My top Tips to Keep you Regular
Not a subject everyone wants to talk about, but certainly an important topic! Not having a regular bowl regimen affects not only your digestive system, but also the body as a whole. This disrupts the functioning and health of your gut and can totally affect your mood.
Let’s discuss what exactly is normal when it comes to bowel function? How many times a day or how many days till you do have a poop?
Let’s squash the expectation that having a normal digestive system means having a daily bowel movement. This is not true for everyone. Normal could be anything from having a bowel movement a few times a day to a few times a week.
What isn’t normal is straining and having difficulty passing your stools, feeling like you are not fully “done” when you do open your bowels or feeling the urge “to go” but just not able to go.
This blog covers my top strategies to keep things regular.
1. Up Your Fluid Game - Yeah not the extravagant answer you were wanting but this simple habit is so frequently overlooked. People go for supplements and drugs before they even assess their water intake. If you are struggling with regularity make sure you are consuming at least 8 glasses or water per day, more if you are active, live in hot or humid climates (like I do—sunny south Florida) or have a larger body weight.
2. Eat Fiber - Dietary fiber is essential for good gut health. When it comes to fiber recommendations, ideally, we need to be having roughly 25-30 grams of fiber daily. If you aren’t getting in enough gradually increasing your fiber intake over a matter of days or even weeks, this will stop you feeling the bloat associated with a rapid increase in fiber intake. When it comes to constipation the fiber found in foods like oats, lentils/legumes, chia seeds, flax-seeds, pears, potato, and sweet potato (eat the skin as well) are going to be incredibly beneficial for helping things move along, just make sure you keep that water up too! Overnight oats with chia seeds for breakfast? Yes please!
3. Movement - Sedentary lifestyles lead to sedentary bowels. Exercise increases the movement along our digestive tract which will help move the contents of your bowels along too. Don’t worry you don’t need to be running marathons! Just avoid excessive sitting and increase your steps this on its own will make a difference. How many steps have you done today?
4. Stay clear of low-fiber foods. These include ice cream, potato chips, and sugary foods such as soda and candy — which can all cause constipation.
5. Try a Natural Laxative – So many options of pill forms of laxatives and herbal laxatives your bowel can become dependent on them, this is not ideal. We want your bowel to function on its own! One of the best natural laxatives are prunes! Add 3-5 per day and see the difference for yourself. If you need a little help to get more regular, I strongly suggest trying this. (Caution: those with IBS this suggestion may cause some bloating).
Finally, like always, consistency is key! Increasing your fiber for 3 days and then getting slack won’t help, or only increasing your fluid a few days a week isn’t going to make you move. Plan and be consistent! You will see consistency in your bowels. If you don’t, it might be worthwhile checking in with a dietitian (like myself) to assess what else could be going on for you and helping you with an individualized plan.
If you found this useful, I’d love it if you would share it with your friends or family.
By: Carol Aguirre MS, RD/LDN