How To Get Your Bowels Moving

How to get your bowels moving isn't necessarily the best topic to talk about over dinner, but ways to get your bowels moving and keep them moving is really quite important. You may ask, “Why am I experiencing this?" or "What can I do about it?”  Fortunately, there are several things you can do to eliminate the inconvenience and discomfort you may be experiencing. Knowing a little about how the bowels work can help.

Constipation is when people typically have three or fewer bowel movements per week. Constipation and bowel irregularity are two primary causes, making it difficult to get your bowels moving. Our body takes water and nutrients from the food we eat as it passes through our digestive tract. What remains is stool, that must be eliminated. As muscle contractions in our intestines move the stool through, if it’s hard and dry, it can be painful to pass. If it doesn’t have enough bulk, the intestines can’t squeeze the stool along its path, which also causes pain. You can, however, learn how to get your bowels moving regularly and naturally.

  1. It's possible to get your bowels moving simply by moving them when you have the urge. Your body knows what it needs. You’re bowels won't move regularly or smoothly if you ignore or resist the urge to have a bowel movement. Set aside a little time, (perhaps right after breakfast, or lunch), to treat yourself to some personal time. Even if you have to get up a little earlier, it will be worth it, and consistency is often the key.
  2. Another essential key to getting your bowels moving is to drink plenty of fluids (ideally water). Look out for caffeine—it acts as a diuretic, and
    dehydrates your body. Your goal should be to gradually increase your intake to six to eight 8-oz glasses per day.
  3. Eat more fresh and raw fruits and vegetables, and limit foods high in fat and sugar, sweets, cheese and processed foods.
  4. Your goal is to get your bowels moving regularly, so make it a priority to increase your dietary fiber. Do this gradually. Include whole grains, especially unprocessed wheat bran, and beans (kidney, navy, pinto and etc.) They’re an excellent source of fiber. Prunes, dates and figs also provide fiber, and they act as a natural laxative. Many have found a small glass (4 oz.) of prune juice each morning or night to be effective. (Note: Over-the-counter or prescription laxatives should be taken with caution, and not long-term. Overuse can increase your constipation, and may even damage your bowels. The exception is bulk-forming laxatives, which add water and bulk to your stools. Taken with plenty of water, these can be used every day.)
  5. Another essential tip to getting your bowels moving is exercise. Don’t be afraid to move that body. Whether you decide to join a gym, begin jogging,
    walking, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or parking towards the end of the parking lot, your body will thank you.

Pay attention to your body. Don’t be afraid to talk to your family doctor and ask him if any medicines you’re taking can cause constipation.
Talk to him if constipation is new and unusual for you, if you have abdominal pain, have lost weight without any reason, have blood in your
stools or if you have constipation for three weeks or more despite at-home treatment, such as diet changes.

In general, constipation and irregularity can be reduced and even eliminated if you’re patient and stick to it. Every person’s body is unique, so find
what works for you. It’s not rocket science. It simply takes a little effort, and the desire to feel better. Take these suggestions and make them
your own. You’ll find a renewed sense of energy, health and well-being. It’s easier than you think, and it’s achievable – simply by learning how to get
your bowels moving.


American Academy of Family Physicians
Constipation Health Services


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