How Often Should Your Bowels Move? Signs of Bowel Problems

Medically Reviewed on 11/30/2022
How Often Should Your Bowels Move
Pooping 3 times a day to 3 times a week is considered normal and healthy

Your bowel movements can indicate much about your health. Infrequent bowel movements can cause waste products and undigested food to clog up your system, which can be detrimental to your health.

Pooping 3 times a day to 3 times a week is considered normal and healthy.

What are the signs of bowel problems?

A sudden change in your bowel habits can indicate that something is wrong with your health:

  • Constipation may indicate you are not drinking enough water, eating enough fiber, or exercising enough. It can also be caused by a multivitamin or prescription that you are taking.
  • Loose stools can indicate a dietary intolerance, an allergic reaction to a medication, or colon inflammation. 

Some changes can indicate a hormonal malfunction (for example, thyroid disorder) or a more significant health issue, such as a blockage caused by cancer or a tumor. 

Poop color and smell can also indicate signs of bowel problems:

  • Color: Healthy poop naturally appears somewhat brown. Bilirubin, a pigment produced by the breakdown of old blood cells, is responsible for color. Any other color, such as yellow, clay, black, and especially red, may indicate a disorder.
  • Smell: Poop typically smells since it contains waste and toxins. However, healthy poop should not be extremely foul-smelling. Stinky poop can indicate poor digestion or the presence of medical conditions such as Crohn's disease or giardiasis.

If you notice significant changes in your bowel movements that last more than a few days, consult your doctor.

How can I have healthy bowel movements? 7 tips

1. Drink more water

  • When you are dehydrated, your system will extract fluids from the colon to support other bodily functions. This makes stools more difficult to pass.
  • Without adequate water, the digestive system cannot function properly, and stools become more difficult to pass, leading to constipation.

2. Stay physically active

  • Constipation can be avoided by regular physical exercise.
  • However, overexertion can result in gastrointestinal symptoms, such as flatulence and loose stools.
  • Sudden changes in your activity level can cause changes in intestinal hormone levels and blood flow, which can lead to diarrhea.
  • To prevent this, avoid ibuprofen, energy bars, and caffeine before exercising, and wear loose clothes that do not constrain your abdomen.

3. Watch your diet

  • Beneficial bacteria in the gut have a major impact on bowel health. Research studies have suggested that a high-fiber diet is essential for intestinal health because gut bacteria break down fiber into anti-inflammatory chemicals.
  • Conversely, diets heavy in salt, saturated fat, and red meat can increase the risk of inflammatory disorders. Researchers have reported that the risk of bowel cancer is high in communities that consume high amounts of red meat and inadequate fiber.

4. Take probiotics

  • Probiotics are live microorganisms that promote overall health by counteracting the effects of a bad diet, antibiotics, and stress.
  • When consumed daily, they can increase nutritional absorption, break down lactose, protect against inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS), and strengthen your immune system.
  • Low-fat yogurt or kefir are good sources of probiotics.

5. Avoid certain foods 

  • Keep a food journal and take note of any foods that cause symptoms.
  • Acidic foods, such as tomatoes, citrus fruits, and fizzy drinks, can cause heartburn
  • Wheat and onions can cause IBS.
  • If you cannot digest lactose (the sugar found in milk), you may experience gas and diarrhea after drinking milk or eating dairy products, such as cream, cheese, and yogurt. Avoid foods and beverages that aggravate your stomach issues.

6. Maintain a sleep schedule

  • Following a consistent sleep routine can contribute to having regular bowel movements. If you go to sleep and wake up at different times every day, it can confuse your digestive system.
  • A consistent routine helps you develop healthy circadian rhythms, which helps your digestive system establish regular bowel movements.

7. Manage stress

  • When stressed, your stomach produces neurotransmitters that can cause inflammation in the gut.
  • Exercise is an effective stress-reduction technique that can improve intestinal health and help you have healthy bowel habits.


Super Tips to Boost Digestive Health: Bloating, Constipation, and More See Slideshow
Medically Reviewed on 11/30/2022
Image Source: iStock image

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