January 06, 2009

Taking Care of Number 2


There are a lot of good blogs out there about health and wellness, food and exercise. But you know what I've yet to come across? A blog post about something incredibly important to everyone, from babies to senior citizens, meat eaters and raw vegans. I've never seen a blog post about having a Proper Bowel Movement (PBM).

Yikes! I said it. That's right. Poo. Shit. Crap. Dookie. Whatever you call it, or maybe shy away from calling it, it happens. Right? And it's also an extremely important part of good overall health that seems to get ignored. Yet we have an aisle full of Pepto and Immodium at the drugstore so I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who has suffered from digestive difficulties.

So what constitutes a PBM? I'm no doctor and everyone is different. But here are some general guidelines I've picked up along the way.

Frequency
Three times per day is great. Two times per day is good. Once is ok. Any less than that, consider yourself constipated. Why is that bad? Your body is full of toxins. ("Toxins" are a nice way of saying putrefied foodstuffs and chemicals).

Size, shape and texture
A PBM should be soft, but formed, and easy to move. A nice medium brown is what we're going for (unless you've been eating beets or other colorful foods). Finally, a PBM should be pretty large. A newborn baby has a small yet perfectly clean colon – what comes out is still sizable. If your BMs are skinny or small amounts, your insides are clogged up. This can make you feel tired and even lead to disease. Putrefied food wants out. End of story.

So, obviously our bodies don't always move things along like we wish they would. When was the last time you had 3 PBMs in one day?? Ok, you don't have to answer that in the comments unless you really want to...

There are lots of colon cleanses out there, things like hydrotherapy, laxatives and enemas. I personally have not tried any of these so I can't speak to how they work. In my mind, it's always better to at least start with natural, common sense techniques. Here are some things you can do to create PBMs for yourself. Start now and you could see a difference in just a few days.

1. Eat lots more fresh fruits, vegetables and beans, especially things like fiber-rich kale. Eat plenty of RAW items.

2. Eat less meat and dairy. Eliminate greasy, processed and sugary foods. Pretend your insides are metal pans and your intestines are doing the dishes. Eat things that clean up easily. (Hint: it's not animal fat) And as an older gentleman I used to know would say "cheese is a plug." He was right.

3. Try adding ground flax seed to your food. It's got good fat to keep things inside well-oiled, in addition to extra fiber. Start with 1/4 tsp. every day and see how it goes. Also try drinking hot water first thing in the mornings, maybe with a little lemon.

4. Kick caffeine. Our adrenal glands are necessary for PBMs, so you may be becoming dependent on your latte habit for your morning movement. Let your adrenal glands work as they are supposed to and you'll have many more PBMs to, er, look forward to.

5. Drink plenty of water. Drinking after meals instead of before helps because you are not diluting the acid and flora of digestion.

6. Exercise. Movement on the outside makes movement on the inside. Literally. In yoga, twists and inversions are especially helpful.

6. Finally, just notice each day the quality of your output. Gross as it seems, it's an excellent indicator of your overall health. Plus, it's hard to be Little Miss Sunshine when your insides are tied in knots.

I'm sure by now your New Year's Resolution is for awesome PBMs! I mean, how could you not be psyched about this??? If you have any additional tips for natural laxative alternatives, please leave in the comments.

15 comments:

Lauren said...

I have gotten great results from probiotic supplements which populate my GI tract with lots of "good" bacteria - did you know that the gut contains roughly 3 pounds of bacteria?

karen@cook4seasons.com said...

Have I told you I love you lately? Gawd, this is good. The only other addition to the list might be extra vitamin C. And I do mean extra. This time of year it's particularly good to take to keep the ol' immune system going...and the rest of your body, too:)

amandalouden said...

This is great. HA HA! Thank you for not taking a picture of the....

Jenn said...

Lol! Hey, it is important!

Kate and Andrew said...

Here's "Everybody Poops" from Oprah's doctor:
http://www.oprah.com/slideshow/health/nutrition/slideshow1_ss_yourbody_digestion

:o)

paradigmshifted said...

Um, three times a day is a lot. :) And every other day can be fine. Less frequent than that (especially with a sense of "fullness") and you are constipated. Still, if it is regular on any sort of schedule, it's not necessarily bad...


I found that my best bowel movements actually came when I was in Nicaragua. Everything was cooked in oil. Greased the insides nicely, particularly when you add in all the fiber from the rice and beans and corn. Sigh. I miss that.
Off to take some milk of magnesia...

Michelle said...

Lauren--i did not know that, but i do know that the gut has as many or more nerve endings than the brain. we should do digestion trivia pursuit.

karen--really, vitamin C does the trick for you? i haven't heard that one before. thanks!

amanda--and thank YOU for not sending in yours!

jenn--you bet! thanks for stopping by, as always.

kate--that's a great link, thank you. i actually remember hearing oprah talking about poop some years ago. An S curve though, really? Sounds like an aesthetic choice. ha!

cook4seasons said...

Vitamin C works if you increase the dosage to the point of loose, well - you know...and magnesium does the same thing. That's why Milk of Mag works, but I gag on that stuff.

Not Another Omnivore said...

One Activia and one Fiber One bar a day, in the morning, plus some sort of exercise and I'm good to go.

I would say the Fiber One bar and the exercise make more of a difference, but still...I stand by my remedy.

Oh, and I love BMs...ask anyone, and I'm glad you addressed them!

NAOmni

Jenn M. said...

i just put maybe three tablespoons of flax on my oatmeal. after i did it, i thought of your nutmeg post and checked the bottle to find the serving size for flax is 1/2 tspn. so that was smart, and there's no turning back, i ate it anyway. i'll keep you posted...

i second the vitamin C, hot water w/ lemon and yoga twists...

Matt Shook said...

Good post on an often overlooked topic. A few years ago I started drinking smoothies/eating smoothie bowls with granola every morning...after I added flax seed and wheat germ to the mix I really started getting great PBMs.

Christine said...

Eggplant. When things are moving kinda slow at the junction, I slice up some eggplant, brush it with olive oil and roast it. It's delicious and it takes care of that problem quickly.

Michelle said...

Thanks for all the input everyone!
@ paradigm--I know 3x daily sounds crazy but in an ideal situation 3 meals would equal 3 PBMs. I'm not sure how many people ACTUALLY experience this, but...

@Christine--you win for most unlikely answer. Eggplant?? That's great, I LOVE eggplant :-)

Hanlie said...

I'm twittering a link to this post!

Since I've changed to a predominantly plant-based whole foods diet with plenty of raw fruit and vegetables, including green smoothies, plus daily servings of beans or lentils and oatmeal (not together!), I have 2-3 bowel movements a day. And they are high volume! I love it! It really feels as if my body is working properly.

I've had a few sessions of colonic irrigation in the past during periods of detoxification. They're wonderful! But yes, more than anything diet and exercise are key to digestive health.

Elizabeth Jarrard said...

Haha what a great post!!! That's so true about the coffee! I love the suggestions-Thank you!