Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has an unusual solution to environmental crises: Eat less, therefore poop less. Poop once every other day, to be exact.
“It’s enough to eat a little less. You talk about environmental pollution. It’s enough to poop every other day. That will be better for the whole world,” Bolsonaro told a journalist on Friday, Agence France-Presse reported.
While it’s unclear how the political leader’s suggestion would affect the environment, if at all, it’s clear the idea failed to take into account the way the human body works. Different people poop at different frequencies and different times of the day, and those variations are influenced by more than how much they eat.
In other words, a one-poop-fits-all solution simply doesn’t exist.
“Some adults may have a bowel movement three times a day, while others may have one just three times a week,” Dr. Jennifer Inra, a gastroenterologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, told Women’s Health. Both can be healthy.
How often you poop isn’t simply a reflection of how much you eat
The frequency and times of day at which you poop rely on a variety of factors, including genetics, diet, and exercise.
A high-fiber diet, for example, will likely make a person poop more often because the nutrient causes more water to build up in their stool, making it easier for that stool to pass through the body.
For the same reason, eating too little fiber can result in constipation. A lack of fiber is why people on high-protein diets may struggle with constipation or diarrhea, INSIDER previously reported.
Drinks like coffee can also cause you to poop more since the beverage contains caffeine, an ingredient that has been found to stimulate the colon, according to the National Institutes of Health.
And the more a person exercises, the more they might poop.
“Movement will affect digestion because it will help move food contents, gas, and stool along the digestive tract,” Dr. Sophie Balzora, a gastroenterologist, told Health.com, adding that it’s common for doctors to suggest exercise as a treatment for people with chronic constipation.
What’s more, genetics and hormones can affect how often you go number two. When a person is menstruating, their hormone fluctuations can cause their bowel movements to vary in frequency and consistency. The hormone progesterone, which can make food move more slowly through the body, often increases in the period between ovulation and menstruation and may lead to constipation, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Focus on your diet if you want to have healthy bowel movements
To keep yourself on track, make sure your diet has about 25 grams of daily fiber, according to the US Food and Drug Administration. Good sources of fiber include barley, brown rice, buckwheat, bulgur, millet, oatmeal, quinoa, rolled oats, whole-grain corn, and whole oats.
Staying hydrated with plenty of water and limiting your sugar intakecan also help keep your trips to the bathroom regular and healthy, according to Health.com.
You should worry about your health only if your bathroom schedule isn’t normal for you — if, for example, you used to go twice a day but now you go every other day, it could mean you need more fiber to prevent constipation.
If you notice a change for an extended period of time, you should see your doctor since it could be a sign you have a medical condition like Crohn’s disease or irritable bowel syndrome. According to the Mayo Clinic, an abnormal schedule plus bloody or black stool, rectal or abdominal pain, chronic dehydration, or a fever are all signs you should see a doctor.