Marika’s Top 5 Tips to Keep Regular
Not the topic everyone wants to talk about, but certainly an important topic! The regularity of your bowels is important and can not only affect the functioning and health of your gut but also can seriously affect your mood.
Before we dive in, let’s discuss what exactly is normal when it comes to bowel function? (err yeah just a fancy way of saying how many times should you poop?).
Guess what? This is where we need to break down some expectations because normal can be anything from 3 times per day to 3 times per week. Anything within this spectrum is considered a normal number of times. What isn’t so normal though? Straining and difficulty passing your stools, feeling like you are not fully evacuating when you do open your bowels or feeling the urge to go but just not able to go.
So if that sounds like you this article is a list of are my top 5 strategies to keep things regular.
Up Your Fluid - Yeah not the fancy 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 or have a larger body weight.
Get The Right Fibre - Dietary fibre is essential for good gut health . When it comes to fibre recommendations we need to be having in the range of 25-30g fibre per day. If you aren’t getting in enough gradually increasing your fibre intake over a matter of days or even weeks, this will stop you feeling the bloat associated with a rapid increase in fibre intake. When it comes to constipation the soluble fibre found in foods like oats, lentils, legumes, chia seeds, avocado, pears, potato, sweet potato, and psyllium husk are going to be incredibly useful in helping things move along, just make sure you keep that water up too! Overnight oats with chia seeds for breakkie? Yes please!
Movement - Sedentary lifestyles lead to sedentary bowels. Exercise can actually increase 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, simply avoiding excessive sitting (sedentary time) and increasing your steps will have an impact. When was the last time you checked in with how many steps you get in each day?
Adjust your toilet posture - This is a thing. Westerns are sitting on the toilet completely wrong. In order to create an easy passage for stools to pass through we actually need to have our knees higher than our hips. Sounds a bit yogic for simply sitting on the toilet, but don’t stress, no flexibility required. Simply elevate your feet by putting a stool or even a big bag of toilet rolls under your feet will help to align your colon in a way that allows the stool to pass more easily. A simple but incredibly effective strategy. See the image below to see just how much of a difference this makes.
Try a Natural Laxative - With many of the medical laxatives or even some of the herbal laxatives your bowel can become reliant on them, this is not ideal. We want your bowel function on its own! One of the best natural laxatives are the humble old prune! Add 3-5 per day and see the difference for yourself. Note those of you with bad IBS this strategy might come with some bloating but for those who just need to get more regular I strongly suggest trying this.
Last but not least, like always, consistency is key (no not stool consistency, adherence consistency). Increasing your fibre for 3 days and then getting slack won’t help, or only increasing your fluid a few days a week isn’t going to move mountains. Make a plan, get consistent and 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 individualised plan.
If you found this useful I’d love it if you share it with your friends or family, let’s put poop chat back on the table.
Oh by the way, if you haven’t already got your hands on my FREE 7-day Gut Loving Meal Plan I strongly suggest you should. It is a simple, delicious and high fibre sample meal plan with some really yummy recipes. It’s not what you would typically think when it comes to gut loving meal plans too, you might be surprised! Check it out here.