Causes of constipation - normal vs healthy bowel movements - Rachel Collins

Can we talk about poo for a moment?

I know you’d rather not. But it’s kind of important.


I get it. Poo is a taboo subject and because of this, we don’t pay it enough attention.

But we absolutely should be paying attention to our poo! If you’re not having a healthy bowel movement, every single day, you are constipated and there is something out of balance inside.

In my video below I outline why it’s so important for us to start normalising poo, what a healthy bowel movement actually looks like and some of the most common causes of constipation.

Prefer to read the overview? Click here.

Poo is a taboo

And this is a problem. Why?

  1. We put off ‘going’ when we need to go! How often have you held on because you’re out, or staying at a friend’s or partner’s house?
  2. We don’t ever get an idea of what’s normal or what is healthy. In fact we tend to ignore it all together. Which is not a great idea when it holds so much information about our bodies.

A healthy bowel movement

A healthy poo is smooth and easy to pass, it’s brown in colour. It’s not overly smelly or sticky. Google the Bristol Stool Chart for some lovely images!

And importantly, you should poo every day.

If you’re not passing a stool every day, you are constipated. I’ve been prompted to write this blog post after hearing about a GP saying that it was “perfectly normal to poo every other day and in fact, lots of people only go once every three days”. When I hear stuff like this is really annoys me. Just because something is “normal” doesn’t mean it is ok. I remember being told that heartburn in pregnancy was normal and that colic was normal. Just because something is common doesn’t make it ok, and it certainly doesn’t make it healthy.

You are putting food into your body every day and you need to eliminate the waste every day too.

Taking out the trash

Elimination is the final stage of your body’s natural detoxification pathway. Your body is working hard all the time to rid your body of waste products. These include pesticides, chemicals and other toxins your have acquired from your environment and your own hormones. Your hormones all have very specific messages to relay, once they have done their job it’s important that your body eliminates them. If you aren’t ‘going’ daily, those toxins are being stored in your body and are at risk of being reabsorbed by your body.

Constipation can make you feel heavy, bloated and lethargic. And it can prevent your losing weight.

If you don’t have a daily bowel movement it’s an indicator something is wrong. Left unchecked it could result in disease further down the line.

Common causes of constipation

  1. Dehydration – many of us spend our days dehydrated. We need plenty of water t bulk up the stool to make it easier to pass.
  2. Lack of fibre – this isn’t as common as you would think. We do need soluble and insoluble fibre to pass a healthy stool, however you can’t just keep throwing fibre at the problem. You may end up just causing painful gas and bloating. If you already have plenty of fruit, veg and whole grains in your diet try another idea in this list.
  3. Lack of electrolytes – Magnesium and potassium are important for peristalsis (the movement that pushes out the poo). Supplementing with Magnesium Citrate will help with potassium absorption and get things moving.
  4. Poor gut health – the root cause of so many issues. The wrong kind of bacteria, or the right kind of bacteria growing in the wrong place might be the cause of your constipation. A good probiotic may help get things moving.
  5. Hidden food intolerances – I’m not talking about allergies here but foods that your body are sensitive to that could be undermining your health. A food intolerance will be causing low level inflammation and be putting constant strain on your immune system. Find out if you have an intolerance with the elimination diet. 
  6. Lack of fruit and veg nutrition – fruits and veggies contain polyphenols; plant nutrients that are vital for peristalsis. Leafy greens also contain magnesium to help with point 3. Upping your fruit and veg is going to support you body in a more powerful way than adding in isolated minerals like magnesium because you get the wide range of benefits from the thousands of plant nutrients. I personally boost my fruit and veg nutrition with capsules containing nutrition from concentrated fruit and vegetables. I offer a free consultation to help identify the right supplement for you. Book here.
  7. Hormonal imbalances – imbalances fall into 3 main areas:
    • Lack of serotonin: most of our serotonin is produced int he gut and it is needed for a good bowel movement. SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors) may help in the short-term, but may cause constipation with long term use.
    • Excess Cortisol: chronic stress keeps us in fight or flight mode which disrupts the digestive pathway.
    • Excess progesterone: This is one of the reason it can be harder to ‘go’ in pregnancy or you might get constipated if you are supplementing with this hormone.

I really hope that this has helped you understand the cause of your constipation. If you need some help to investigate this further then some 1-1 health coaching can help. 


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