Are bowel movements vital to health?

A concerned client asked me for details about specific foods and herbs to prevent colon cancer.

When I asked if she was experiencing any symptoms she said no. But, she told me that three of her friends were recently diagnosed with colon cancer in the past year and two of them died rather quickly.

I thought that was interesting because I too, had a friend that recently died of anal cancer – and rather quickly – within less than one year of her diagnosis.

When I visited my friend at the hospital, I asked her to share her symptoms. As a natural practitioner with a focus on prevention and healing, I’m always curious about what the body says to us before illness manifests.

She told me that she couldn’t have a bowel movement for over two weeks, so she went to the hospital to see what was wrong.

I was shocked!

Two weeks without a bowel movement?!?! How is that possible?

When I expressed my concern, she told me that she suffered from constipation her entire life and often didn’t go for a full week at a time. It was normal for her NOT to release her bowels on a daily basis.

Not being able to move your bowels for 3-5 days in a row, or one full week (7 days) is a HUGE red flag in the alternative health community.

This indicates that the detoxification organs, lymphatic system, and natural bodily processes are not working optimally. If the body cannot eliminate toxins and waste in a timely manner, it can congest the system and/or get reabsorbed back into the body, creating the perfect environment for disease to develop.

I asked if she had ever mentioned her bouts of constipation to her doctors, and she said they recommended laxatives.

Recommending a laxative is good for immediate relief, but it doesn’t address the deeper danger that is potentially going on inside the body contributing to a backup of waste.

Some questions to consider:

  • What is happening with the liver and gallbladder? We need bile for smooth bowel movements – are the bile ducts congested or infected?
  • What’s going on with the lymphatic system? The lymphatic system is responsible for removing toxins and impurities from the cells and disposing of them through perspiration, bowel movements, and urine.
  • What’s going on emotionally? Is there an inability to let go of that which no longer serves you? This is often overlooked but is essential to being able to release waste/garbage.

If you are struggling with constipation on a daily or weekly basis, don’t take it lightly.

One day of constipation is nothing to worry about, two days of constipation…. meh… uncomfortable, but not terrible. By day three if you have not had a bowel movement, I would be concerned. And, if this happens chronically, I would be very concerned.

Chronic constipation can increase your risk of many diseases and conditions including:[1] [2] [3]

  • Hemorrhoids
  • Colitis
  • Anal fissure
  • Impacted colon
  • Rectal prolapse
  • Indigestion
  • Bad breath
  • Urologic Disorders
  • Hypertension
  • And more serious conditions like cancer

By the way, you could be suffering from constipation even if you are going to the bathroom on a daily basis, BUT the stool is lumpy, hard to pass, or your bowel doesn’t feel like it fully empties, or if it looks like round balls kinda like rabbit or deer pellets.

Check out the Bristol Stool Chart below. Normal bowel movements are between types #3 and #4:[4]

If you are straining with bowel movements, going infrequently, or feeling like you are “incomplete” when you finish, it’s time to get proactive about what’s happening inside your body.

Start now, with the prevention of disease by keeping toxins and waste moving out of your system in a timely manner.

Use these 3 easy steps to promote normal daily bowel movements:


First and foremost, drink water.

The main function of the large intestine is to absorb water and remove waste from the body.

If you are not drinking enough water or you are dehydrated, the stool will sit for a longer period of time.

Water lubricates all of your cells, supports your lymphatic system, and clears waste. Drink water!


We’ve all been told to eat fiber for a variety of reasons, but if you only eat one type of fiber it could actually contribute to constipation.

We need both soluble and insoluble fiber for smooth bowel movements.

The soluble fiber found in oat bran, wheat bran, barley, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds, and herbs like slippery elm, creates mucilage or gel-like substance that softens stool to help move it easily through your system.

Insoluble fiber, found in many fruits and vegetables (and again in grains and beans) creates bulk that pushes waste out of the digestive system.

You can find a nice variety of recipes that’ll help move you to have a good BM here: Delicious Recipes


Exercising is great, and anytime you can move your darn body, do it!

But, with all of your exercise routines, don’t neglect a simple daily walk.

Walking stimulates peristalsis – that’s the contraction of the muscles in the intestines that helps move your feces down and out of your body.

The value in a brisk daily walk by far surpasses what we have been taught or conditioned to believe. Brisk walking and/or aerobic exercise moves the lymphatic system that clears debris and waste from the cells, and you need that to move the bowels.

Plus, if you can, stretch! Regular daily stretching supports the health of the liver and allows Qi (energy) to flow smoothly throughout the entire body. You can read more about that here: Wake up Your Body and Stretch!

The 3 simple steps above are easy things you can do right now to support your colon (and the rest of your beautiful body).

One final thing to consider… according to ancient healing the colon is connected to our ability to release and let go, literally. Some questions to ponder if you are feeling backed up:

  • Am I holding on tightly to something I need to release (a job, a relationship, a way of being in the world)?
  • Do I need to release anger and resentment toward my family?
  • Where is my life cluttered or congested?

This is a good place to begin to get the waste moving out of your colon and out of your life.

Wishing you many easy poops on your journey to wellness