Or at least improving your poops. If you feel your bowel movements could use some improvement, keep reading for some tips.
Here are some common problems and their solutions:
- Dehydration. Not enough water results in small, raisin-y poops that are hard to pass. The solution is simple: Drink more water! You’ll know you’re hydrated when your pee is pale yellow to almost colorless.
- Stress. Acute stress tends to speed up the time it takes for food to be fully digested and eliminated, resulting in loose stools. Meanwhile, chronic stress may lead to constipation. The solution: Try doing 10 deep belly breaths, or even a lying-down guided meditation. If you hear your belly start to gurgle, that’s a good sign.
- A low-carb diet or a diet high in processed foods. These diets tend to be low in fiber, which adds to stool bulk and makes them easier to pass. The solution: Plants! If you’re low-carb, you might already be eating non-starchy vegetables which are rich in insoluble fiber. But you need soluble fiber, too. Consider adding more starchy vegetables, grains, and legumes to your diet.
- A sedentary lifestyle. The muscle contractions that move food—and eventually waste—through your digestive tract are largely involuntary. But if you’re inactive, you compromise circulation that helps keep the digestive system active. The solution: If you’re backed up, try taking a 20 minute walk, or if you’re up for it, even a run. Not only does this have an overall relaxing effect on the body and mind, but it also encourages gastric emptying and motility, aiding both digestion and elimination.
- Medications. Meds like antibiotics or painkillers can affect how quickly food moves through the digestive tract. The solution: If you’re taking meds, it’s likely under the advice of a doctor, so don’t stop them without your doctor’s permission. If bowel side effects are getting to be too uncomfortable, though, consult your doc for advice.
- Medical conditions. IBS, Crohn’s disease, colitis, food allergies / intolerances, and other conditions are associated with irregular movement or inflammation in the intestines and bowels, which can affect poop health. The solution: Discuss these with your doctor or a licensed dietitian for help. Specific dietary modifications can help tremendously.