There are many possible indicators of health problems, but you might not be aware of all of them. One such indicator that people are often unaware of (or overlook) is the quality of their bowel movements. It’s not a topic many people like to talk about, which is part of the reason it is so often ignored. But while it might be unpleasant, it can reveal important information about your health, and even alert you that something is wrong. It’s important to know what is normal, what’s weird, what’s healthy, and what’s not, because bowel movements can reveal signs of digestive problems, infections, or early signs of cancer.
Here are some things to know about the health of your bowel movements:
- Water makes up about 75% of your bowel movements.
- People are unique and so are their bowel movements. The size, shape, and consistency of a normal bowel movement changes from person to person, but if there is any inconsistency among your own, this might be cause for concern.
- Normal stool is brown, but the color can range from light yellow to almost black. If stool is red, maroon, black, clay-colored, pale, yellow, or green, this may signify a problem.
- Blood is a warning sign – if there is blood in your stool on a recurring basis, see a doctor.
- Taking medication could be a cause of constipation; it is a common side effect of some drugs for pain, depression, and high blood pressure. If you are experiencing this problem, you might be able to change medications.
- If you are dealing with constipation, a box of laxatives should not be the first remedy you turn to. Adding more fiber and water to your diet will usually solve the problem!
Your mood matters – depression or anxiety can affect your whole body, including your bowels.
If your stool has become pencil thin and hard to pass, this could be a sign of colon cancer. In certain types of colon cancer, the bowel narrows and so do your bowel movements. If this occurs it does not automatically mean cancer, but you should consult with a doctor.
By now you should know what seems like a healthy bowel movement, and what could be a warning sign about your body’s health. So what can you do to boost the health of your bowels?
Here are a few tips:
- Drink plenty of water
- Eat probiotic foods as they contain good bacteria that aids digestion
- Eat fiber. The Institute of Medicine recommends 25 grams per day for women and 38 for men.
- Get plenty of exercise. This improves overall health and blood flow, which also benefits the digestive system.
- Perform activities that will help decrease your stress levels. Even something as simple as taking a walk, meditating, or listening to music you enjoy can help. Decreased stress has many positive impacts on the body and has been shown to reduce constipation.
- Limit caffeine and avoid alcohol consumption
Hopefully you have learned something new about your body, and will be able to use this information to have a healthier digestive system! Again, while you might not enjoy discussing this topic, it is important to see a medical professional is you suspect anything is not quite as it should be. However, if you follow our tips to keep your bowels healthy, you should be good to go!
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Post Attributed to Shane Anderson (North Central Phoenix Location Facility Manager).