Recently, a good friend, and one of my regular readers, made the observation that many of my articles are conceived whilst I am loafing about in coffee shops – commenting “Do I ever do any work?”
Whilst said as a jokey comment between friends, it was indeed a good observation, and was unerringly accurate. Thanks NH.
I decided that this would have to stop.
So, early one morning, I was sitting on my lavatory, ruminating about what to write next. Not such a strange place to really. I’m sure that the peaceful tranquility of the latrine is a place where, no doubt, many people take some quiet thinking time.
My subject matter today, therefore, is related to bowel health.
“Deep Joy” I hear you say…
Bowel health affects all of us, and is fundamental to staying in overall good health.
Everyone is taught from an early age of the importance of staying regular, and of eating the correct types of food in the correct proportions to keep us running smoothly.
Despite this, I was amazed to discover that constipation cost the English National Health Service £162 million in the fiscal year 2017/18!
Delving further, into what is a very touchy subject, I learnt that the statistics show nearly 15% of all adults suffer from constipation, and a third of all children are bunged up as well.
It seems that there is a social taboo about discussing such issues, and many people feel too embarrassed to even talk about it.
According to a YouGov survey of almost 2,500 adults in 2016, 35% of those experiencing constipation would rather do nothing, and wait and see if their condition improved before consulting with their GP. An alarming 50% thought it was not worth bothering with seeing their doctor.
Ignoring longer term constipation potentially leads to more serious situations, hence the large number of hospital admissions – 71,430 in 2017/18. Of that number, almost 53,000 were unplanned emergency admissions.
Constipation has more than a financial cost. Constipated patients spent a total of 163,128 days in hospital beds. That’s about 447 years of lost productivity, and extra strain on an under-resourced health service.
Those that do visit their GPs are sometimes prescribed laxatives to resolve their problem, and prescriptions cost in the region of £91 million.
UK GPs see on average about 6 people a week who have screwed their courage up and discussed their constipation. This is about 218,000 consultations per week, and this costs the NHS a further £487 million per year
So, what can we do about it?
The basics are now widely understood, if not acted upon. Healthy varied diet, with an intake of fibre, vegetables and fruit. A good level of hydration, and some regular exercise. All of these factors will reduce the risks of becoming backed up internally.
We also need to adopt better habits when going to the loo.
According to Bladder and Bowel, we need sit correctly on the toilet, in order to place the hips and lower abdomen into the optimal position for clearing the bowels.
The correct position? What?? There is a correct position for taking a poo????
Why was I never told this?
This is what Bladder and Bowel say about adopting correct posture.
Note: For my aviation, aerospace and airline professional followers, this is NOT the same as the BRACE position.
- Lean forward when you are sitting on the toilet with your hands resting on your thighs
- Make sure that your knees are bent and are higher than your hips (it may help to use a footstool if your toilet is high or you are not very tall)
- Make sure your feet are resting on the ground – (or on a footstool)
Figure 1 – The correct Sitting Position
It may not always be possible to do this, as not many public toilets, or those at work have small footstools, and let’s be honest, platform shoes went out in the 1970s, so until they come back into fashion, you may only be able to sit correctly at home.
It is recommended to try and establish a regular routine so as to avoid having a sudden need to use the toilet. However, if a sudden need is felt this should not be put off, and wherever possible we should go. Ignoring the urge could impair the bodies defecation reflex, which may then make it harder to know when you do actually need to go.
Now, as I alluded to earlier, the average UK bog is the place where we are all assured of a certain level of peace and tranquility. Many men will retire to the smallest room with the daily paper, a good book, or nowadays, with a smart phone or iPad.
As far as I know, this habit is mainly restricted to men…
Now the bad news. It’s really not a good idea to sit for prolonged periods of time in the “position” as this partially opens the bowel, which weakens it and this may lead to complications in advancing age – such as incontinence.
So, dump the books and papers fellers…
Lastly – we are a nation of ever-expanding people. I know that I am an incipient chocaholic, and love food of all types. I struggle with balancing my love for sweet desserts with my need to shed weight, and prior to Christmas I managed to slim down to 86Kg.
Post-Christmas, I have put 4 of those kilos back on.
To enhance not only overall fitness, but to prevent constipation, more exercise is needed more regularly. Exercise and hydration really will help to keep the body in better shape – as well as sitting correctly on the throne.
Bet you wish I’d gone to Costa’s now…
 YouGov Online Survey conducted 1/2/16 sample sized 2352, weighted to represent all UK Adults 18yrs +