Please read this first: First Steps to Take After Toxic Chemical Exposure
Adequate elimination via bowel movements is imperative to get rid of heavy metals, solvents, and pesticides. Very few people spend any amount of time understanding what their bowel movements mean in terms of their overall health. Most of us know we need to eat fiber and have a daily bowel movement but fail to know the particulars of that. So, in the interest of greater health, we will describe for you the “perfect” bowel movement.
The Perfect Bowel Movement (BM)
For an average-sized adult, bowel movements should occur one to three times per day and add up to a total of ten to twelve inches in length. This is a minimum quantity that shows an adequate amount of bulking fiber.
It should be well-formed, holding its shape, sink to the bottom of the bowl and not float. A good caliber (one to two inches in diameter) BM shows bulk, adequate strength of the colon muscles, and a proper amount of dewatering.
Sinking to the bottom of the bowl means it has a density greater than that of water, has little trapped gas (a sign of imbalanced bowel flora and little residual fat, since oil is lighter than water). Too much fat in the BM is a sign of pancreatic or gallbladder insufficiency.
It should come out without pain, blood, or mucus. Pain can be a sign of stricture or straining and needs investigation; blood can be a sign of hemorrhoids or, even worse, internal bleeding from Crohn’s disease or other problems and also requires medical attention.
Mucus can be a sign of irritable bowel syndrome or an allergy to certain foods. A severely offensive smell shows poor digestion and possibly over-growth of pathogenic bacteria in the colon or small bowel.
Bowel Transit Time
The time it takes the food you eat to come out the other end should be between twenty-four and thirty-six hours. This is known as your ‘bowel transit time’. Slow transit times (longer than 36 hours) cause the body to reabsorb waste products that need to be evacuated. Rapid transit times (shorter than 24 hours) deprive the body of adequate time to absorb the food’s nutrients.
(More information and a free worksheet called “BOWEL TRANSIT TIME – Instructions for Self-Testing” is available when you buy our book Toxic to Terrific: The step-by-step detox guide to safely remove dangerous toxins from your body and life.)
So how do you improve your bowel movements if you need to? Below we will discuss what to do if you are constipated or if your bowels are too loose or frequent.
How to eliminate constipation and have the “Perfect Bowel Movement”
We cannot stress enough that if you are not having 1-3, well-formed, 1-2 inch diameter, BMs that hold their shape and sink to the bottom of the bowl and add up to a total of ten to twelve inches in length, then you are in trouble. Here’s how to improve your situation.
1. Increase water intake
The first thing to do is to drink more water. Most people are actually dehydrated and since drinking water is fast, easy, and cheap, it is the place to start. In addition to better detoxing, drinking more water will improve your longevity! Please read our post “How Much Water Should You Drink?” (This link will open in a new window.)
2. Increase fiber
Everybody talks about fiber, but almost no one understands it!
There are 2 different types of Fiber
Fiber is the unsung hero of detoxification! Fiber helps prevent colon cancer, but most people are woefully low on fiber intake. There are two different types of fiber, soluble fiber and insoluble fiber and they do very different things!
Soluble fiber (from apples, pears, bananas, chia seeds, etc.) will slow down the bowel transit time because they hold onto so much water. Generally speaking, you do NOT want to use soluble fiber for detoxing. While they may bind some toxic substances that have been changed to be water-soluble via the liver detox enzymes, most of this will exit through the urine, not the feces.
Insoluble fiber does not break down or hold water like soluble fiber does. Because of this, insoluble fiber gives more volume to the stool which allows the bowel movement to move through the colon faster, preventing the reabsorption of toxins.
Vegetables are a great source of insoluble fiber. So eating more organic vegetables is the first thing you should add to your daily routine. On top of that, the list below contains high insoluble fiber sources. All of these listed below add bulk to the stool and bind bile, (where some toxins, like PFAS and PFOS collect) to ensure faster excretion from the colon.
The insoluble fiber sources below are listed from most gentle to most rough. Some patients say that ground flax and psyllium seed husks are too abrasive and irritating to their bowels. Choose one, do a test run for two days, then wait and see how it comes out (pun intended!).
- Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis) – half of a bunch (usually ten stalks without the white part)
- Celery – Six 5-inch pieces that are 1 inch in width
- Larch tree fiber (Arabinogalactans) – One heaping tablespoon twice per day
- Cellulose fiber (hypoallergenic) – One heaping tablespoon twice per day
- Oat bran – One heaping tablespoon once per day
- Ground flax seeds – One heaping tablespoon once per day
- Psyllium seed husks – One heaping tablespoon once per day (Please be aware, even though psyllium is in several common over-the-counter laxatives, many people find it too aggressive, so watch to see if you are too sensitive to handle psyllium.)
* Please note: Most bran cereal and muffin recipes have too much sugar or fruit. A sweet treat is not what we want, as sugar lowers the functioning of the immune system – we need a functional food. High-fiber and low-sugar foods increase the binding of bile acids, capture the materials, and release them from the body.
3. Increase Magnesium
Most people are low in Magnesium. Magnesium helps the body perform many functions, not the least of which are things like eliminating muscle spasms, promoting relaxation for good sleep, and bringing water to the bowels so that bowel movements are faster and smoother.
There are several different forms of magnesium that do different things, but for the purpose of getting the bowel moving a bit faster, magnesium oxide works well, so make sure that your magnesium supplement includes magnesium oxide if it is a blend.
Start with 1 cap at dinner, meaning with food. Stay with 1 capsule for a few days to see how that goes. If you are still not having a ‘Perfect Bowel Movement’ in the morning, increase to 2 capsules with dinner. Stay at that dose for a few days. If that still does not do it for you, try 1 capsule with lunch and 2 capsules at dinner.
Follow this pattern, increasing gradually every few days until you are having 1-3, well-formed, 1-2 inch diameter, BMs that hold their shape and sink to the bottom of the bowl, then stay at that dose. You can always back down a bit. If say, you increase your fiber and start having more than 3 BMs a day, you can decrease your magnesium dose.
What to do if your bowel movements are too loose or too frequent?
If your bowel movements are too loose or too frequent, then food is traveling too quickly through your system and your body does not have the chance to extract the nutrients and energy it needs from the food you eat. This could be due to several reasons, which you should look into right away!
If your bowel movements are usually not loose, but they are suddenly loose, you may have consumed infected food or water and caught a bacterial or viral infection. This is called short-term acute diarrhea and usually lasts for only 1 or 2 days. In this case, you may benefit from eating some raw garlic, taking probiotics, and of course, drinking a LOT of water with “rehydration” powder added which can be found in packets sold at pharmacies.
If you have had loose or too frequent bowel movements for longer than a few days (chronic diarrhea), you may:
- a side-effect to medication or radiation treatments
- food intolerance or allergies
- inflammatory bowel disease
- irritable bowel syndrome
- thyroid trouble
- tumors that make too many hormones
- or, be affected as a result of surgery on the stomach or gallbladder
So, the first thing you should do is go see a doctor and get testing done to see what might be causing your loose or too frequent bowel movements or diarrhea. To find a doctor to see in person, please visit our “How to Find a Doctor” page for searchable databases.
- 6. How to Sweat Toxins Out
- 7. Take high-quality supplements – Start with the basic detox supplements: B-Complex, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Magnesium, CoQ10, and Zinc citrate. This video explains supplement quality – Are you getting what you think you are?
- 8. How to Test and Purify Your Home
- 1. First Steps to Take After Toxic Chemical Exposure
- 2. How to Detox by Just Breathing
- 3. What are the Best Liquids for Detox?
- 4. How Much Liquid Should You Drink a Day?
- 5. How to Gently Move Your Bowels to Accelerate Detox