When you go to a pediatrician, one of the first things he or she asks is a question about the child's bowel movements. But as soon as we hit teenage years, talking about poop suddenly becomes a taboo. Well, love it or not, you wouldn't be alive without expelling the leftover waste and toxins that your body doesn’t need. Moreover, the size, shape, frequency and color of your bowel movements can tell you a lot about your health and can even signal serious disease like infections, digestive problems and even cancer.
Now, I will not go into details how the "perfect" stool should look like (like a torpedo in case you really wanted to know), this information can be found here.
I will rather discuss one of the most reported problems at doctor’s visits every year - constipation.
When Can We Talk About Constipation?
Most experts agree that it’s important to go to the bathroom at least three or more times per week at a minimum. Any less than this indicates that you are constipated. In fact, many people in our western society experience ongoing chronic constipation. Constipation can be accompanied by other digestive symptoms like gas, abdominal pain or stomach bloating. Straining is not normal during a bowel movement, nor is experiencing feelings of incomplete elimination, bloating, crampiness.
Natural Remedies for Constipation
Squatting: In many places and even sometimes in France you can notice so called squat toilets. Your body is designed to eliminate while squatting, while modern-day toilets put your body in an unnatural position. Sitting on a modern toilet is designed to place your knees at a 90-degree angle to your abdomen while squatting places your knees much closer to your torso.
Nutrition: one of the simplest solutions how to have healthy bowel movements is swapping the foods that lack fiber (cheese, refined carbohydrates, hydrogenated oils) for much healthier, whole foods such as leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, beans, squashes, berries, apples and pears, figs and dates, chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds and various other nuts and seeds. You should get between 25–40 grams of fiber per day. If your digestion is very weak, always remember to soak and sprout your nuts and beans.
Some helpful aids:
Psyllium husk, a type of soluble fiber is used as a gentle, bulk-forming laxative.
Aloe vera juice helps reduce inflammation and improve the frequency of bowel movements.
Rhubarb has a laxative effect as well.
Hydration is the key when it comes to health in general, so remember to drink enough water.
Probiotics: use supplements with as many different strains as possible and always choose a supplement with at least 10 billions colony forming units (CFUs).
Magnesium: As the majority of people is magnesium deficient, choose a good magnesium supplement with good absorption.
Exercise is crucial if you want to have healthy bowel movements, even if it's just a short walk, move!
Herbal Remedies and Essential Oils
Peppermint tea: drink a cup after every meal.
Peppermint essential oil contains antispasmodic properties, which can relax the muscles in the digestive tract, making the bowels looser. This can help relieve constipation.