How often should we poop? The golden rule of gastroenterology is to always listen to the “call to the stool” when the urgency strikes. Here because.
If you Google this question, chances are you’ll find an answer along the lines of three times a day to once every three days. But this leaves room for substantial variations. The real answer is: when you feel the need.
In fact, habitually postponing the urge to do so poop and slowing bowel “transit time” may be associated with an increased risk of problems such as bowel cancer, diverticulosis (small pockets of the bowel lining that protrude through the bowel wall), hemorrhoids and anal tears, and prolapse.
That’s why the golden rule of gastroenterology is to always listen to the “call to footstool”When the impulse strikes.
Eating often triggers the urge
At the beginning of the 20th century, physiologists established that a powerful urge to open the bowels was to eat food and they called it the gastro-colic reflex. It is often more potent after a fast and, therefore, after breakfast.
Babies generally empty their bowels when the need arises. However, as soon as we can make decisions for ourselves – around the same age we start walking – we learn to suppress this “call to the stool”.
Learning to control your insides is an important development step, but some of us go too far; we find that sometimes we can temporarily make this urge go away if we ignore it for a while, because now doesn’t seem like a convenient time.
But routinely suppressing this urge can be associated with symptoms including:
• abdominal pain
• variable and unpredictable bowel habits
• the wind; Other
• slower transit of matter through our intestine.
Know your “transit time”
We probably know how often we open our guts, but not many of us are aware of our “whole bowel transit time”. In other words, how long does it take for the residues of the food you eat to get out the other side.
This transit time is important because having urgency issues (a sudden, frantic urge to poop), diarrhea, and constipation can all be signs of slow transit.
There is an easy way to measure it; swallow a handful of raw sweet corn kernels and then watch out for the yellow kernels in your poop.
How long should it take before they show up? It should be between eight and 24 hours.
A longer transit time
Nobody is arguing that you should empty your guts wherever and whenever you want. But getting into the habit of putting it off means residues from the food you eat stay in your body longer than it should. Your transit time gets longer and your quality of life deteriorates.
On average, we produce around six tons of poop in our lifetime, which is made up of water, bacteria, nitrogenous matter, carbohydrates, undigested plant matter, and lipids (fats).
The longer this mix of things remains within us, the more it is subject to fermentation and decomposition. This produces not only wind, but also chemicals known as metabolites, which then come into contact with the lining of the gut and can be absorbed.
The idea of colon self-intoxication is not new. Since the days of the ancient Greeks, waste products in the intestine were thought to contribute to an imbalance of the four bodily humors (blood, yellow bile, black bile and phlegm) which are essential for good health.
Kellogg’s, part of the temperance movement in the United States in the 19th century, developed breakfast cereals to address both constipation and bad morals, which they believed were linked.
A longer transit time has been linked to a higher risk of significant gastrointestinal problems such as:
• colorectal cancer
• colon polyps
• gallstones; Other
Recent interest in the microbiome has also linked dysbiosis (or changes in the bacteria that live in our gut) with slow transit. So slow transit can also be associated with a wider range of diseases related to gastrointestinal dysbiosis.
A healthy habit
You can improve your bowel habits by increasing the amount of fiber and fluids in your diet, exercising regularly, and being in contact with your colon.
Some people are even using cognitive behavioral therapy to improve bowel function.
Most importantly, when your colon is calling, you should listen.
Martin Veysey is Honorary Professor at Newcastle University
This story originally appeared on The conversation and has been reproduced with permission
Originally published as Because holding back your urge to poop can wreak havoc on your guts