Get­ting to bot­tom of it

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Books - Sara Fitz­patrick

WE don’t gen­er­ally talk about our bowel move­ments – the idea is kind of ‘poo-pooed’ – but Dr Michael Le­vitt would like to change that.

The Su­bi­aco sur­geon of St John of God is bring­ing the topic into the lime­light with his newly re­leased book; his third on the topic of bow­els and bowel func­tion.

“Al­though some peo­ple have in­tractable dif­fi­cul­ties with their bow­els, almost ev­ery­one on the planet ex­pe­ri­ences, from time to time, some com­plaint about their bow­els – too hard, too soft, too long, no warn­ing, leak­age – you name it,” Dr Le­vitt said.

“So I think that the vast ma­jor­ity of peo­ple will find some­thing both help­ful and re­as­sur­ing in The Happy Bowel.”

Dr Le­vitt said the big­gest mis­con­cep­tion peo­ple had about their bow­els was that they should work prop­erly.

“It’s as if we think we have a con­sti­tu­tional right to a spon­ta­neous daily bowel ac­tion and as if a well­cho­sen diet will some­how ‘dial up’ a per­fect bowel habit in any­one and ev­ery­one,” he said.

“But the truth is that ev­ery­one’s bow­els work dif­fer­ently and many peo­ple’s bow­els mal­func­tion de­spite ev­ery di­etary and life­style ef­fort to con­trol them.

“Just like ev­ery other bod­ily sys­tem – like those that reg­u­late our blood pres­sure or our blood sugar lev­els or our air­ways or our joints – our bow­els are also prone to go awry through ab­so­lutely no fault of our own.”

He said the most com­mon prob­lems peo­ple faced with their bow­els de­pended on gen­der.

“Women are prone to slug­gish bow­els and com­monly ex­pe­ri­ence con­sti­pa­tion, bloat­ing, dif­fi­culty with evac­u­a­tion and the need to take lax­a­tives,” the sur­geon said.

“Men on the other hand, are prone to softer and faster-mov­ing bowel mo­tions, leav­ing them prone to lengthy trips to the toi­let due to dif­fi­culty com­plet­ing evac­u­a­tion, lengthy wip­ing up af­ter defe­ca­tion, soil­ing, itch­ing and haem­or­rhoids.”

So what’s one thing ev­ery per­son can do to im­prove their bowel move­ment?

“We should all strive to reach the bath­room when (and only when) we have a full-blooded urge to go,” Dr Le­vitt said.

“De­lay­ing any trip to the bath­room un­til we have a gen­uine and pow­er­ful urge to go is the sin­gle most ef­fec­tive step that we can take to en­able a bowel ac­tion that will be truly sat­is­fy­ing – one that is prompt, ef­fort­less, brief and com­plete.”

The Happy Bowel is pub­lished through Fre­man­tle Press.

Dr Michael Le­vitt of St John of God.

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