The Basics: What Do Changes in Bowel Habits Mean?

The Basics: What Do Changes in Bowel Habits Mean?

Written by Hudson Shapiro, TumLove founder & IBD Warrior

Bowel changes can indicate many things about your overall health. That's why we, at Tumlove, provide gut-friendly protein powder to help maintain your digestive wellness. In this guide, we'll explore what these changes could mean, ensuring you're empowered to make informed decisions about your gut health.


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Understanding Bowel Habits

Bowel habits vary widely among individuals, and what is "normal" can range from a few times a day to a few times a week. While occasional fluctuations are common, a consistent change in bowel habits can sometimes be a sign of an underlying health issue.

Common Changes in Bowel Habits

Changes in bowel habits can take many forms, including:

  • Frequency: Going more often than usual or less frequently
  • Consistency: Stools may become harder or softer than usual
  • Urgency: A sudden, intense need to go
  • Appearance: Changes in color, size, or shape of your stools

What Causes Changes in Bowel Habits?

A variety of factors can lead to changes in bowel habits. Here are some of the most common:


What you eat has a direct impact on your bowel habits. High-fiber foods can help promote regular bowel movements, while a diet low in fiber can lead to constipation. Furthermore, some people may have food intolerances or sensitivities, such as lactose intolerance or gluten sensitivity, that can cause changes in bowel habits.


Physical activity stimulates your intestines, which can help promote regular bowel movements. On the other hand, lack of exercise can lead to constipation.


Certain medications, including some types of antidepressants, iron supplements, and painkillers, can cause constipation. Others, like antibiotics, can lead to diarrhea by disrupting the balance of bacteria in your gut.

Stress and Anxiety

There's a strong connection between the brain and the gut. High levels of stress or anxiety can lead to changes in bowel habits, including diarrhea or constipation.

Medical Conditions

Certain medical conditions, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), and celiac disease, can cause significant changes in bowel habits.

When to Seek Medical Attention

While occasional changes in bowel habits are typically not a cause for concern, consistent changes could indicate a more serious issue. You should seek medical attention if changes in bowel habits are accompanied by other worrying symptoms such as:

  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Blood in the stool
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Constant fatigue

Managing Changes in Bowel Habits

If you're experiencing a change in bowel habits, there are several strategies that may help:

Eating a Balanced Diet

Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein can promote regular bowel movements. For individuals with a sensitive gut, a Low FODMAP diet, which includes certain types of fruits, vegetables, and grains, can help manage symptoms.


Staying Hydrated

Drinking plenty of fluids, particularly water, can help prevent constipation by softening your stools and making them easier to pass.

Regular Exercise

Maintaining a regular exercise routine can help stimulate your intestines and promote regular bowel movements.


Get Enough Protein

Inadequate protein intake may result in weakened digestive function, impairing the body's ability to break down and absorb nutrients properly. Using a gut-friendly supplement, like Tumlove's Low FODMAP Protein Powder, can provide the protein your body needs without further irritating your stomach.


Final Thoughts

Changes in bowel habits can sometimes seem concerning, but remember that our bodies are complex, and occasional fluctuations are often part of normal bodily functions. Always listen to your body and don't hesitate to seek medical attention if needed. And remember, your diet plays a significant role in your bowel habits and overall gut health. Choose gut-friendly, nutritious foods and supplements like Tumlove's Low FODMAP Protein Powder to give your body the support it needs.


What can cause a rapid change in bowel habits?

A rapid change in bowel habits can be triggered by a variety of factors, including changes in diet, medication, stress, and certain medical conditions. If the change is persistent or accompanied by other concerning symptoms, it's best to consult a healthcare professional.

Is a change in bowel habits a sign of cancer?

While changes in bowel habits can be a symptom of colorectal cancer, they can also be caused by many other less serious conditions like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), stress, or dietary changes. Persistent changes, especially when accompanied by other symptoms like blood in the stool, unexplained weight loss, or abdominal pain, should be reported to a healthcare professional.

Can stress cause changes in bowel habits?

Yes, stress can significantly impact your bowel habits. It can speed up or slow down the digestion process, leading to diarrhea or constipation. Long-term stress may also contribute to the development of certain digestive disorders, such as IBS or ulcers.

How can I normalize my bowel movements?

Regular physical activity, a balanced diet rich in fiber, proper hydration, and stress management can all help normalize your bowel movements. If lifestyle modifications aren't sufficient, you may want to consider a probiotic supplement or consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice.

Can diet and exercise help with changes in bowel habits?

Absolutely! A diet high in fiber, plenty of water, and regular physical activity can all contribute to more regular bowel movements. Foods that are particularly good for digestive health include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Exercise can help stimulate the natural contraction of intestinal muscles, aiding in bowel movements.

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Author Info:

Hudson Shapiro

Founder of TumLove - Crohn's & IBS Warrior ✨💚