Confusing Science About How Often We Should Poop
Why is it so difficult to get a straight answer about how often we should poop? Should knowing when we should have a bowel movement be like understanding rocket science?
The differences in opinion as to what is considered a normal number of bowel movements a day may stem from the limited amount of studies done on bowel movements, which are not definitive in their findings. One such study defined normal bowel movements being from one movement every few weeks or months to twenty-four movements in a day.
A more recent study defined normal bowel movements as defecating three times a week to three times a day. The researchers came up with this number by solely observing subjects bowel movements, and decided what normal because ninety-eight percent of the study’s subjects fell within this range. This didn’t mean this was the optimal amount of bowel movements you should have, it only meant that through observation this is the number they came up with.
Thirty-six percent of participants who were classified as having normal bowel movement reported bouts of urgency, forty-seven percent reported straining, and 46% reported incomplete bowel movements. Researchers concluded these issues were normal, when they were actually only normal for people eating low fiber diets.
People who eat a plant-based diet or close to it easily had three bowel movements daily without constipation or pain. The majority of rural Africans who eat primarily plant-based foods can have a bowel movement at any hour of the day on demand without any strain or pain.
Having multiple bowel movements throughout the day is the “real” normal and is protective of health. Pooping multiple times throughout the day is good for you.
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