- How often should you poop each day?
- How Often Should You Poop a Week? A Doctor Weighs In
- What Causes Constipation?
- Will You Lose Weight? Take A Look At Your Poop
- How Often Should You Poop?
- HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU POOP?
- What is Normal Bowel Frequency?
- What Determines Stool Frequency?
- Do Men Have More Bowel Movements Than Women?
- Do Medications Cause Constipation?
- The ‘Three and Three’ Rule of Pooping Tells You If You’re Normal or Not
- Five out of five experts said no
- Christopher Hair, gastroenterologist, Deakin University
- Damien Belobrajdic, research scientist at CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency
- Dan Worthley, gastroenterologist, South Australian Health & Medical Research Institute
- Jakob Begun, gastroenterologist, University of Queensland
- Vincent Ho, gastroenterologist, Western Sydney University
- Frequent Bowel Movements
How often should you poop each day?
How often a person goes to the bathroom can vary a lot and depends on a range of factors including:
Because the large intestine absorbs excess water, not drinking enough fluids can harden poop and make it more difficult to go. Someone who is experiencing constipation should increase their fluid intake to help keep poop soft.
Constipation is often associated with getting older. Aging causes the gut to slow down, so poop does not pass through as quickly. Also, an older person is more likely to be taking medication that may interfere with their usual pooping habits.
Staying active helps the colon work better and move poop through the intestines more efficiently. When someone is experiencing constipation or slow digestion, going for a walk or run can help get things moving more regularly.
Share on PinterestA high fiber diet is likely to result in regular bowel movements. A diet lacking in fiber may lead to constipation, or other digestive problems.
What a person eats plays a significant role in how often they go to the bathroom. Fiber is an essential substance for healthy bowel movements.
Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that the small intestine cannot break down into smaller molecules. As a result, it passes to the colon as a mass of undigested food that eventually becomes poop, also known as stool. A diet that is adequate in fiber can promote regularity and prevent constipation.
Some medical conditions and medications can affect bowel health and cause a person to poop more or less often than usual. Inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, and even a basic stomach flu virus, can change how often a person has to poop.
Some hormones, such as progesterone and estrogen, can affect how often a woman goes to the bathroom. For example, some women report pooping much more frequently in the days leading up to and at the start of their period.
Some people have difficulty pooping in a public bathroom, at work, or when other people are nearby. This can cause someone to “hold it in” longer than necessary.
Over time, the body is not able to respond as quickly to signs that it needs to poop, which can cause someone to feel constipated or uncomfortable.
How Often Should You Poop a Week? A Doctor Weighs In
Everybody poops. It’s a vital biological function that rids the body of bacteria, fiber, cells, water, and indigestible plant matter (see: corn poops). But while everybody does it, we don’t all do it with the same frequency. While some may have a meeting with the bathroom every morning at the exact same time, others may have poop schedules that are less predictable.
So how often should you poop? Jean Marie Houghton, MD, who practices gastroenterology with UMass Memorial Health Care in Worcester, Massachusetts, tells Health the “average” frequency is between three times a day and every three days—“and everything in between!” Dr. Houghton says that most people have their routine pretty well established, “and although it may vary over time and with activity or diet, it is pretty predictable.”
She stresses that if you feel good, your “ideal” poop frequency is probably right on track. Her rule of thumb: Don’t get too hung up on the number. “If you go three times a day and feel great—perfect!” she says. However, if you’re going that often and feel bloated, uncomfortable, or an urgent need to poop, this isn’t normal, and should be addressed with a medical professional. And if you’re pooping more than three times a day but that’s pretty usual for you, you’re probably just fine, but make sure your doctor agrees just to be safe, Dr. Houghton suggests.
RELATED: What the Color of Your Poop Can Tell You About Your Health
What if your regular poop routine changes?
You may experience a change in schedule for a variety of reasons. Dr. Houghton says hormone changes—think: during your period, during pregnancy, or around menopause—can affect your poop cadence. And as you age, things tend to slow down in general, which also might be true for your number of bathroom breaks, she says.
Changes in your diet could also be making your poops unpredictable or uncomfortable. To get more regular, Dr. Houghton suggests avoiding processed foods and loading up on natural sources of fiber—foods like beans, nuts and seeds, and veggies. Staying hydrated with water and getting plenty of exercise should also help move things along.
However, if you’re suddenly pooping more or less than usual, it’s worth a check-in with your doctor, Dr. Houghton says.
RELATED: There Are 7 Types of Poop—Here’s How to Tell If Yours Is Normal
Signs your poop is trying to tell you something
We can learn a lot about our health through our poop, no matter how often we go number two. There are a handful of warning signs to be mindful of when you spot them. Get checked out if you ever see blood in your stool; experience a significant change in size, color, or frequency in your poops; or if you feel pain while pooping, Dr. Houghton says. And if you have a family history of GI diseases, it’s always wise to share this information with your doctor.
RELATED: 15 Foods That Help You Poop
What Causes Constipation?
Our busy, modern lifestyles may be responsible for most cases of constipation: not eating enough fiber or drinking enough water, not getting enough exercise, and not taking the time to respond to an unmistakable urge to go to the bathroom. Persistent, chronic constipation may also be a symptom of more serious conditions, including inflammatory bowel disease, colorectal cancer, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, depression, or an underactive thyroid gland.
Bowel habits tend to vary with age and circumstances. Bottle-fed babies, for example, tend to have firmer stools and more bouts of constipation than breast-fed babies. Some children become constipated when they start school or other activities, because they are embarrassed to ask permission to use the toilet. Toddlers often become constipated during toilet training if he or she is unwilling or afraid to use the toilet. Being sensitive to pain, children may avoid the toilet if they have minor splits or tears in the anus from straining or other irritations. Kids can also become constipated from consuming certain foods, such as dairy products.
Older people, especially those who are more sedentary, tend to develop constipation more often.
Medications that can cause constipation include narcotics, diuretics, iron supplements, antacids, and drugs for blood pressure, seizures, and depression.
Never in a million years did I ever suspect that when I grew up I would spend all my days talking about poop!
Alas! I’ve been called “the queen of poop talk” so I guess it’s time to embrace my fate.
Here’s a daily dose of poop scoop.
It’s ironic to me that many of us spend so much of our time thinking and talking about what we put in our bodies — the food, the calories, the protein, the fat — but when it comes to talking about what comes out of our bodies, we get shy and embarrassed.
Here’s a fact: Everyone poops. Yep, everyone sits on the porcelain throne. You already know this, so let me get right to the reason that I’m bringing it up in the first place.
Waste = weight.
That’s right. The number one weight loss secret that nobody talks about is the fact that the extra poop sitting around in your body is a main cause of your excess weight. When you learn to rid your body of extra waste on a regular basis, weight loss and maintenance become effortless.
Sounds, pretty good, right?
Cleansing the body is all the rage these days and this is certainly a big part of cleaning out your tissues and cells so you can rid your body of old toxic waste. Food combining and implementing a few simple practices into your everyday eating routine can allow your digestive system to work optimally. In a nutshell, how can you tune up your digestive system so you can learn to poop like a 3-year-old again?
The Basics of Food Combining
Food combining can be a complex topic. It can also make us a bit crazy in the beginning because we’ve been taught to think that a balanced meal contains a protein and a starch with a small side of vegetables.
What many of us don’t know are the complexities of the digestive system, and the fact that different food groups require different amounts of time to be broken down and absorbed by the body. What’s even more interesting is that the faster a food is digested, the less waste it leaves behind. The less waste left behind, the easier the digestion process. The easier the digestive process, the more you’ll poop!
When you learn to eliminate on a consistent and regular basis (at least every day, if not twice!) the other results you can expect are less of the following: weight, cellulite, inflammation, disease, headaches, acid reflux, gas, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, and more!
Okay, so let’s look some very basic food combining principles.
1. Vegetables combine well with nuts and seeds.
2. Vegetables combine well with legumes and beans.
3. Vegetables combine well with non-gluten grains.
4. Vegetables combine well with animal protein.
5. Choose one category of protein (nuts/seeds, legumes/beans or animal protein) per meal.
6. Choose either a protein or a starch/grain per meal, but not both.
7. Always eat fresh fruit alone on an empty stomach with a few minor exceptions (fruit does combine well with dark leafy greens, like in green smoothies)
As you can see, veggies combine well with most foods well. What’s key is to avoid mixing an animal protein and a starch or grain in the same meal.
As I mentioned, there are many complexities and gray areas when it comes to food combining. The point is not to obsess but more to become aware of this simple yet profound principle. And don’t take my word for it. Be your own experiment. If after a meal you feel energized, gas-free, less bloated, poop easily, lose or maintain weight, you most likely found a good food combo.
Will You Lose Weight? Take A Look At Your Poop
Even if you feel lonely while trying to lose weight, you know in your gut you are never alone. And depending on what’s in your gut, you may or may not have some help when you are dieting, according to a study just published in the International Journal of Obesity.
As you may know, your intestines are teeming with bacteria. They form cities in your gut collectively called the microbiome. Danish researchers found that the type of bacteria in your microbiome may affect how much weight you may lose from a particular diet.
Here’s the poop on the study. Researchers from the University of Copenhagen, the Technical University of Denmark, the Steno Diabetes Center Copenhagen, and Gelesis Inc. measured and calculated the ratio of two bacteria, Prevotella and Bacteroides, in the poop from 62 people who were overweight. Then, the researchers randomly assigned the study participants to receive for 26 weeks either the ad libitum New Nordic Diet (NND), which is high in fiber and whole grains, or an Average Danish Diet (ADD).
Watch on Forbes: The Diet You Need to Supercharge Your Stomach
The results? Among those with a high Prevotella to Bacteroides ratio, study participants on the high fiber (or NND) diet lost on average 3.15 kg (or 6.94 pounds) more body fat than those on the average Danish diet. By contrast, the two diets did not result in any significant difference among those with low Prevotella to Bacteroides ratios. In other words, different bacteria, different responses to the diet.
While this study doesn’t necessarily prove that the bacteria in your intestines can help you predict how you will respond to a particular diet, it is further evidence that diet, metabolism, and weight loss form a much more complicated system than many previously realized. As I indicated previously for Forbes, the bacteria in your intestines can help you break down and absorb your food. One individual may try just as hard as (or harder than) others to lose weight and not get the same results. Although the bacterial content of the microbiome could be affected by something else that is affecting a person’s ability to lose weight, increasingly it seems that your bacteria is playing a role in the processing of food in your body. So instead of blaming the individual, you may want to blame the bacteria (i.e., bacteria shaming) as well as other things in the person’s life that could affect his or her weight (e.g., shaming bad social influences, broken food system, too much salt, sugar, and artificial ingredients in food, the chemicals in the environment, etc.)
It also further raises the importance of poop. In fact, infectious disease epidemiologist, digital health expert, and science communications guru Beth Linas, PhD asked:
Sensors will be added next & then we can get our results right on our phone!
— Beth Linas, PhD (@bethlinas) September 16, 2017
A distinct possibility indeed, Dr. Linas. It could be that, in the future, poop tests (in the doctor’s office or at home) will help guide diets and dieting. Diets and weight loss programs could become a lot more personalized and tailored to the individual. More research is needed to see how exactly this may unfurl.
What role may “probiotics” play in weight management? (Photo: )
Oh, poo, you may say, what if you are stuck with a “bad” microbiome? Well, evidence suggests that different things that you put in your mouth can affect your microbiome such as medications (especially antibiotics) and the food that you eat. Your surroundings such as pollution may also influence your microbiome composition. Although more research is needed to determine how exactly your diet and other factors may affect the bacteria in your intestines and how interventions such as probiotics may help, minimizing antibiotic use is one thing you may want to do immediately.
Taking more antibiotics than needed already clearly can lead to negative consequences such as antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Also, a study published in the International Journal of Obesity and led by Brian Schwartz, MD, Professor of Environmental Health Sciences and a member of our Global Obesity Prevention Center (GOPC) at Johns Hopkins University found an association between antibiotic use and subsequent development of obesity among children.
Other possibilities may be on their way. My earlier piece for Forbes described how researchers have been experimenting with fecal transplants (giving people poop from normal weight individuals) to help people lose weight.
The microbiome and poop are likely to play a bigger role in weight management in the future. Again obesity is not simple but is the result of complex systems. Addressing obesity requires addressing these complex systems. You know the two sayings, “pay attention to your friends” and “take care of your friends and they will take care of you”? The same may apply to your friends in your gut.
How Often Should You Poop?
Your “friend” probably hates answers like this, but there’s no such thing as “normal” when it comes to the number of, well, number twos you have in an average day, says Jean Ashburn, M.D., a colorectal surgeon at Cleveland Clinic. “What’s normal is what works for you,” she says.
What matters more? How you feel when it happens-whether that’s twice a day or once every two days. “If you have a pleasant experience-for a lack of a better way to say it-in the bathroom, then I think you’re normal,” Ashburn says. You don’t want to enjoy the toilet time too much, though. Israeli researchers found roughly half of adults read while sitting on the toilet, and that group was slightly more likely to develop hemorrhoids.
There are plenty of things that could contribute to a change in your pooping schedule and how easy each bowel movement feels. The most likely culprit, though, is your food and water intake. Try keeping a diet diary to log what you eat and drink, when, and how your bowel habits are affected that day, Ashburn suggests. If you feel like you’re backed up, you’re probably not drinking enough fluids, finds a study published in The American Journal of Gastroenterology. Food plays a role, too. “There are certain foods that tend to stuff us up or constipate us like cheese and peanut butter and other low-fiber foods,” Ashburn says. “Commonly, just a little adjustment in diet can allow people to have a bowel movement a lot easier.”
If what’s normal for you starts to change and doesn’t let up or your trips to the bathroom become painful, see a doctor to get checked out. But don’t get hung up on changes that come up during that time of the month. Increased levels of prostaglandins during your period could affect your bowel habits, finds a Gastroenterology Report. “Some women report having more diarrhea or constipation around the time of her period-that’s normal,” Ashburn says.
Next up, find out why running makes you poop.
- By By Moira Lawler
Following a big win in the Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Finals, or any other major sporting event, fans want to get their hands on championship merchandise as quickly as possible. To meet this demand and cash in on the wallet-loosening “We’re #1” euphoria, manufacturers and retailers produce and stock two sets of T-shirts, hats, and other merchandise that declare each team the champ.
On Super Bowl Sunday, that means apparel for the winner—either the San Francisco 49ers or the Kansas City Chiefs—will quickly fill clothing racks and gets tossed to players on the field once the game concludes. But what happens to the losing team’s clothing? It’s destined for charity.
Good360, a charitable organization based in Alexandria, Virginia, handles excess consumer merchandise and distributes it to those in need overseas. The losing team’s apparel—usually shirts, hats, and sweatshirts—will be held in inventory locations across the U.S. Following the game, Good360 will be informed of exactly how much product is available and will then determine where the goods can best be of service.
Good360 chief marketing officer Shari Rudolph tells Mental Floss there’s no exact count just yet. But in the past, the merchandise has been plentiful. Based on strong sales after the Chicago Bears’s 2007 NFC Championship win, for example, Sports Authority printed more than 15,000 shirts proclaiming a Bears Super Bowl victory well before the game even started. And then the Colts beat the Bears, 29-17.
Good360 took over the NFL’s excess goods distribution in 2015. For almost two decades prior, an international humanitarian aid group called World Vision collected the unwanted items for MLB and NFL runners-up at its distribution center in Pittsburgh, then shipped them overseas to people living in disaster areas and impoverished nations. After losing Super Bowl XLIII in 2009, Arizona Cardinals gear was sent to children and families in El Salvador. In 2010, after the New Orleans Saints defeated Indianapolis, the Colts gear printed up for Super Bowl XLIV was sent to earthquake-ravaged Haiti.
In 2011, after Pittsburgh lost to the Green Bay Packers, the Steelers Super Bowl apparel went to Zambia, Armenia, Nicaragua, and Romania.
Fans of the Super Bowl team that comes up short can take heart: At least the spoils of losing will go to a worthy cause.
An earlier version of this story appeared in 2009. Additional reporting by Jake Rossen.
All images courtesy of World Vision, unless otherwise noted.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU POOP?
We all know pooping is an important and natural part of life, but do you know how often you need to go to maintain digestive health?
In general, you should have a bowel movement between three times a day and three times a week.(1) But how do you know if the bowel movements you have are good or not?
THE “PERFECT” BOWEL MOVEMENT
The ideal bowel movement is:
- A “ghost wipe,” leaving no mess on the toilet paper
- One long piece or a few short pieces
If you are not having the “perfect” bowel movement, there could be many reasons why. Stress, travel, and diet can all affect the size, shape, and mess of stool. If you’re experiencing less-than-ideal bowel movements, the fiber in Metamucil can help promote digestive health and maintain regularity*, leaving you feeling lighter and more energetic**.
If you have questions or are concerned that your constipation may be more than just occasional, consult with your healthcare provider.
METAMUCIL CAN HELP
If you’re concerned you’re not having the right amount of bowel movements for your digestive health, the fiber in Metamucil can help you stay regular. Metamucil is the only leading fiber supplement brand^ that contains psyllium, which gels in your system to trap and remove the waste that weighs you down.
You can sign up today for the Metamucil Two-Week Challenge to receive a $2 off coupon and daily emails filled with tips and reminders to help you start having the perfect poops!
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclaimer for more info.
I can understand how this topic on poop may seem a bit uncomfortable to some, but based on my experiences with patients and students, I’m going to tell you that many people have similar questions.
Heck, Dr. Oz did a whole episode on this topic a few years back.
In fact, I still remember when I was in school, when we were covering the digestive system module, a friend of mine asked our professor about bowel movement frequency. At the time, my friend was following the “Eat every 3 hours, 6 meals a day” plan. And he asked the professor “So, how often SHOULD we be having a bowel movement?”
Our professor paused for a moment and said, “Ideally after every meal.”
My friend then blurted out, “6 times a day?!”
Luckily, for my friend, this was one of the very few times my professor was incorrect.
Listen to Dr. Neal address this topic on Episode 845 of the podcast Optimal Health Daily.
What is Normal Bowel Frequency?
There have been studies that examine bowel frequency and disease risk, like colon cancer for example. There are even studies that look at bowel movement frequency and Parkinson’s disease.
This is because there’s the theory that the health status of the gut influences the health status of the brain (also known as the gut-brain connection).
Most studies have found that one bowel movement each day is about right. In some, one bowel movement every 2 to 3 days may be fine, as well. Unfortunately, when we look at some of the largest studies on this topic, their findings differ.
One large study performed in the U.S. found that those with 2 or more bowel movements each day did not have an increased risk for colon cancer when compared to those that experience 1 each day. However, a recently published Japanese study couldn’t replicate these results. They found that having a bowel movement once every 6 days or so had the highest risk for developing colon cancer.
So, it seems that, depending on the person, having anywhere from 3 bowel movements a day to 3 per week may be considered normal. So, luckily for my colleague back in school, our professor was incorrect: 6 times a day would NOT be considered normal!
What Determines Stool Frequency?
Now, what actually determines healthy poop frequency? So many factors — age, gender, hydration, medications, stress, diet of course, body weight, and physical activity to name a few. I’m not going to discuss specific disease states like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) because that would need a separate episode on its own.
If we think about age for a moment, for those parents out there — even parents of baby animals — you probably have noticed that these young ones often have more frequent bowel movements when compared to adults, or even when compared to their older siblings. As we move from young adulthood into middle age and beyond, stool frequency also tends to decrease.
Do Men Have More Bowel Movements Than Women?
Women, on average, have fewer bowel movements than men. But that may just be because men eat a higher volume of food. Those that have a higher Body Mass Index may have more frequent bowel movements as well.
It seems that walking or jogging may lead to more frequent bowel movements. It’s believed that walking and jogging stimulate the colon to push its contents along a little more quickly (what healthcare practitioners call peristalsis).
Do Medications Cause Constipation?
As for medications, a strong pain reliever like a narcotic or anti-depressant may slow down peristalsis and lead to constipation.
When you take antibiotics, they may temporarily wipe out the good bacteria in your colon which can change the number of times you poop. You may experience diarrhea or constipation…it just depends.
This is because antibiotics are built to kill bacteria. They don’t know which ones are good or bad — they just kill all bacteria.
Stress can absolutely play a role, too. In some, stress stimulates peristalsis which causes more frequent bowel movements. In others, it can lead to constipation.
I wish I had more definitive answers. There are just so many variables that may influence how often you poop. When it comes to diet and maintaining stool frequency, the scientific community mostly agrees that staying adequately hydrated (drinking enough water so that your urine is a pale yellow color and getting 20 to 35 grams of dietary fiber each day (ideally from whole foods like fruits and vegetables) appear to be most important. Both of these will help keep the gut microbiome healthy which we agree definitely influences bowel frequency.
Dr. Neal Malik leads the Master of Science in Nutrition for Wellness program and teaches core courses at Bastyr University California. He has a Doctorate in Public Health from Loma Linda University and is a Certified Exercise Physiologist from the American College of Sports Medicine.Send in your health related question and Dr. Neal will answer it on the Optimal Health Daily show!
- Bacterial infection
- C. difficile infection (which can be serious if untreated)
- Viral infection
- Parasitic infection, such as from worms or protozoa
- Diverticulitis (the small pockets along the wall of the colon fill with stagnant fecal material and become inflamed)
- Inflammatory bowel disease (a group of disorders, including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, that cause irritation and swelling of the digestive tract)
- Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas)
- Celiac disease (an autoimmune disease that causes sensitivity to gluten, a protein found in grains such as wheat, rye or barley)
- Cancer of the colon or elsewhere in the digestive tract
- Food allergies
- Gallbladder problems
- Lactose intolerance (the inability to digest lactose, the sugar primarily found in milk and dairy products)
- Irritable bowel syndrome (a disorder of the colon or lower bowel with symptoms that include abdominal pains or cramps)
- Side effects of medications (including antacids, laxatives, stool softeners)
- Foods and beverages, including certain herbs and herbal teas, alcohol and caffeine
- Use of antibiotics, which can upset normal bacteria in the gut
- Bowel obstruction
- Complications of intestinal or abdominal surgery
- Complications of cancer treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy
October 11, 2019
The ‘Three and Three’ Rule of Pooping Tells You If You’re Normal or Not
Some days you might find yourself in and out of the toilet, and some days might go by without a single visit for a Number Two. Should this be a cause for concern?
We asked five experts if we have to poop every day.
Five out of five experts said no
Here are their detailed responses:
Christopher Hair, gastroenterologist, Deakin University
The human body is complex, which helps to explain why so many “normal” functions differ between people, including sleep, urination, and defecation. What is perceived as normal for many is out of normal for others. Pooping is one such example of this range. What is normal is well-defined yet broad. In many studies into normal, “healthy” defecation, normal pooping ranges from three times per day to three times per week. Less than 40 percent of healthy people poop once a day.
Pooping out of the normal for an individual might signify illness such as infection (pooping more) or cancer (pooping blood). Sometimes not pooping at all might indicate illness, such as a metabolic condition.
Damien Belobrajdic, research scientist at CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency
Opening your bowels every day is not essential for the proper functioning of your digestive system. However, long periods without bowel movements (fewer than three stools per week) can cause a number of complications such as hemorrhoids, anal fissures, or fecal impaction. Constipation can be caused by many factors, including a range of medical conditions, some medications (such as opioids and some antacids), nutritional supplements (such as iron) and, of course, a diet low in fiber.
The best way to promote optimal digestive health and regular bowel motions is to drink plenty of water and consume high-fiber foods at every meal. This can be achieved through a varied diet including whole-grain breads and cereals, legumes, nuts and seeds, vegetables, and fresh fruits.
Watch More Form VICE News:
Dan Worthley, gastroenterologist, South Australian Health & Medical Research Institute
In a recent, large study of 4,775 people reporting “normal” bowel patterns, it was found that about 95 percent of people move their bowels between three and 21 times weekly. So between three times a day and three times a week is what I like to call the “Goldilocks zone for pooping.”
But just as important as frequency is form. To describe our stool consistency, we use the Bristol Stool Form Scale which uses a seven-point scale ranging from Type 1 “separate hard lumps, like nuts” to Type 7 “watery, no solid pieces.” Type 4 (“Like a sausage or snake, smooth and soft”) is the Nirvana of all bowel actions, but 50 percent of normal patients report some variation from this.
Jakob Begun, gastroenterologist, University of Queensland
Stool is the end product of our gut metabolizing our food, and it consists of non-absorbed material, microbes, and water. Each week the average person produces between 500 and 1,100 grams of stool. The frequency of defecation is governed by many factors including diet, the intrinsic motor activity of the gut, the rectal capacity, behavioral factors, as well as the gut microbiome. Studies have generally confirmed the “three and three” rule—that normal bowel frequency varies between three times a day, and once every three days.
When assessing whether people have constipation, there’s an emphasis on symptoms in addition to stool frequency. So a person who moves their bowels less often than once a day, but does not have any discomfort, straining, or other symptoms, is normal.
Vincent Ho, gastroenterologist, Western Sydney University
Studies in the UK and Sweden found almost all patients had a frequency of bowel motions between three times per week and three times per day. So this is thought to be the normal range for how often you should go. Experiencing temporary changes in bowel frequency or consistency is normal. Many non-disease factors are known to affect the frequency of bowel motions including fluid intake, physical activity, diet, age, and social factors such as embarrassment in going to the toilet at work.
This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.
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Poop fact: The average person poops about once a day, but the “normal” range spans from three times a day to once every three days. Hypothetically speaking, that means you could create nine poops in the time another person makes just one (mind blown). But how come? Well, how often you poop is influenced by several factors, which we’ve listed below.
Above all else, your poop schedule is genetically programmed. In fact, researchers recently analyzed the genetic makeup of participants who kept daily records of their bowel movements, and pinpointed the actual genes associated with increased and decreased stool frequency. That’s right: You probably poop however often your parents pooped. Thanks for the numb legs, dad!
A diet high in fiber and fluids can lead to more frequent pooping. That’s because fiber (in the form of whole grains, vegetables and fruits) adds bulk to your stool, while fluids make it softer and easier to pass. For optimal pooping, the American Heart Association recommends consuming 25 grams of fiber per day (for reference, a cup of almonds contains about 11 grams and an apple contains about four). Good luck!
Slobbing around on the couch all day can lead to slower motility in the gut, which means less pooping. On the flip side, consistent exercise accelerates peristalsis, the internal intestinal movement that propels waste through your digestive tract, which means—you guessed it—more pooping (which explains why my gym bathroom is always full).
The older you are, the less you poop. This happens for a few reasons, including naturally slowed digestion, reduced mobility and, generally speaking, increased medication usage (some of which may impede digestion). All of which explains how grandpa is able to not leave his recliner for days at a time.
Some chronic illnesses, like inflammatory bowel disease, can cause more frequent bowel movements, followed by constipation. Certain viruses (like the stomach flu) also target the digestive tract, causing inflammation of the stomach and intestines. In response, your body goes into poop-it-all-out mode in an attempt to rid itself of the virus.
In the end, unless it’s really extreme, how often you poop shouldn’t be cause for alarm. What really matters is that you’re consistent within your own routine: Sudden periods of more or less frequent pooping are usually indicative of a diet or lifestyle change, which is why you might be less consistent over the weekends, when you’re drinking all the booze and eating all the food. But if you experience a sudden change in frequency without any reasonable explanation, maybe check in with your doctor. After all, your poop is a window into your health (and if it’s actually transparent, you really need to see your doctor).
Frequent Bowel Movements
What are frequent bowel movements?
Frequent bowel movements is a condition in which a person defecates (eliminates waste from the bowel) more often than usual. There is no “normal” number of bowel movements. Most people have 0-4 bowel movements a week, but the frequency can range from three times a day to three times a week. To say that a person’s bowel movements have become more frequent is based on an increase in that person’s usual pattern, not on a standard definition that applies to everyone.
The two main bowel movement conditions are constipation (fewer than three bowel movements per week) and diarrhea (more than three movements of loose stools per day).
Who is affected by frequent bowel movements?
Frequent bowel movements occur in both males and females of any age.
What causes frequent bowel movements?
Some cases of frequent bowel movements last for a short time only and are not a cause for concern. These can be caused by digestive upset from eating spoiled, fatty or spicy food, a food that is not tolerated, or an intestinal “bug” that clears in a day or two.
Other possible causes of frequent bowel movements include an increase in physical exercise, certain medications like antibiotics or metformin, or a change in the diet (more fiber, water, fats or sugars). Bowel movements may return to the usual after the person adapts to these changes or makes modifications to his or her diet.
When the person has other symptoms to go along with the greater number of bowel movements, there may be other causes, including the following:
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