Welcome back to poop talk with your friends at Holy Crap! Today we’re talking about poop and regularity. We’ll discuss what’s considered normal, or “regular”, and how this regularity affects our mood and overall health. While poop might be a taboo subject for some people to talk about, there’s a lot we can learn from it.
So, let’s dive in...
Everyone poops in some way, shape or form, but what do we really mean when we talk about a regularity? Many of us think that the gold standard is pooping around the same time every day. While some people take pride in this being their normal, it isn’t the same for everyone. Some people may have bowel movements multiple times a day, while others can go days without it.
Clinically, it’s considered normal to have up to 3 poops a day, to as little as three a week. But don’t be alarmed if you go more or less than that, what’s regular for you should be considered “your normal”! #MyBowelsMyNormal
Though, one red flag that you shouldn’t ignore is a change in the number of bowel movements, especially if it lasts more than two weeks.
If you’re pooping a lot more than normal, we’re talking multiple more poops a day, it could be affecting your health. When you poop often, it’s typically because food is moving through you quicker than Usain Bolt. In extreme cases, this can lead to nutrient malabsorption. Which is a fancy way of saying that your food is moving through you so quickly, that you’re unable to digest it enough to get the nutrients from it. Over time, not getting enough nutrients can lead to deficiencies, which are closely linked with our physical and mental health. Not to mention, diarrhea usually stems from inflammation in the gut, which is less than ideal.
On the flip side, not pooping enough can affect our physical wellbeing and our mood too. Science has shown that people with constipation are more likely to be diagnosed with mood and anxiety problems. In fact, constipated people were 14x more likely to be diagnosed with anxiety or depression, sheesh! To make matters worse, constipation can put you at risk of reabsorbing toxins that should have been excreted (via poops), which can affect more than your mental health.
On a happier note, many people report feelings of happiness and relief after a number two! We like to call this the “joy of pooping.” This euphoric relief can be tracked back to the vagus nerve, which houses a long set of nerves that start in the brain and connect all the way down to the colon. The vagus nerve essentially creates a two-way street of communication from the brain to the gut. When it’s stimulated, as it is during a poop, the vagus nerve can lower a person’s blood pressure and heart rate, which leaves us feeling relaxed and with a sense of “poo-phoria”.
One last piece of evidence, the gut microbiota. Believe it or not, your gut is home to trillions of microorganisms, like bacteria, yeasts, microbes and fungi. These make up the “gut microbiota” and dictate the health of our gut. Most of the body’s serotonin – known as the happy hormone – is produced in the gut in our microbiota. So, when your gut feels a type of way, it makes sense that your mood could follow suit. Like we say here at Holy Crap – healthy gut, happy mind!
Drink more water
By now, you hopefully already know that humans require water for survival. Water is especially important for the gastrointestinal tract, which uses about 10L of fluids per day. So, if you’re looking to keep things regular, keep up with your water goals! Aim to drink between six to eight cups a day.
If your bowels are slowing you down, try adding in some exercise to speed things up! Low-impact exercise and stretching can help you pass gas and mobilize your gastrointestinal tract. And actually, a lack of exercise can actually put you at greater risk of constipation.
Stress can affect your poops in a big way. Think about the way your stomach feels before a big test or presentation. We all have unavoidable stress in our lives, but when it’s excessive, it can lead to bigger digestive problems. Try to set aside time to do things for yourself – like eating good food, moving your body, getting enough sleep, and participating in calming activities that you enjoy – like going for a walk, reading a good book or doing yoga.
Eat more fiber
Adding fiber is one of the best ways to get things moving, it is known to help you poop more frequently and consistently - and who doesn’t love an “on-schedule” poop? For adults, the recommended daily fiber intake is at least 20 to 25g.
Shameless plug, but if you’re looking to up your fiber intake, you’re on the right website! Try Holy Crap cereal, loaded with superseeds like chia, buckwheat and hemp hearts, and providing over 7g of plant-based fiber in only two tablespoons.
Talk to your doctor
Don’t ignore any red flags when it comes to your poops. If you’re having different bowel movements, pay attention to them. If your bowels are off, consider tracking your poops and diet in a poop diary. This can help your doctor make recommendations and get to the problem quicker.