What partially inspired this topic was an experience we had while in our dietetic internship (for those unfamiliar, to be a registered dietitian-nutritionist one has 4 years of medical training and then a year of paying, not paid, internship). Between our collective stress as a cohort and our lifestyle factors, which included adult beverages and dancing at bars on weekends, it’s no wonder that, while walking with a friend to meet with our program director, she had a grimace on her face. When asked what was wrong, she grouchily responded, “I haven’t had my morning poo”. We were flabbergasted. Though we were far from the Bridgerton-era of delicate sensibilities, no one talked about poo. Ever. She helped to change that, as her simple statement helped illustrate how integral a morning routine, with a healthy bowel movement, could be. Lest you ever find yourself grimacing because you too have not had a good morning poo, we’ve got you, boo.
Pooping is a common problem in the United States, affecting all ages and populations. About 16% of adults, and 33% of adults 60 and older have symptoms of constipation.
What are symptoms of constipation?
< 3 bowel movements per week
stools that are hard, small and difficult to pass
a feeling of having incomplete bowel movements
Who could be at risk for Constipation?
Pretty much everyone. But more specifically:
• Pregnant women and those who have recently given birth
• People who are not getting enough fiber
• Those taking certain supplements or medications (including iron supplements or diuretics, calcium channel blockers, depression, and pain medication)
• If you’re stressed you’re probably not going to be pooping very well
• Those with certain health conditions or gastrointestinal disorders (e.g. IBS)
Constipation can be a sign of a medical problem so you’re going to want to talk with your doctor or healthcare provider to rule more serious issues out.
5 Tips for a Good Morning Poo
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1. As a general principle, you want to ensure you are drinking enough water. This seems basic and so many people skip over this, but don’t. When the body isn’t properly hydrated, it draws water out of the colon, which results in hard, dry stools.
2. This goes along with #1; get enough fiber into your diet. Plant foods are a great way to achieve this; however, if you increase your fiber intake without getting enough water, you’re going to have more ‘plumbing’ issues. Adults should get at least 25 grams of fiber per day.
3. Move your body and get your bowels moving. Whether it’s a light morning jog, walk, or even jumping jacks, this could help move things along your digestive tract.
4. Hot beverages. The heat from tea, coffee, or hot water and lemon can help stimulate a bowel movement. The high levels of caffeine in coffee are known to stimulate the bowels. A word of caution, you don’t want to have to rely on this.
5. Squat it out. A toilet stool or Squatty Potty can put your body in a position to make elimination easier.
Remember, talk with your friendly registered dietitian-nutritionist to investigate the amounts and types of fiber in your diet as well as to plan more fiber-rich meals.
So try these tips and ‘Crap-e’ Diem everyday!