How often you should be going for a poo – and what it means if you’re not

If you've been keeping an eye on the news over the last few days, you might have seen that there's recently been a lot of talk about constipation.

That's because a study by King's College London found that one in three 'healthy' patients weren't able to recognise signs that there was a problem with their gut.

This inspired food intolerance testing experts YorkTest Laboratories to conduct a poll to find out how often Brits are actually going to the toilet – and some of the results might surprise you.

According to the poll, an overwhelming number of people in the UK (54 percent) pass a stool once a day.

This figure was found to be consistent across both men and women, with 59 percent of females saying they went daily and 50 percent of men agreeing.

However six percent of respondents – equivalent to around four million people in the UK – said they only defecated either once a week or less than once a week.

But how many times is thought to be a 'normal' amount?

Researchers from King's College found in their study that seven bowel movements a week was the average for those that weren't constipated.

However, according to the BBC other experts say that three bowel movements a day to three a week can be normal.

So it seems there isn't a specific number of times you should be going to the toilet each day or week, instead you need to work out what is normal for you.

That way, you'll be able to tune into your body and know when you're having a problem with your bowel movements.

YorkTest Laboratories Scientific Director Dr Gill Hart says that a poo infrequency – or going too often – could indicate an underlying bowel problem, or even a food intolerance.

She said: "There's lots of reasons why someone might have irregular bowel movements, from eating the wrong foods to not drinking enough or simply not doing enough exercise.

"But what is clear from the scientific literature is that infrequent visits to the toilet could have an influence on your mood. Around 90 percent of our serotonin, the hormone responsible for happiness is housed in the gut.

"Therefore it's crucial to ensure that everything is harmonised and you eat a balanced diet."

Natalie Lamb, a Nutritional Therapist from Lepicol, added: "Having regular bowel movements often makes people feel lighter, more energised, and ready to enjoy the next meal!  One to two bowel movements a day is considered to be healthy, with one after each meal being optimal.

"If there is insufficient dietary fibre or water in the diet, the faeces will move more slowly and there will be more time for water to be absorbed from the ingested food into the rest of the body, leaving the faeces smaller and harder, which in turn is more difficult to move, resulting in constipation and generally feeling sluggish.

"Constipation could also occur from lack of movement, various medications, stress, unfamiliar environments etc."

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