How Regular is Regular?
People love talking about their latest diet or what they’re eating - fewer people love talking about what happens after you eat. Our bowel movements can actually tell us a lot about our health, and the frequency with which we visit the bathroom can also be very telling.
Our digestive system, or our gut, is where our food is broken down and digested, where nutrients get absorbed, and where waste products we don’t need are sent to the colon to be expelled in the form of, well, poop. When our digestive system is working properly, with all the enzymes, bacteria, and hormones working as needed, we eliminate our waste painlessly and efficiently. When something in our body is off kilter, we see it with our poop. For example, the Bristol Stool Form (yup, there’s a chart about poop) classifies the different kinds of poop on a scale of 1-7. Poop in categories 1 and 2 indicate constipation, meaning you may need to eat more fiber, drink more water, and move more. On the opposite end of the scale are categories 6 and 7, which indicate diarrhea. Diarrhea may be a sign of an infection, a food intolerance, food-borne illness, or something more serious, like irritable bowel syndrome.
While ideally, our bowel movements would fall into categories 3 and 4 (meaning they’re smooth, and easy to pass), there are a number of reasons why your poop may vary day by day. Stress, diet, exercise or lack thereof, and even travel can impact how often we go, and what it looks like. Poop is important because it eliminates the things we don’t need or want in our body, and helps keep our gut functioning efficiently. Poop can also indicate a health problem, so knowing what your normal movements look like is important for keeping track of your overall health. We will discuss when to be concerned about your bowel movements later in this post!
Why am I pooping more?
So why are we talking about poop? We have many customers contact us concerned about their increase in bowel movements after starting our meal plans. People who were used to going every 2 to 3 days are now going once or twice per day, and are worried this is a problem. We wanted to clear up some of the confusion on why you may experience more frequent bowel movements, and why this increase is not cause for concern.
The most likely cause of your increased bowel movements is fiber. Fiber is the carbohydrate found in plant foods that the body cannot digest, so it gets eliminated in our waste. Fiber helps keep our blood cholesterol and blood sugars down, helps with weight loss, and helps produce regular bowel movements! A source of fiber, whether in whole foods or a supplement, is the first thing recommended to those suffering with constipation because of how effective it is in getting things moving. Because our meals are balanced and include whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, you will likely be eating more fiber than you are used to. This increase in fiber means an increase in bowel movements. More fiber also means we should drink more water, so be sure to drink plenty of water each day. This will also help reduce your risk for constipation.
The Bristol Stool Chart
The Bristol Stool Chart is a good visual way of understanding if you have healthy poop or not. And to decipher the chart, here's the basic breakdown:
Stools that are well-formed and easy to pass (Types 3 and 4) are considered "ideal." Stool that is hard and difficult to pass (Types 1 and 2) indicates constipation. Constipation can lead to straining and the development of hemorrhoids.
Stool that contains excess liquid or is entirely liquid indicates diarrhea (Types 5, 6, and 7). Prolonged diarrhea may lead to dehydration and malnourishment.
Our eating habits can also play a role in our bowel movements. Not eating at routine times, eating fast food and on the go, and eating quick, low-fiber foods can all impact our bowel movements. With a meal plan, you can count on eating at more routine times because your food is conveniently ready for you when you need it. Establishing a routine eating schedule can help improve your poop schedule, and may contribute to more trips to the bathroom.
Having a meal plan may help relieve some stress in those who used to spend hours each day thinking about food. Stress can impact bowel movements, leading to constipation. Some relief from this stress by not having to worry about buying, preparing, and eating healthy meals could also contribute to customer’s more frequent bowel movements.
Benefits of pooping more
As we discussed, the frequency of your bowel movements can tell you a lot about your health. It can also help you feel more healthy in general. Bloating, abdominal pain, and feeling ill can be uncomfortable side effects of constipation. Having a more regular poop schedule can help prevent these side effects, and keep you feeling energized and ready to take on the day. Fiber aids in weight loss, and more frequent pooping can even help you in your weight loss efforts. Our body weight fluctuates daily depending on what we’ve eaten and whether or not we’ve pooped recently. Regular bowel movements can help you gain a clearer idea of your weight progress and help in your weight loss efforts.
What is normal?
Unfortunately, there is no true “normal” poop schedule that fits every one. Everybody and every gut is different, so your healthy poop schedule may differ from someone else's. For some people, pooping two to three times per day is normal, while for others they may go once or twice per week. It’s normal, and a good thing, if you experience an increase in bowel movements after beginning your Pure Plates meal plan - that means your body needed more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables that it’s now getting! As long as your increased movements are still easy to pass and painless, you have no cause for concern. Signs of something being wrong include on-going diarrhea, constipation, painful or straining to poop, and blood in the stool. These are all red flags that something may be wrong, and warrant a trip to the doctor.
If you find yourself taking more trips to the bathroom after beginning to use Pure Plates, know you aren’t alone and that your increase in bowel movements is a sign that your body is working efficiently and healthily to help you reach your goals!