Did you know the average person generates about five TONS of stool in his or her lifetime? Also, the average person passes gas 14 to 17 per day (yes, there was a study about this), and on average, you’ll pass about half a liter of gas/day.
Frequency, shape, size, color, and other fecal features can tell you a great deal about your overall health, how your gastrointestinal tract is functioning and even give you clues about serious disease processes that could be occurring, like infections, digestive problems and even cancer.
Here are a few tips for achieving healthy bowel movements:
- Eat a diet that includes minimally processed foods and is rich in fresh, organic vegetables and fruits that provide good nutrients and fiber; most of your fiber should come from vegetables, not from grains.
- Avoid artificial sweeteners, excess sugar (especially fructose), chemical additives, MSG, excessive amounts of caffeine and processed foods as they are all detrimental to your gastrointestinal (and immune) function.
- Boost your intestinal flora by adding naturally fermented foods into your diet, such as sauerkraut, pickles and kefir. Add a probiotic supplement if you suspect you’re not getting enough beneficial bacteria from your diet alone.
- Try increasing your fiber intake; good options include psyllium and freshly ground organic flax seed (shoot for 35 grams of fiber per day).
- Make sure you stay well hydrated with fresh, pure water.
- Be active. At least 30 minutes of calisthenics four times a week translates into healthy bowel habits plus many other health benefits.
- Avoid pharmaceutical drugs, such as pain killers like codeine or hydrocodone which will slow your bowel function. Antidepressants and antibiotics can cause a variety of GI disruptions.
- Avoid stress (or at least learn how to control it).
- Consider squatting instead of sitting to move your bowels. As crazy as it sounds, squatting straightens your rectum, relaxes your puborectalis muscle and encourages the complete emptying of your bowel without straining, and has been scientifically shown to relieve constipation and hemorrhoids.