Gut health is a hot topic, but there seems to be conflicting messages on grocery store labels, in research, and even among the medical community on what you should do to take care of your digestive system. If you're experiencing issues in the bathroom — like constipation, diarrhea, or general digestive discomfort — it's probably a sign something in your routine is messing with gastrointestinal tract. As a matter of fact, a lot of habits that may seem healthy may actually mess with your gut.
"Your poop (and its size, shape, color, texture, consistency, and frequency) is one of the most visible biomarkers of your gastrointestinal and overall health — if you know how to read it," Ara Katz, the co-CEO and co-founder of Seed, a start-up that conducts gut health-related research and sells a probiotic supplement, tells Bustle. Of the seven types of bowel movements on the gold-standard scale, called the Bristol Stool Chart, types three and four are "ideal," which are soft, smooth, and easy to pass. One and two are typically hard and signifiers of constipation, while types five through seven become more watery and signify diarrhea. The Bristol Stool Chart also says that pooping one to three times a day, to three times a week, is typical.
Around 10 to 15% of the world's population have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) — a health issue that commonly causes chronic diarrhea, constipation, or both — as the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders reported. However, Katz says, "One or two days of abnormal bowel movements is normal; it’s not until the irregularity becomes a pattern that intervention is needed." However, occasional discomfort in the bathroom could simply be caused by seemingly healthy habits, and you may not even realize it. According to science, here are six surprising things you may be doing that can be impacting your bowel movements for the worse.