Healthy Bowel Movements
I am certain that when you wake up in the morning, thinking about your bowel movement is not the first priority of your day.
Because there are so many other priorities in our lives, it is no surprise that many people do not know what a “normal” bowel movement is.
Well if you fit into this category, relax, because there really is no one single definition of a normal bowel movement. There many different varieties of what would be considered normal, and it is important to note that each person’s regularity is going to be unique.
Each individual becomes comfortable with what their “normal” bowel moment pattern is and they know when there are changes that alter that pattern into something unusual or different that would signal to them that they need to consult their physician.
The simplest explanation of digestion is that it is the process in which ingested food is broken down in the alimentary canal into a form that can be absorbed and assimilated by the tissues of the body. Digestion includes processes such as chewing and grinding food into smaller pieces in the mouth, as well as the chemical action of digestive enzymes and other substances, such as bile and different acids in the stomach and the further chemical breakdown in the small and the large intestines.
To be completely accurate, chemical digestion begins in the mouth with the action of saliva on food, but most of it takes place in the stomach and small intestine where the food is subjected to gastric juice, pancreatic juice, and “succus entericus” or, as it is commonly called, intestinal juice.
When the food finally arrives in the large intestine, the colon, digestion is pretty much complete and the process of dehydrating the waste before expulsion from the body is carried out. The colon has no digestive function but it absorbs large amounts of water and electrolytes from the undigested food which comes out of the small intestine.
There four main parts of the large intestine. They are the ascending, transverse, descending, and sigmoid colons.
These are the sections of the colon that prepare what is left of the food for the bowel movement. The muscles that are part of the colon contract in waves and move the feces towards the rectum for expulsion. These contractions of the muscles in rhythmic intervals are called “peristaltic movements”.
Because of this variable, it is not correct to think that one bowel movement a day is an indication of a healthy and normally functioning bowel. Things that give us a better indication of changes in our bowel patterns are patterns of recurrence, color and the oder of the feces.
Constipation is a sign of trouble in the colon. In effect, constipation is hard, dry, lumpy stools that are difficult or painful to pass that may be accompanied by bloating and discomfort.
Some of the causes of constipation are chronic dehydration, lack of exercise, and a a diet lacking in fiber. If you see a marked change in the length of time between bowel movements and experience any of the signs listed above, constipation is most likely the culprit.
Changes in the odor of your feces is another signal that all is not well within your digestive system. A simple remedy may be a change in diet, but dramatic odor changes can be a warning sign of infection or disease in the system and you should consult your doctor in order to eliminate those possibilities.
The color of the feces is important as well and dramatic changes to the color may indicate that there is a problem with your intestinal tract.
I am sure that most of you have been surprised by your feces after having eaten a large portion of beets. That may surprise you for a moment, but it is not a problem. Normally your feces should be brown in color. If the color is pale, or too dark, this could be a warning that something is not normal in your intestine.
Why is your feces normally brown? There are two important bile pigments secreted from the gallbladder that are responsible for the color of your feces. First is Bilirubin, which is orange or yellowish in color and the second is Biliverdin, which is green in color. When they are mixed with the intestinal contents they combine to give the brown color to the feces.
Consistency of your feces is another measure that is warning sign of changes in the health of your colon. Your feces should be not too hard and not too soft. Drastic changes in consistency should be noted and addressed if they continue for more that one or two bowel movements.
The simple signs mentioned above will enable you to monitor your colons health with out too much trouble. Nine times out of ten, a change in diet, more physical exercise and adding the correct volume of water to your system will correct the problem. If these remedies do not solve the problem, then you need to consult with your doctor in order to look for structural problems in the colon.