I read an article by Dr. Peter Bongiorno published on Psychology Today about the emotional health benefits that come with regular bowel movements. I realize this isn’t a topic that most people freely discuss (let’s be serious, talking about poop in public isn’t the social norm), but it was fascinating and I couldn’t resist blogging about it. The article cited research that found women who had regular bowel movements had healthier self-esteem and better ability maintaining relationships. It seems like a lot of credit is being given to staying regular, but the reasoning makes a lot of sense. The study actually looked at rectal blood flow and nerve pathways.
Rectal blood flow is a reflection of the nerve pathways from the brain to the gut and is affected by stress. According to Dr. Bongiorno, “reduced rectal blood flow [is] strongly associated with anxiety, depression, bodily symptoms, and impaired social skills, as well as feeling ‘unfeminine’.” Women who suffered from constipation scored lower on the psychological assessment that accompanied the study; they had decreased self-esteem and felt less feminine.
The proof is in the bowl. It’s important to keep your digestion healthy and moving. Not only will you feel good, but you’ll be doing your body, your nervous system and your gut a favor. Dr. Bongiorno recommends increasing your fiber intake by incorporating fruits and vegetables into your diet, as well as reducing stress through yoga, acupuncture, and/or meditation. It’s also important to remember that water is an essential part of bowel health (see my post on Hydration); be sure to stay properly hydrated.