When Everybody Poops… But You: A Fit Gal’s Guide to Healthy Bowels
May 08, 2013
By: Dr. Phoenyx Austin
The women’s locker room at my gym can be a very educational and funny place. Case in point: Just the other day, a group of women were complimenting one lady on her workout leggings and wanted to know where she bought them. She couldn’t quite remember where and while saying so she bent over a little with her hand on her tummy. That’s when another woman asked if she was OK, to which the woman in leggings replied, “Stomach just hurts a little.” Turns out the woman in leggings had been having bouts of constipation for the past 2 weeks and as soon as she confessed her dilemma, a few other women chimed in with bowel frustration stories of their own. Not too long after that, things had erupted into a full on bowel bonanza, ripe with discussions on colon cleansing and healthy bowel tips. And as I continued to listen in on the convo I just had to smile a little because I must say, there’s nothing more inspiring than watching a group of women huddled up and cheering on their fellow gym buddy to regular bowel movements. Now that’s what I call sisterly love.
Which brings me to today’s topic of discussion- healthy bowels. But before I get to that, let’s start off by clearing up one of the biggest bowels myths- namely that you have to go No. 2 like two to three times a day to be considered “regular.” Fact is, everybody poops - but not with the same frequency. So if you don't go every day, don't sweat it. But if you’re having any of the symptoms below, it might be an indication that your bowels movements are irregular and in need of a kick start.
Signs of an unhealthy bowel:
Hard, pebble-like stools
Bloating and gas
Dull skin and breakouts
Alright, so now that we’ve reviewed the signs of an unhealthy bowel, the most obvious next question is “Well, how do I whip my bowels back into shape?” Fortunately, the answer to that question is very simple: We whip our bowels back into shape by making No. 2 our No. 1 priority.
3 Easy Steps to a Healthy Bowel
Eat high fiber foods
The first step to healthy bowels is to eat plenty of fiber. Think of fiber as drain cleaner for your colon. Fiber can’t be broken down by our digestive system, so when we eat fiber, it will form a solid mass as it moves through our colon. It’s this mass of fiber that helps keep us regular by trucking along and pushing out any sludge and waste that’s sitting our bowel.
Here are a few examples of fiber rich foods you may want to incorporate into your diet: whole grains (steel cut oats and quinoa), green leafy veggies (spinach and kale), cruciferous vegetables (broccoli and cabbage), legumes (lentils and lima beans), and berries (blueberries and blackberries)
Tip: If you’re having issues with constipation, try a daily almond milk, banana, spinach and blueberry smoothie. 2 cups almond milk, 1 banana, 1 1/2 cup spinach, 1/2 cup blueberries. Drink this every morning and I guarantee you’ll ease on down the road in no time.
2. Drink plenty of water
Water is important because it helps cleanse your system and soften your stools. Women are notorious for slacking on water, so if you’re forgetful about drinking water during the day, just start carrying around a refillable water bottle. I carry a 20 oz. water bottle that easily fits in my purse and gym bag. As far as how much water you should drink, most of us have heard of the 8 glasses of water a day rule. Interestingly enough, there’s actually no scientific or medical basis to support this amount. But either way, 8 glasses of water a day is a decent place to start, and overall 8 glasses a day is still better than little to no water at all.
3. Exercise daily
Last but not least, one of the most important tips for healthy bowels is to exercise! Fact is, exercise isn’t just good for your heart and other muscles, it’s also good for keeping you regular. How so? Well it’s exercise that helps to stimulate the natural contraction of your intestinal muscles, which in turn helps your colon to move stools out quickly. So all that said you should aim for at least 30 minutes of daily exercise by doing a bit of brisk walking, ab crunches, or a full-blown cardio workout like running, cycling or even yoga. Remember, every bit of activity will help to stimulate those intestinal contractions. And by exercising on a daily basis you’ll give your colon the workout it needs to keep you getting up and going.
What do you think are the best remedies or food recipes to whip a sluggish bowel into shape? Share you healthy bowel tips in the comments below! – Dr. Phoenyx
Dr. Phoenyx Austin is a physician, author, and creator of the fitness blog, DrPhoenyx.com. Check out Dr. Phoenyx’s awesome natural hair care book If You Love It, It Will Grow - available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes. And don’t forget to say hello to the Doc on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!