The topic today may be one that’s a little embarrassing for you to discuss, but it’s important to your health: keeping regular.
If you’re wondering about your “regularity,” you’re definitely not alone. What frequency and quality of bowel movement are considered average and healthy is something that has been discussed at length—and worried about—for a long time.
How to Tell If You’re Really “Regular”
Some people contend that frequency and consistency are a personal thing, determined by the individual. And yes, that’s true—but only to a degree. For the most part, you want to be getting rid of waste roughly every 24 hours.
You might only notice your frequency of bowel movements when you haven’t gone in a while or you’re going non-stop. Otherwise, it’s probably not something you spend too much time thinking about on a daily basis. You go when you go, and it’s only a cause for concern when something is out of the ordinary, right?
But when you think about the entire process, it becomes a little clearer why you should pay attention to the time between eating and having a bowel movement—otherwise known as “transit time.”
Transit time involves the span between eating, digesting, extracting, and distributing nutrients, and then getting rid of the waste. Of course, it’s very hard to tell how long a specific meal takes to go through you because, for the most part, the color and texture of your bowel movements is likely relatively consistent. However, there are some foods that leave some clear evidence.
If you want to know your transit time, do the “beet test.”
Take the Beet Test
To successfully accomplish the beet test, you need to eat raw beets, not the pickled ones that come in a can. Head to the produce department, pick up a raw beet, take it home, and either grate it for a salad topper or over a piece of chicken, or bake it at 350 degrees Fahrenheit in your oven for about an hour, until it’s tender enough to easily pierce with a fork.
After you eat it, pay attention to the color of your bowel movements. Don’t worry if there is some red in your urine; that happens when you eat beets. When you see red in your bowel movement, you’ll know your transit time. If it takes longer than 24 hours for the red to turn up, then your body is taking too long to move waste out. This can become a problem because it can become painful and potentially lead to poor overall health.
How to Improve Your Regularity
If you need to speed up your transit time, there are a couple things you can do:
- Drinking more water and eating fiber-rich foods like fruits and vegetables can help move things along, especially when they are added to every meal.
- Try including things like pears, asparagus, broccoli, and sweet potatoes throughout the day to get waste processed more efficiently.
- Exercising can be a big help, too. Try taking a long walk or jog one hour after you’ve eaten supper.
Source for Today’s Article:
McCarthy, J., “Think you’re eating properly? Put your body to the beet test,” The Globe and Mail web site, February 5, 2014; http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/health-advisor/think-youre-eating-properly-put-your-body-to-the-beet-test/article16708761/, last accessed January 19, 2015.