What indicates healthy bowels?

1 answer | Last updated: Oct 12, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

I am 66 years old. Is daily evacuation of bowels a must for my health?

Expert Answers

Jennifer Serafin, N.P. is a registered nurse and geriatric nurse practitioner at the Jewish Homes for the Aged in San Francisco.

The answer to your question, the "normal" frequency of moving your bowels really depends on the person. Many people to have to move their bowels daily to feel good, while there are other people that only need to go 2 or 3 times a week. It really depends on what is normal for you, and how you feel in general.

How can you tell if you are moving enough? Your stools should be easy to pass, mostly formed, and not dry or sticky. You should not feel full, bloated, or have abdominal pain.

If your stools are hard to pass, you may have constipation. To help this problem, you can try drinking more liquids (like water) and eating more fiber. High fiber foods include prunes, prune juice, fruits, vegetables, and some cereals. If changing your diet doesn't work, try and see your health care provider to see why you are constipated and what will help you to be more regular. They may even prescribe laxatives to help your bowels to move more often.

One other thought I have is that if you have had a sudden change in your bowel habits, this can be a sign of a colon problem. Please let your health care provider know if this is happening to you. Good luck!