What a ‘Normal’ Poop Pattern Looks Like, According to Gut Health Experts
Nothing can disrupt a workday quite like a case of the bubble guts or rabbit pellets. So, when your pooping practice begins to feel irregular, one way or another, it might be time to decipher what constitutes a normal poop pattern for you.
We all know that everybody poops, but beyond the biological necessity, so much is shrouded in mystery. Like, how often is normal to poop, what it should look like, and whether an underlying condition like IBS might be present. With all of these questions in mind, you may be wondering, Is my poop pattern normal? Well, Ella Dove, host of The Well+Good Podcast, certainly is. In this week's episode, she chats with gastroenterologist Will Bulsiewicz, MD, and registered dietitian Brigitte Zeitlin, CDN, to get the 411 on going number two.
Listen to the full episode here:
A big takeaway? What has become a normal pooping pattern for you could deviate from what many doctors and dietitians want to see from their patients. For instance, if you believe you're not pooping enough, you might want to think again; Dr. Bulsiewicz says pooping several times a day isn't necessarily a sign of good gut function. In fact, you find yourself pooping quite a bit, he says you might counterintuitively be constipated and simply not evacuating your system properly to completion.
“There are some people who can poop five times a day, and every single one of those bowel movements is a little chicken nugget," Dr. Bulsiewicz says. "And when you combine those five bowel movements into one, they still don't account for a complete bowel. They're still backed up.”
"The window to your gut health, the most clear window, is your bowel movement.” —gastroenterologist Will Bulsiewicz, MD, gastroenterologist
Zeitlin adds that on the other hand, having one good poop a day can indeed be perfectly healthy. Rather than examining frequency in isolation when considering whether your poop pattern is normal, she suggests looking to your weekly routine.
"I do have clients who come to me who are pooping sometimes every other day, sometimes only twice a week," says Zeitlin. "One of the first questions I ask when we start working together is: What is your current bowel movement routine?”
What does she mean by "routine?" Well, besides keeping an eye on the frequency of your bowel movements, you should also be tracking the consistency of your poops. Are you having several "good" poops in a row, usually? Are you having to strain more often than not? If so, are you struggling with constipation often, or just after an irregular day of eating? Tracking these bowel movement patterns, Dr. Bulsiewicz adds, is the first step to managing (and understanding) your own gut health.
“Gut health is connected to our digestion, our immune system, our metabolism, our hormones, our mood, our brain health, our energy levels,” says Dr. Bulsiewicz. “These are all very important, powerful things in our lives. The window to your gut health, the most clear window, is your bowel movement.”
To learn more about how to get your gut health on track, what healthy stool really looks like, and how to combat poop problems before they begin, listen to the full podcast episode here.
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