The definitive answer to the question we all were afraid to ask: Do we need to poo daily? 81



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We all wonder if we’re normal, particularly when it comes to bodily functions. One that we’ve always wanted to know is, do we need to poo daily?

Some of us are completely happy to talk about our bowel movements over dinner, while others would rather talk about anything else. So what exactly did your mother mean when she said you needed to be regular? What is regular when it comes to poo?

Many people believe that if you don’t go once a day, you’re backed up and constipated, but according to new research published in the journal Gut it is actually more normal to poo less often than once a day – most people have irregular bowel movements.

Researchers studied the bowel movements of 838 men and 1059 women, asking the participant to keep records of three consecutive defecations, including type of stool. Interesting, although the most common bowel habit was once daily this was a minority practice in both sexes; a regular 24 hour cycle was apparent in only 40% of men and 33% of women.

Another 7% of men and 4% of women seemed to have a regular twice or thrice daily bowel habit. Thus most people had irregular bowels. A third of women defecated less often than daily and 1% once a week or less. The researchers also found that stools at the constipated end of the scale were passed more often by women than men, and age did not have an effect.

Most defecations occurred in the early morning and earlier in men than in women and it was concluded that “normal” bowel function is not that common.

And despite this research and other information provided by physicians, some people resort to other measures than a healthy diet to get the ship sailing, so to speak.

Laxatives have been around for years, and their overuse is mainly in the older demographic, i.e. the over 60s. We were brought up to think that we needed to go every day!

Brisbane-based colorectal surgeon Dr Andrew Bell told the ABC, “In the ’50s and ’60s, mums and dads used to put kids on potties first thing in the morning and tell them they couldn’t go out to play until they’d done a poo.

“It’s just not natural. If there’s nothing there to poo, you’re not going to pass anything”.

Dr Bell noted that if you are constipated, it’s likely due to your diet, and laxatives should be avoided unless completely necessary.


Tell us, were you brought up to think you needed to poo every day?

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. If you eat real food you will poo daily, I don’t tell myself to go my body tells me and that’s daily

  2. Once a day…….when I get up which is usually 5 am.

  3. Never had to think about it. We were brought up on a good, balanced diet that included soluble and insoluble fibre (or ‘roughage’, as it was called in the 1940s). The only time there’s been variation through the years has been after a couple of operations. Oh, by the way: Funny happenings after taking a dose of barium. I think that’s where the saying, “S*** a brick” might originate!

  4. Way too much information…thinking a body function…exactly …. My body tells me and agree a balanced diet and healthy eating and plenty of water…key factors…never have to think about this

  5. Eat good healthy foods daily, lots of fluids, wee and poo as needed. It just happens I don’t think about it.

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