.
8. Use your mind-body connection
Detoxifying yoga poses and relaxing breathwork can kick in the “rest and digest” system (the parasympathetic nervous system) and help move things through your system with more ease. Try taking a few deep breaths to relax when you’re on the toilet, and incorporate more twisting poses into your yoga practice.
9. Eat more good fats
Consuming more fat will help nourish and lubricate your tissues and ensure that you’re pooping properly. Avocados, wild-caught salmon and coconut oil are all good sources.
10. Up your magnesium intake
11. Reduce allergenic foods
If you’re experiencing diarrhea or constipation, it’s possible that you’re eating something that your body can’t tolerate. Some of the most common culprits are gluten, dairy and soy. Try an elimination diet or see your health practitioner to investigate any possible hidden allergies.
12. Use bodywork
Acupressure or massage may help with more regular pooping. You can try the “Sea of Energy” point, two finger widths below the belly button, or the “Center of Power” point, halfway between the belly button and solar plexus. Press no more than an inch deep and apply pressure for 30 second periods.
13. Eat more veggies
Eat at least seven servings of vegetables per day to pack in the fiber and ensure your digestive system is working smoothly. Shifting your diet in a healthier direction can also help “crowd out” those allergenic foods that may be upsetting your poop schedule.
14. Change your posture
If you’re sitting all day, or even worse, slouching, your pooping could be impacted. Try sitting with better posture or use a standing desk for part of your workday.
Start working your way through this list of pro-pooping habits, and you’ll be going like a champ in no time.
— Liivi Hess