1. Your Diet
Your daily diet can affect the frequency of your poop and how regular your bowel movements are. If you change your diet, your poop will change, too. All humans experience something called a “gastrocolic reflex” In short, our intestines are sensitive to the passage of food, so they send chemical signals to the brain that prompt us to go to the toilet. Certain foods in our diet, like fiber, stimulate bowel movements more than others.
2. The Amount of Fiber in Your Diet
Some fibers increase the frequency of bowel movements by adding bulk to your stool. This bulkiness is sensed by your intestines, which stimulates the process of elimination. You should consume about 28 grams of fiber each day to get the daily recommended fiber intake. Examples of high fiber foods include:
- Grains: whole grain pasta, oats, and quinoa.
- Legumes: lentils, kidney beans, and soybeans
- Fruits: raspberries, apples, and avocados.
- Vegetables: carrots, broccoli, green peas, and artichokes.
- Nuts: almonds peanuts, and pecans.
3. Fiber Supplements Like Metamucil
Did you know only 5% of Americans get enough daily fiber from their diet? To help increase your daily fiber intake, try a fiber supplement like Metamucil, made with 100% natural psyllium fiber. And while it does promote digestive health and help maintain regularity,* Metamucil does so much more. It also helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels,* helps lower cholesterol to promote heart health,† and helps you feel less hungry between meals.*
4. Your Fluid Intake
In general, drinking water helps your body break down food and avoid constipation. Many people find that when they are dehydrated, they experience constipation. In addition to water, other beverages that can help include warm ones like, coffee and tea, also have the effect of stimulating bowel movements. Water also works hand-in-hand with fiber to soften your stool. Consuming fiber-rich foods with high water content, for example, carrots and apples, is a very good way to get both fiber and fluids. If you don’t consume the fluids your body needs, you may become constipated and your poop will be hard. Constipation is a condition in which you may have fewer than three bowel movements in a week, and your stools are hard, dry, or lumpy, making them painful and difficult to pass.
5. Your Level of Physical Activity and Exercise
If your body is moving, it helps get your bowels moving, too. Engaging in physical activity and exercise can affect how often you poop. Exercise reduces the time it takes for food to pass through the large intestine. Because of the reduced time, your body will not get to absorb as much water from your stool and you would find it easier to poop.
The older we get, the more likely we are to experience irregularities in our bowel movements. One of the reasons for this is that as we age, the process of digestion slows down, and it may take more time for food to move through our intestines. This can be due to several factors, including reduced muscle tone in the muscles associated with the digestive system, a sedentary lifestyle, lack of dietary fiber, and side effects from medicines.
7. Hormonal Changes in Women
Many women experience a change in how often they poop or consistency around their monthly period, during pregnancy, or around menopause. The common denominator here is hormonal changes. Estrogen is a hormone that can fluctuate in women. Estrogen is responsible for keeping cortisol (the stress hormone) levels low. Whenever estrogen drops, cortisol also drops, and this may slow down the digestive system, resulting in constipation.
8. Your Position on the Toilet Seat
Sitting properly on the toilet seat can promote good bowel movements. Putting your feet on a stool can help you with the complete evacuation of your poop.
9. Ignoring the Urge to Poop
Once your large intestine absorbs all the nutrients from your food, the waste travels along downwards into your rectum. Your rectum has nerves that send a message to your brain to tell it that your bowel is full and needs to be emptied. This is how you get the urge to poop. Sometimes, factors like limited access or an aversion to public restrooms can discourage you from listening to the urge to go to the bathroom. However, if you constantly ignore this urge, you may start to experience occasional constipation. This is because you are giving your body more time to absorb the water from your large intestine.
10. Changes in Your Routine
A change in your schedule could mean that you temporarily switch to a different diet. Like if you need to travel for work, you may not be able to cook the food you normally eat. This could potentially mean consuming foods with less fiber, and consequently, less regular bowel movements. Or you may have to decrease your physical activity, which could result in fewer bowel movements.