Ask any new parent and they’ll tell you they spend a shocking amount of time focused on their baby’s bowel movements. They’ll laugh uncomfortably, but then they’ll admit, they do it because it’s an indicator digestion in the body is working as it is supposed to. As adults, we tend to monitor our bathroom habits a little less closely unless there is a problem. However, keeping a watchful eye on your digestive system can actually add years to your life and help you feel more energetic and healthful.
In general, the average healthy adult will have a bowel movement between once or twice a day and once or twice a week. To maintain a healthy pattern of digestive behavior, try to limit intake of red meats to once or twice a week. Substitute these with lighter meats like chicken or fish, or even better, non-meat protein sources such as soy, tofu, dairy and vegetables. Avoid sugary and/or caffeinated beverages. Both rob the body of water, which is essential to a healthy digestive system. Instead, drink more water and sugar-free fruit juices (or dilute fruit juices by at least 50% with water). In fact, many people swear by the habit of drinking a warm glass of water infused with 1-2 tablespoons of real lemon juice every morning before eating anything. Other people advocate drinking herbal teas with mint or gentian an hour or two after mealtime.
You can also “workout” your digestive system by exercising the muscles nearby. At least one hour after eating, with your knees bent, lean forward and place your hands on your thighs just above the knee. Press down with your hands, exhale deeply, and draw in your stomach as tightly as possible. After your exhalation, continue to hold your breath and use your abdominal muscles to push your belly in and out several times. Then stand up as you inhale. Repeat three times. When your digestive system is working well, you’ll know it. You may have more energy during the day. You may find weight loss goals easier to accomplish. You may even notice a boost in your immune system related to the better absorption of nutrients from your diet… and all that can make your ‘tummy’ feel like a kids’ again.