Bathroom habits (or more specifically, toilet habits!) is not a subject that many people like to talk about.. However, the amount of times you visit the toilet each day, what happens when you visit the toilet and what you deposit into the toilet are all valuable clues to your overall health. What I'm going to delve into now is bowel motions...
When it comes to poo... What is normal?
Passing a stool once per day is usually considered normal but normal can also be twice per day. As long as that is a consistent pattern. What is not normal is going every few days or so. In saying that, it is normal if, on occasion, bowel motion frequency changes due to what a person has eaten or done in the previous couple of days as well as where a woman is in her menstrual cycle.
What we also need to talk about is the consistency of your stool. Do yourself a favour here and do a google search on the "Bristol Stool Chart." This is a chart of stool consistencies ranging from type 1 which looks like small pellets to type 7 which is entirely liquid. Both of these extremes are not normal. What is normal is type 3 to type 4. A stool like this indicates adequate hydration, fibre intake and good digestion.
The importance of a normal bowel motion.
There are a number of elimination pathways that our bodies use to remove waste which include bowel motions as well as urination, breathing and through the skin. If a person is not effectively eliminating waste from the body, toxins can build up and contribute to the development of a number of conditions. When a person is constipated, toxins within a stool may actually be reabsorbed back into the body. If a person has regular diarrhoea, this means the transit time from eating to elimination is sped up and does not allow the body enough time to absorb adequate amounts of nutrients from their food which can lead to nutrient deficiencies as well as dehydration.
Constipation is irregular bowel motions that are difficult to pass. Stools often look like type 1-2 on the Bristol Stool Chart.
It's often a joke within families that one family member will take something to read to the toilet with them to pass some time while they're there. Is this normal? Well it might be common but I wouldn't call it normal. Are they taking a long time because they're finding it hard to pass a stool or because there is a lot of clean up? Ideally, passing a stool should be a relatively quick and easy event which requires minimal straining and minimal clean up afterwards. Straining puts pressure on the lining of the colon and rectum which can lead to anal fissures and haemorrhoids. Another important thing to note here is a messy poo (aka, takes a lot of wiping)... If a stool like this leaves skid marks in the toilet, just think about what the lining of your colon must look like. Leaving skid marks in your colon can also mean that the remaining waste, which is meant to be eliminated from the body, may be reabsorbed back into the body.
There are primary causes which directly cause constipation and secondary causes of which constipation may be a side effect of something else like some medications or other health issues such as hypothyroidism. Mostly commonly, the primary causes of constipation are inadequate water intake and in