Let’s Talk About Bowel Movements!
Face it, problems with poop is never an easy subject to bring up, even to your healthcare provider. But good bowel movements are such an integral part of a healthy life, it should be the most natural thing in the world. If you are a silent sufferer of chronic constipation, diarrhea, or other bowel-related issues, this article is for you!
Can you talk about bowel movements with your Acupuncturist? Absolutely! In fact, it is one of the fundamental questions we are trained to ask. Bowel movements not only can tell you about the state of your intestinal health, but it can also reflect issues with your stomach, liver, gall bladder, overall metabolism, dietary habits, and even more serious disorders like certain parasitic infections and cancer. So what type of bowel movement reflects good health in a person?
There are three basic criteria which can help you identify if you are having good BMs
1. Time of day
Are your bowel movements regular? If you are an avid fan of the Big Bang Theory on TV, Sheldon's bathroom schedule certainly tells a lot about his positive intestinal health! Our bodies, if we treat them right, love patterns and schedules. We have a natural circadian rhythm that tells us when we should sleep, eat, and produce certain hormones. If you are keeping to a regular schedule of good eating habits and exercise, then ideally your bowel movements should be fairly predictable as well.
How many times a day should we be having a bowel movement? Once or twice a day is probably the golden standard. If your bowel movements are not daily, even if it is consistently every other day, in my opinion, you are still constipated!
The reason is that we eat a certain amount of food every day. And our bodies should be able to adequately process and digest the food we are eating, take the nutrients, and eliminate the waste, all in a timely manner. So if you do not go daily, even though your bowel movements do not feel forced, dry, or painful, you may still be constipated in the sense that your digestive functions are not efficiently processing the foods you are eating. The longer waste products sit in your intestinal tract, the more bacteria accumulate, and the more toxic the byproducts of bacterial interaction with those waste products can gather in your body.
If you are having multiple bowel movements each day (three or more), that is not necessarily good either. It could be caused by eating too much food, or it could be related to irritable bowels, or other intestinal related issues.
The Goldilocks rule applies here. Not too firm, not too soft, just right!
If you feel that your bowel movements deviate from these three criteria, it is definitely time to speak to a healthcare practitioner on how you can improve upon your bowel movements. Sometimes it is as simple as changing your water intake or adding a dietary or probiotic supplement. Acupuncture and herbal medicine can also be very helpful in regulating your bowel movements. So don't be shy! Talk about your bowel movements with your healthcare provider and take control of your gut health!