How often should I poo? And what should it look like?
By Don Pearson, Technical Director, LiveBrew Ltd.
Poos. We all do it and almost no one talks about.
Bowel movements are a fact of life. They allow you to empty residues from your diet and excretions from your gut. While all people have bowel movements, the frequency varies a lot.
Reports on the “normal” range of frequency varies from 3 times a day to 3 times a week. The consistency of a person’s stool can often be a more significant indicator of bowel health than frequency alone. However, if a person doesn’t poop often enough or too frequently, both can cause or be indicative of health problems.
The following is an excerpt from https://www.healthline.com/health/how-many-times-should-you-poop-a-day
“According to a survey of more than 2,000 participants that Healthline conducted, respondents reported the following bowel patterns:
Almost 50 percent of people poop once a day. Another 28 percent report going twice a day. Only 5.6 percent reported going only once or twice weekly.
Most respondents (61.3 percent) reported their average bowel movement was in the morning. Another 22 percent reported going in the afternoon while only 2.6 percent poop very late at night.
Nearly 31 percent of respondents reported their poop consistency was similar to that of a sausage or snake, of a smooth and soft consistency.”
The 5 main factors that influence frequency and consistency.
Fibre is King! Fruit, vegetables and whole grains give bulk to the stool as well as nourishing the host (you) and the good gut microbes. Diets lower in fibre often lead to lower pooping frequency
Hydration is Queen! If you’re chronically dehydrated you are more likely to be constipated.
As we age, we are more likely to suffer periods of constipation. This is due mainly to reduced gastric movement that encourages digestion, reduced mobility, and taking more medications that may slow bowel movements.
3. Activity level
The wavelike contractions that push what we eat through the gut are called “peristalsis”. Physical activity, such as walking or engaging in other forms of exercise assist the body to keep the gut contents moving along. Increasing activity usually increases frequency of bowel movements, conversely decreasing activity is likely to reduce them.
4. Chronic or acute illness
Most chronic illnesses are associated in some way with the gut. Inflammatory bowel diseases (which include Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis), can cause diarrhoea, followed by periods of constipation.
Acute illnesses, such as viral gastroenteritis (stomach flu) or pain medicines can cause changes to bowel movement patterns.
Fresh active probiotics have been shown to help regulate frequency of bowel motion and consistency of the stool.
If your bowel motions are very frequent and watery this can cause nutrition problems. Your gut cannot absorb nutrients the body needs as the food is passing through too quickly.
If stools are too hard, they can be very difficult to pass. They may cause difficulties like straining, which can lead to haemorrhoids and cause stool to back up in your intestines causing bloating and reflux.
If you have persistent symptoms of poor bowel health, you should see a doctor.