- Three ways you can control the quality of your bowel movements are how you sit, what you eat, and exercise.
- Making changes to your life in these categories can improve your digestive health.
- But always consult with your doctor before any significant changes to your diet or lifestyle.
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Following is a transcript of the video.
There’s honestly nothing more satisfying than a good poop. On the flip side, a bad poop can ruin your day. You know what I’m talking about. Too hard, too soft, too sudden, not soon enough. If this isn’t ringing any bells, congrats on being the world’s only perfect pooper! A title to wear with pride.
For the rest of us, we have to work at it. The good news is we have science on our side. There are a bunch of things we can do to smooth out the kinks in our digestive system, and some of them are very literal. But real quick, let us introduce you to the Bristol stool scale, a handy-dandy chart listing the different types of poop your body can make. They range from type one, hard lumps, to type seven, totally liquid. When it comes to No. 2, you actually want to be a type three or four. Anything before indicates constipation; anything after gets closer to diarrhea. Depending on where you land on the scale, there are a number of things you can do to get that coveted smooth snake. Let’s start with short-term solutions. [mooing] Mooing like a cow, or making a similar noise if you aren’t feeling particularly bovine, can help reduce straining. You’ll want to lean forward with your elbows on your knees while you do it. The idea is to open up your belly and get yourself in a more efficient pooping position.
You see, sitting toilets were designed all wrong. Sitting straight up with your feet planted on the ground actually makes it harder to squeeze one out. Too much straining and pushing can lead to hemorrhoids, most of all, but sometimes even prolapse. Thanks to how our bodies are built, we’re better off in a squat. It’s all in the gut. Look at the angle of her rectum when she stands up. It’s bent at about 80 degrees right where it meets the anal canal, fittingly named the anorectal angle. Sort of like kinking a hose, this bend helps you control your bowels, along with the muscles in the same area.
When you sit, that angle unfolds to about 100 degrees, and squatting opens it even further. Opening up that pathway makes it easier for stuff to slide on through. But even though our porcelain thrones aren’t suited for squatting, there are ways to adapt. You can throw your feet up on a stool or even just a couple of rolls of toilet paper. Or the dedicated can buy a product specifically made for this purpose, like the Squatty Potty or Nature’s Platform. One study followed over 50 healthy poopers through 1,000 collective bowel movements using the Squatty Potty. The experiment started with a two-week control period of unassisted pooping.
Then, participants spent another two weeks using the Squatty Potty. 90% of the participants strained less, and over 70% spent less time on the toilet. Speaking of, we are very sorry, but put down your phone. Even you, person who’s watching this on the can right now. Taking your phone or a book to the bathroom just encourages you to stay in there longer, which, again, leads back to straining and putting excess pressure on your rectum and anus. Getting up off the toilet can help you in more ways than one.
Generally the more you move, the more you poop. Exercising can jostle around your innards, helping shake up food, gas, and waste to move through your system. That means less time for your lower intestine to absorb water from your stool. And wet, soft poops are easier to pass. So going for a quick jog could be helpful if you’re constipated. Not so much if you have diarrhea. What you eat can also help. Yep, we’re talking fiber. Fiber is helpful no matter which end of the stool scale you’re on, but not all fiber is created equal.
There are actually two main types: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber dissolves in water, turning gooey and spongy. It comes from things like fruit flesh, root vegetables, and cooked grains. This stuff takes its time sliding through your digestive track, which helps regulate movements. You want to start introducing this type of fiber to your diet if you’re hovering around a type six or seven. Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, mostly keeps its shape when wet. This fiber from fruit skins, leafy greens, and the outer layer of most whole grains adds to the bulk of the stool. It puts pressure on your colon walls and stimulates movement. So this is what you’re looking for to fix a type one or two, but you don’t want to load up on either fiber all at once.
First, you want to suss out if fiber is really your issue at all. If you normally eat plenty of insoluble fiber but you’re still constipated, then more probably isn’t gonna help. And too much fiber too quickly can make you bloated or gassy. When in doubt, go see your doctor. They might recommend probiotics, which can help reduce bloating and gas as well as constipation. When you first start taking them, you might end up in type six or seven territory for a few days, but that should go away. And if adding stuff to your diet doesn’t help, maybe try taking stuff away. Dairy, caffeine, meats, spicy foods, alcohol, grease, certain fruits, and artificial sweeteners have all been known to cause diarrhea. Cutting all or some of that stuff could help relieve those bowel-control issues.
Keeping a food diary to find connections between snacks and symptoms is also recommended, and that way you don’t have to give up on all the good stuff at once. If you’re not the world’s only perfect pooper, taking the perfect poop isn’t always easy. But it should never be as hard as a type one. With these tips and tricks in your back pocket, you are well on your way to the throne. Now go eat, drink, and jog your way to the best poop of your life. You earned it, champ.
Everybody deserves a perfect poo, but always make sure to check with your doctor before you make significant changes to your diet or lifestyle. But you could probably moo all you want without a doctor’s note. And subscribe below if you want more ways to optimize your life with science.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in September 2020.