Daily Habits For Healthy Bowel Movements

what to take daily for regular bowel movements

Constipation is a common condition affecting up to 20% of adults worldwide, with symptoms including infrequent bowel movements, hard faeces, and frequent straining to pass stools. To maintain regular bowel movements, it is important to eat high-fibre foods, drink plenty of water, and exercise regularly. In addition, trying to have a bowel movement at the same time each day can be beneficial. For those seeking supplements to aid constipation, magnesium, fibre, probiotics, and senna are all recommended. However, it is important to consult a doctor before taking any supplements, as they may interact with certain medications and lead to adverse effects.

Characteristics Values
Diet High-fiber foods, including whole grains, beans, vegetables, and fruits. Prunes, bran cereal, and kiwifruit are also recommended.
Drinks Plenty of water, at least 8 glasses per day. Coffee and tea may also help.
Exercise Regular physical activity, including low-intensity exercises like walking.
Toilet posture Raising the knees above the hips, such as by using a footstool, can aid in passing stool.
Medication Over-the-counter laxatives, fiber supplements, osmotic agents, and stool softeners.
Supplements Magnesium, probiotics, and prebiotics.

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Drink more water

Drinking water is a simple yet effective way to ease constipation and promote regular bowel movements. Water is essential for digestion, and staying well-hydrated can be a key part of your plan to get things moving again.

The large intestine's main function is to absorb water from waste liquid and turn it into a solid waste called stool. Dehydration can cause the colon to absorb too much water, resulting in hard and dry stools that are challenging to pass. Drinking adequate amounts of water helps prevent this by keeping the stool soft and easy to pass. It also ensures the intestines remain smooth and flexible, aiding the passage of stool.

The recommended daily fluid intake varies by source but generally falls between 8 and 15.5 cups for women and 13 and 15.5 cups for men. It's important to note that this includes fluids from food, as fruits and vegetables contain plenty of water. Along with water, vegetable juices, clear soups, and herbal teas are good sources of fluids. It is best to avoid alcohol and limit caffeinated drinks, as these can have a diuretic effect, leading to dehydration.

While drinking water is a simple strategy, it may not be enough on its own to relieve constipation. Combining increased water intake with a high-fibre diet is essential for promoting normal bowel function. Fibre adds bulk to the stool, making it softer and easier to pass. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure adequate fibre intake, typically 20 to 35 grams daily for adults, through sources such as whole grains, beans, vegetables, and fruits.

In summary, drinking plenty of water and staying hydrated are crucial steps in promoting regular bowel movements. However, it should be paired with other strategies, such as a high-fibre diet and regular physical activity, to effectively manage constipation and maintain bowel health.

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Eat more fibre

Fibre is an essential part of a healthy diet and can help with regular bowel movements. Fibre helps to move food through the digestive system, and it is recommended that adults get 20 to 35 grams of fibre per day. The best sources of fibre include whole grains, such as cereals, breads, and brown rice, as well as beans, vegetables, and fresh or dried fruits. Prunes and bran cereal are also effective natural laxatives.

Insoluble fibre supplements, such as wheat bran, stimulate the mucous membrane of the colon, helping to soften stools and speed up their transit through the colon. On the other hand, soluble fibre, such as psyllium, retains water and improves stool consistency. Psyllium is the main ingredient in the fibre supplement Metamucil and has been shown to increase both the water content of stools and bowel movement frequency in adults with constipation. Other fibre supplements that can help treat constipation include inulin and glucomannan.

It is important to note that increasing your fibre intake should be done gradually to avoid any digestive issues. Additionally, drinking plenty of water is crucial when consuming more fibre, as it helps to move the fibre through the digestive system.

While fibre is a great way to promote regular bowel movements, it is not the only factor. Staying hydrated, exercising regularly, and maintaining a consistent bathroom routine are also important for healthy bowel habits.

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Try coffee

Coffee is a well-known home remedy for constipation, with 29% of coffee drinkers reporting a desire to poop after drinking coffee. It stimulates the colon and can cause bowel movements in as little as four minutes. It's important to note that while coffee can help with bowel movements, it should not be the only thing you rely on to stay regular. A good bowel regimen also includes a diet with plenty of fiber, regular exercise, and drinking enough fluids every day.

How Coffee Works

Coffee contains acids that boost levels of the hormone gastrin, which stimulates involuntary muscle contractions in your stomach and gets your bowels moving. This is called peristalsis, and it moves food and liquid through the intestines. The gastrocolic reflex is more active in the morning, which is why a morning cup of coffee is more likely to make you poop than if you drink it at other times of the day.

Caffeine and Decaf

Caffeinated and decaf coffee both cause your stomach to release gastrin, although the effect is less with decaf. Caffeine and acids in coffee affect other parts of your digestive system, and it's likely that other substances in coffee affect digestion and bowel movements in ways that are not yet fully understood.

Coffee's Compounds

Coffee contains compounds called melanoidins, which are formed during the roasting process and have dietary fiber, helping with digestion and preventing constipation.

Coffee and Hormones

Coffee also appears to stimulate the release of the hormone cholecystokinin, which plays a key role in the digestive process. It may also affect the release of gastric acid (or stomach acid), which helps to digest food and may encourage colonic activity.

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Exercise regularly

Exercise is an important part of maintaining regular bowel movements. It is one of the most effective lifestyle changes you can make to help loosen your bowels and keep yourself regular. The abdominal wall muscles and diaphragm play a crucial role in the process of defecation, and exercise helps to strengthen these muscles.

There are several factors that come into play when you exercise that promote regular bowel movements:

Increased Blood Flow

Interval-type cardiovascular training increases blood flow, which results in stronger contractions through the digestive tract. This helps to decrease the transit time of food passing through the intestine.

Mechanical Assistance

Movements such as running, skipping, and jumping create mechanical assistance to aid bowel movements.

Neurological Stimulation

Exercises that increase your breathing rate and heart rate will stimulate the muscles and nerves in the mucosal lining of your intestines. This activates the squeezing of your intestinal muscles, improving efficiency and decreasing waste transit time.

High- and moderate-intensity interval training, such as VIITS, HIITs, and MetCon, are recommended. Activities that involve running, jogging, jumping rope, and dancing are also beneficial.

Yoga is another great way to get your bowels moving and relieve constipation. Certain poses massage the digestive tract and help move stool through your intestines, particularly those that involve sustained twisting of the torso or crunching of the stomach muscles.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all adults get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week. If possible, try to do 30 minutes a day at least five times a week.

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Adjust toilet posture

Adjusting your posture while sitting on the toilet can help you have a more comfortable and effective bowel movement. Here are some tips to adjust your toilet posture:

Use a Footstool

Using a footstool, also known as a defecation posture modification device (DPMD), can help you achieve a squatting position while sitting on a Western-style toilet. Place your feet flat on the stool in front of you so that your knees are tilted upward and your legs are spread and raised above your hips. This posture relaxes the pelvic floor muscles and straightens the anorectal angle, allowing for easier passage of stool. Research has shown that using a footstool reduces straining and shortens bowel movement duration.

Lean Forward

Leaning forward while sitting on the toilet can also facilitate bowel movements. Place your elbows and forearms on your thighs and lean forward. This position helps recreate a squatting posture, keeping the rectum aligned with the anus and allowing for easier bowel evacuation. If you struggle to breathe in this position, consider installing a grab bar next to the toilet to help you stay "braced" and secure.

Sit with Hips Flexed

Sitting with your hips flexed at a 60-degree angle or more can also aid in bowel movements. This position helps to reduce abdominal strain and make it easier to pass stool. It is a good alternative for those who cannot or do not want to adopt a full squatting position.

Relax

It is important to keep your stomach and rectum as relaxed as possible during a bowel movement. This helps to encourage the stool to pass through more easily. Avoid holding your breath and straining, as this can lead to hemorrhoids and muscle incoordination. Instead, focus on slow and deep breathing. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth.

Develop a Routine

Try to develop a routine by going to the toilet at the same time each day, preferably after breakfast or lunch when your bowels are most active. Training your body to have a regular schedule can help improve your bowel movements.

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Frequently asked questions

There are several natural ways to help with constipation. These include:

- Drinking plenty of water

- Eating more fibre-rich foods

- Getting regular exercise

- Training yourself to have a bowel movement at the same time each day

- Adjusting your toilet posture

- Drinking coffee

- Taking probiotics or prebiotics

Over-the-counter treatments for constipation include:

- Laxatives (stimulant, osmotic, or stool softeners)

- Fibre supplements

- Lubricant laxatives

- Suppositories

- Enemas

If over-the-counter treatments are ineffective, your doctor may prescribe medication such as:

- Lubiprostone

- Linaclotide

- Plecanatide

- Prucalopride

- PAMORAs

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