By: Monika Ax, Nutrition Peer Counselor, UC Davis Fitness and Wellness Center
Hey Healthy Aggies! I know you love reading about different health topics and learning new ways to improve your daily lifestyle, but today I’m here to talk about something a little more personal, and a little nastier…going number 2! It is something that EVERYBODY does (surprise), but for some reason, people are too shy to talk about. Doing your business is one of the most important things you can do in the day for your body. We need to poop every day to get rid of wastes and toxins! If you are continuously having trouble in the toilet, it might be your body’s way of telling you something is wrong in your diet or lifestyle. The average person goes to the bathroom 1-3 times a day (sometimes more if you’re lucky), and the health of your cycle can tell you how well your digestive track is working.
For those of you that struggle with a irregular cycle, do not fret! Ditch the coffee and laxatives, because I’m here to give you some tips and tricks that have been proven to get your digestive tract back on track.
Tip 1: Eat more fiber!
It is recommended that you get 25-30 grams of fiber a day from your foods. However, the average adult is only getting about 15 grams of fiber. Fiber is a weird nutrient because we don’t actually digest it, but it aids in getting your digestive tract flowing. Soluble fiber (oats, whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans…) dissolves with water and helps lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels. Insoluble fiber (bran, lentils, vegetables) absorb water and bulk up your digestive tract, which helps to get things moving along. Try switching to whole grain products over refined grains, and consuming WHOLE fiber from fruits, vegetables, beans and lentils.
Tip 2: Drink more water!
Going off of tip one, it is important to make sure you are drinking enough water every day to actually get your GI tract moving. Otherwise, all the food/ toxins/ fiber will just get clogged up inside you. Water helps flush out toxins and push your stool right on out! Try drinking 8 oz. of water 30 minutes before a meal, and 30 minutes after. Avoid drinking water during meals because this can cause unwanted bloating!
Tip 3: Get more sleep, and keep a regular sleeping pattern!
Our bodies run on clockwork. For most people, certain times a day are associated with meal time. The same goes for our digestive tracts! If you are consistently getting enough sleep, and going to bed and waking up at the same time, your body and digestive tract will catch on to that. You will start to develop a regular bathroom schedule, as your body knows when it wants to go. If you throw off your sleeping pattern, your digestive tract will be thrown off as well. A well-rested body makes everything function better!
Tip 4: Get moving!
If you’re sedentary all day, it’s more likely that your tract will get backed up. If you get outside, jump around, run, or do any type of physical activity. It will help to get your engine running! Not to mention it will help you feel better all around. Try going on a walk first thing in the morning, or mid after-noon if you’re feeling a little bloated.
Give these tips and tricks a try! I can assure you that your body and gut will thank me later.