Updated: May 27, 2020
Happy day-after-Valentines Day! Now let's talk about 💩
Before we dive into the serious matter of making sure that your GI tract is healthy in order to perform a normal bodily function, let's insert a dad joke about BMs and get the giggles about 💩 out of the way first. Here's my dad's personal fave:
"It's a 💩-y job but someone's gotta do it"
Alright, alright. Dad jokes aside, this is a really serious matter. Most people struggle with some form of constipation or diarrhea on the daily. Seriously. And, statistically, you're probably one of those people. It's such a common occurrence that most of us think not going to the bathroom is normal. Let me make this clear: just because it's common, doesn't mean it's normal.
It's common for people in the U.S. to experience constipation, but it's not a normal thing to happen on the daily. From 2006 to 2011, the number of emergency room visits for constipation related issues increased by 41%. This equates to an annual national cost of $1,622,624,341 per year. Holy 💩. Our bodies aren't hard-wired to hold on to waste. We want to get that 💩 OUT.
First of all... how often SHOULD you be going?!
It's funny, because if you google "how often should I have a bowel movement", the standard answer you get is "anywhere between 3 times per day to 3 times per week". (?!??)
Of course, there isn't an exact number for how often you should go to the bathroom, but 3 times per week?! That means every other day! This may be "common", but remember, that does NOT make it "normal" for the body. A number of studies will quote this 3/3 rule for BMs as "normal" for "healthy" people. But my question is - what are they considering healthy? Are those people stressed? Are they sleeping regularly? What type of food are they eating?
Plus, this study (from what I could find) only had the criteria of using adults age 20 or older. Considering 55% of Americans are taking a prescription medication (many of which can have an effect on your BM quality and quantity), I'm not so sure this is a valid estimation of what the body SHOULD be doing.
Although I can't tell you an exact number of times you should be going to the bathroom - I can in great confidence say that if you aren't going to the bathroom everyday, then you'll definitely want to take a look at the Action Steps below.
What happens if you don't go regularly?
Not going to the bathroom is uncomfortable and can lead to some problems... but I'm more concerned about WHY you aren't able to go and what you are consistently doing/not doing that is causing your body to decrease a natural function in the first place. The constipation is a symptom. We have to address the cause.
ALSO - relying on laxatives/non-food sources of fiber is NOT the answer. These are bandaids. And since you're an #AENpeeps, you want the SOLUTION, not a bandaid.
Today's strategies are honing in on the "not-able-to-go" factor. These are strategies addressing 7 of the most common causes of constipation that I see with clients/friends/family members on a daily basis.
#1: Eat less often.
Howwww does this have anything to do with your BMs?! The answer is wrapped all around this fun science-y term called the Migrating Motor Complex or MMC. Get the deets with this video: