Are your bowel movements normal and healthy?

Are your bowel movements normal and healthy?

What is a regular bowel movement?  There are multiple things to look at when considering what is “regular.”  To most people, regularity is gauged by the number of bowel movements they have.  A normal, healthy number is anywhere from three times a week to three times a day.  Beyond the number of movements, however, it’s important to understand what a healthy stool looks like and what a healthy bowel movement feels like.

A healthy bowel movement happens easily.  There shouldn’t be pain leading up to the movement and there should be no strain or pushing when sitting on the toilet.  Excessive pain or discomfort can be indicative of intestinal problems.

Once the stool passes, its color and texture can tell a lot about its regularity.

Black stools can be indicative of internal bleeding and should be checked out by a physician.  However, medicine containing bismuth or iron supplements can also cause a black color in stools.

While black might mean internal bleeding, red can mean that there is bleeding further down the intestinal tract, but it also commonly occurs due to artificial dyes in food and drink.

Green poop can look concerning but it might be a result of eating healthy, leafy green vegetables.  Certain vitamins, or food coloring, can also cause a green hue in stools.

Pale stools could be due to a bile or liver issue, but can also be caused by medicines that contain bismuth.

Constipation occurs when stools are hard to pass and hard in texture.  This can be caused by too little fiber or too much dairy.  On the other end of the spectrum, stools that pass too quickly and are loose or watery are considered diarrhea and can be caused by many conditions or habits such as irritable bowel syndrome, food aversions, excessive alcohol, or bacterial or viral infections.

A healthy diet and lifestyle can help maintain a healthy colon and thus, healthy bowel movements.  For more information on colon health, contact us.