We all do it. It's perfectly natural. And although we always giggle when talking about poop, it's no laughing matter when our bowels don't move like they should.
Having healthy, consistent bowel movements can make a significant impact on overall health, including mood. So what makes the perfect poop? And how can you get there? Follow these 10 tried-and-true strategies.
Drink enough water
It's important to do so for many reasons, but getting adequate hydration throughout the day is essential for organs and cells to function like they should—and that includes the digestive tract. Use this calculator to estimate how much water you should be drinking daily, then invest in a cool refillable water bottle to stay on track.
Eat more fiber
Fiber acts similar to a pipe cleaner, scrubbing your digestive tract and soaking up water as it moves through the body. If you aren't getting enough fiber in your diet, make sure to incorporate it slowly into your daily intake, whether through a supplement or by eating fruits and vegetables like strawberries, apples, broccoli, and carrots. Too much fiber too quickly can backfire, resulting in constipation.
Add nuts and grains
Also be sure to incorporate healthy-fat-filled nuts and grains to literally add mass to your poop, which then stimulates bowel movements. Almonds, pistachios, sunflower seeds, and whole-grain bread are solid options. Here's a more comprehensive list of foods that encourage healthy, regular bowel movements.
Try fermented foods
Probiotic-rich foods like kefir, kimchi, and sauerkraut—as well as fermented beverages like kombucha—naturally have fiber and add good bacteria to the intestines, which can help produce healthier poops.
Remove the junk
Cut back on processed foods, which can cause intestinal discomfort ranging from constipation to diarrhea. Alcohol works in much the same way, often causing loose stools and more uncomfortable bowel movements. You don't have to eliminate them entirely, but reducing your intake can certainly help.
Move around more
Moving your body helps move stool through your intestines. Even walking can help promote this motion, which can lead to healthier bowel movements. If you're just starting out, aim for one to two 10-minute walks per day.
Get vitamin D
Take those walks in the sunshine for some much-needed vitamin D, which also has been shown to help stimulate bowel movements. According to this study, 82 percent of participants with irritable bowel syndrome did not have adequate vitamin D in their systems. Scientists believe it could be because vitamin D can help increase good bacteria, similar to probiotics.
Use a stool
Heard of the Squatty Potty? It's an absolute game changer. The helpful stool elevates your legs just enough to put you in the correct posture for an easy, stress-free poop. It's how nature intended us to go. Plus, it can help prevent hemorrhoids, which are largely caused by stress from pushing too hard during a bowel movement.
Don't hold it in
Speaking of pushing too hard, this tends to happen after holding in a bowel movement for too long. While it's tempting to wait until the perfect moment, it actually might instead cause constipation (hence the pushing and the hemorrhoids). Avoid holding it in, and listen to your body. When it has to go, it has to go.
Be consciously aware
Listening to your body also involves taking a peek in the toilet post-poop. This can give you a better idea of consistency and whether your bowel movements are normal. Use this handy poop chart to see whether things look good or you should talk to your doctor.