5 Tips For A Perfect Poo

Constipation is uncomfortable, but did you also know it weakens your pelvic floor? Straining and pushing when you poo can lead to bladder or bowel leakage, prolapse, and haemorrhoids. Here are five simple tips for a perfect poo. Trust us, they work. Your bowel will thank you for it.
 

Tip 1: Eat Plenty Of Fibre

Fibre is found in vegetables, fruits, beans (legumes), nuts, seeds and cereals (breakfast cereals, bread, pasta and rice). We should be aiming for 25-30g of fibre each day. This is a lot of fibre! 
 
To help get enough fibre in your diet, aim for:
  • 5-6 serves of vegetables (1 serve is ½ cup vegetables or 1 cup salad) 
  • 2 serves of fruit (fruits that our bowels love include kiwifruit, figs, prunes and dates) 
  • Wholemeal / wholegrain options over white (eg. breads, pasta, rice)
  • Including beans, nuts and seeds in your diet 
A sudden increase in fibre can lead to bloating, cramps and wind, so make sure you increase your fibre slowly.  In some people, such as those with a ‘sluggish gut’ (slow colonic transit), having lots of fibre can make constipation worse. If you have tried increasing your fibre and it hasn’t worked for you, you should seek advice from a health professional such as a Dietician.
 

Tip 2: Drink Enough Water

Fibre and water work together to keep our bowels moving well. If you increase your fibre but don’t drink enough fluid, constipation can get worse. 
 
Fluid can include water, fruit juice, tea, coffee, milk, soup, smoothies, and yogurt.  There is no magic rule about how much fluid we should drink, as each person is different. However, a common sense approach for a healthy person is to have a drink with meals, have a drink between meals, and more if you are thirsty. If you are exercising or the weather is very hot you may need more. 
 
To read more about how much you should be drinking, you might be interested in our ‘Busting Myths About Water Intake’ article. 
 

Tip 3: Posture Matters On The Toilet

Our bodies are built to poo in a ‘squat’ position. In cave man times, humans would squat down to poo, and although we now like to sit on nice clean toilets, our bowels still work best if we try and replicate this squatting position.  Squatting changes the angle of the pelvis and helps the muscles around the bowel relax to help with emptying.
 
The best position:
  1. Sit on the toilet seat, and lean forward with a straight back
  2. Pop your feet flat on a low stool if you have one 
  3. Relax your stomach muscles and let your belly bulge forward 
  4. Breathe slowly and try not to push or strain. 
The mechanics of doing a poo are quite complex, and sometimes the muscles (pelvic floor and abdominals) don’t work together properly.  Pelvic Floor Physios can help people get this right. 
 

Tip 4: Listen To Your Bowel When It’s Talking To You

Your bowel will tell you when it’s time to poo, and it’s important not to ignore it! 
 
When you feel a bowel urge, that means that your bowel is full, and a sphincter on the inside of your bottom has relaxed, meaning you are ready to poo. This sphincter will usually stay relaxed for around 10 minutes. If you ignore this (for example, if you are out and don’t want to go in a public toilet) this sphincter will close again, and the urge to poo will go away. We usually won’t get another bowel urge until later that day or the next day. 
 
As poo passes though the intestine, water is drawn out. If the poo is sitting in the intestine for a longer time, more and more water is drawn out, making the poo harder and harder. 
 
Listening to your bowel and going when it wants to go makes your poo much softer and much easier to pass.  
 

Tip 5: Don’t Forget To Exercise

General exercise is very important for keeping your bowels moving. Exercise and movement work like a massage on your bowel, helping poo move through the intestine.  Something as simple as taking a walk every day can make a big difference. 
 

Don’t Put Up With Constipation 

It is normal to poo anywhere from 3 times per day to 3 times per week, provided your poo is soft and formed, easy to pass and you don’t need to strain.  If this isn’t happening, our Pelvic Floor Physios can help - we specialise in treating bowel problems. Fixing constipation will make you feel better and will also help protect your bladder and bowel for the future.