3 Myths about Diarrhoea and Constipation

It seems that IBS is becoming more and more common in our society, or maybe it is a catch-phrase that is over-used? Do you have diarrhoea or constipation? It is not as clearly defined as you may think but one thing is for certain: bowel problems are on the increase in a big way, so I thought I’d try to dispel some of the myths about diarrhoea and constipation in this article.

Myth Number 1: If I have watery bowel movements, I must have diarrhoea, right?

Wrong! Whilst this may be true, if you look at the picture on this post of a very healthy colon, you will see that it is not a nice, neat tube like a hose pipe!  It is full of nooks and crannies so when your poo passes along it, there is a strong likelihood that bits will get stuck in the folds and eventually clog it up.  The longer this goes on, the more compacted it gets and the harder it is to fix.  The problem is then made worse by the fact that one of the roles of the colon is to decide how much water to absorb, so if the walls are blocked up then it cannot absorb enough water to moisten the compacted poo and this situation rapidly deteriorates.  What you end up with is fluids whooshing through and solid bits being left behind.  Logically you would then assume you have diarrhoea and you dash for the meds to ‘bind you up again’!  Yikes!

Myth Number 2: if I am constipated I just need a laxative to get the poo moving again…?

Not necessarily!  While some people who are elderly or chronically ill may benefit from laxatives as a short-term fix, it is a matter of balancing out which is the lesser of two evils.  There can be many reasons for your constipation and it could be a matter of you not drinking enough water.  Most people know that they need to eat a lot of fibre to help empty the bowels, but many do not know just how much water is needed to actually flush the fibre through the system.  Rather than the drastic purgative action of laxatives, it may be that you just need plain old water to get moving again!

Myth No 3: I can only improve my bowel movements by eating better and drinking more water.

That’s a great start, but did you ever consider that walking, running or even yoga uses so many of your core muscles that it helps to stimulate peristalsis which is the colon’s natural way of propelling the poo along the intestines.  For the more advanced yoga practitioners, there are even certain asanas that will stimulate bowel movements, which is surely a better way than using a laxative!  Think of it as an ‘internal massage’ as your body twists, bends and contorts its way to detoxification!

If you experience diffiulty passing a bowel movement, simply get a toddler stepping stool for toilet training, sit on the loo and put your feet up on the stool.  This changes the angle of your colon and makes it much easier to use gravity to help relieve yourself of the constipation!

Yes, that was one of the useful facts I learned while travelling in a country where a lot of Arabs lived and I wondered why there were muddy shoe prints on the toilet seats anywhere I went.  I was told that they, along with many other cultures, ‘crouch’ rather than sit on the toilet to facilitate the bowel movement and hence keep the colon healthier!


For anyone who wants to know more, I can thoroughly recommend this highly entertaining read by Julia Enders.

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