Poop … a subject we are embarrassed to talk about despite the fact it’s a natural body habit and that many people struggle with healthy bowel movements. What’s more, so many people don’t even pay attention to what comes out the other end, but it’s your single most obvious indicator to your gut health. If you’ve visited an Ayurvedic Practitioner, you will know that we talk in detail about our elimination since it is one of the cornerstones to maintaining a healthy digestive system and overall wellness.
Due to our busy lives and erratic eating habits, many of us now have varied bowel habits. Abnormal has become normal. Gas, constipation, pain, bleeding, mucous and loose motions are all signs of an unhealthy digestive system, but we are so used living with bad patterns that we almost don’t consider them to be an issue. An ideal stool should be soft and formed and it should pass easily. You can refer to the Bristol stool chart, to check where your bowel habits fit, and share this with your practitioner if you struggle to be descriptive.
Regular bowel movements help to clear toxic accumulations and feel lighter in the body and mind. A person with healthy movements will experience several or all of the below:
An un-stimulated urge to evacuate at least once a day – usually first thing in the morning (ideal time)
The urge to evacuate at a regular time daily
Motions that are soft and formed
Motions that have no profuse odour
Stools that are medium brown-yellowish colour
Stools that float and do not sink
A feeling of satisfied evacuation
No discomfort or pain on evacuation except a mild pressure
Does this sound like you?
Our bowels habits can shed light on your mind-body constitution (prakruti) and will determine characteristics of healthy and unhealthy bowels specific to you, contact your practitioner for more help on this.
In UK, constipation is a growing concern; in 2016 it was reported that constipation cost the NHS £145 million a year. In 2014 and 2015 more than 66,000 patients were admitted to hospital for issues related to constipation. Reports also show that around 6.5 million people in the UK have health issues of the bowel. So many of these reported cases may have been prevented by recognising and healing the early signs of digestive disturbances. So what are the signs you can look out for?
Infrequent bowel motion
A reduced urge to pass stools
Difficulty, strain and pain on passing stools
Abdominal bloating, distension and pain
Small, hard, dry and often sticky stools
A feeling of incomplete evacuation
Head and body aches
Bad breath and coating on the tongue
Loss of appetite
Though many people resort to laxatives, this is not a long-term solution to ongoing cases of constipation as our body can become resistant to them and they stop having the desired effect. Small changes to our diet and lifestyle can start to address the root of the problem and encourage the body’s natural functions to reboot.
Constipation is predominantly triggered by an imbalance in the vata dosha and since the colon is considered ‘home base’ for vata, it’s no wonder that constipation is triggered first when we are out of balance.
Here are some tips to encourage a daily morning bowel movement:
Avoid heavy, late-night meals and irregular mealtimes
Avoid cold, heavy, dry and raw foods; favour warm foods and drinks
Take a squat position to encourage bowels (ashwini mudra) in the morning or use a stool to raise legs when using the toilet
Stay well hydrated and drink warm lemon water in the morning and liquorice tea during the day
Be patient with your body – it is trying to create a new habit
Use a toilet with good ventilation, space and privacy – be comfortable
Give yourself a clockwise abdominal massage (you can try castor oil or a vata balancing oil)
Focus on the task at hand (no phone, magazines or any other distraction while on the loo) – call in conscious pooping if you like!
Do not suppress urges – if you need to go, then go! That means going, even if it is at work
Eat a whole food diet of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, lentils and seeds and increase soluble fibre (citrus fruits, apples, peas, barley, psyllium and oat bran etc.) with some insoluble fibre
Avoid incompatible foods combinations
Eat slowly, chew well, eat with all your sensory organs (conscious eating)
Eat only if hungry and keep regulated mealtimes.
Fasting and giving the digesting system a rest once a week can have huge benefits – Consult your practitioner about fasting for your body type and season.
Drink a 50ml/50ml mix of prune juice and warm water with two pinches of rock salt to encourage a motion (the salt acts as an activator)
Take two triphala capsules with warm water before bed the evening before (order yours at Triveda – use discount code: GEETAVARA5OFF)
Undertake ongoing regular exercise – morning is the best time
Maintain a diet according to your mind-body type (prakruti)
Oil based Ayurvedic enemas could be considered in certain cases.
Manage and reduce your stress through breathing and meditation practices