Brazil’s President: What Is Wrong With His Poop Advice

By | August 11, 2019

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro had a poopy suggestion when asked about the environment. (Photo: EVARISTO SA/AFP/Getty Images)

Getty

What’s most to blame for messing up the environment? How about you and your selfish insistence on pooping when you have to do so.  Is that what Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro suggested after a “journalist quoted reports saying deforestation and agriculture were responsible for a quarter of the planet’s greenhouse effect,” as described by the BBC News.

The BBC News indicated that Bolsonaro responded, “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.”

Really? That’s the problem? That should be the focus of ways to stop environmental pollution? Getting people to eat less so that they don’t pooping as often?

According to the NGO Imazon, deforestation in the Amazonia increased in a 54% in January, 2019 -the first month of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s term- compared to the same month of 2018. (Photo: MAURO PIMENTEL/AFP/Getty Images)

Getty

To my knowledge, Bolsonaro is not medical doctor. He presumably does poop, although it’s not clear how often. Perhaps a future press conference can focus on this question.

It’s also not clear how he came up with the seemingly arbitrary “poop every other day” frequency. There is no established specific recommended frequency for pooping. Instead, there are general ranges of what is considered reasonable. An article in Healthline offers the general rule that three poop movements a day to three a week is normal. However, this is a general range over time and not a strict limit for each day. Therefore, don’t freak out and say, “oh bleep,” if one day you happen to have four bowel movements.

Moreover, consistency is important in both life and poop. If you are chronically suffering from constipation or diarrhea then you should talk to your doctor. Your frequency of pooping alone is not a reliable measure of how you and your gastrointestinal tract are doing. For example, if you are constipated, maybe your diet needs more fiber, which could get you to poop more often.

Additionally, pooping is usually not something that you can just decide when to do. You can’t really schedule all pooping in advance. Pooping is not the same thing as picking up your dry cleaning. You can’t TiVo your poop for tomorrow instead. Poop just happens. The hope then is that a bathroom is withing close walking distance.

Furthermore, the amount of food that you eat is not the only thing that governs how frequently you poop. Potentially more important is the type of food that you eat. More fiber from greater consumption of whole grains, vegetables, and fruits can increase the frequency by adding more bulk to your stool.

The amount of fluids that you drink can matter too. More fluids can help your poop be softer and easier to pass.

Physical activity can make a difference too. Getting more physical activity can stimulate more peristalsis. Peristalsis is the movement that your intestines make to essentially squeeze your digested food and eventual poop through their merry way. It would not be advisable to get less exercise to keep yourself from pooping as frequently.

Then, there is your age. Your intestines tend to get less active and slower as you age. Taking certain medications can also contribute to the slow down.

As you can see, your intestines are not like a latte dispenser or a vending machine. Pooping is a more complex process. Arbitrarily telling people to poop less frequently is not good health advice and could result in lots of accidents and soiled underwear.

If anything, many healthy activities such as consuming more fiber, staying well hydrated, and getting plenty of physical activity may result in more frequent pooping.

Plus, when it comes to environmental pollution, why should getting people to eat less be more of a priority than addressing deforestation, agricultural practices, and industrial pollution? Protecting the environment and reducing industrial practices that may contribute to pollution and the greenhouse effect are things that a government could do. Getting people to eat and poop less, not so much, unless you really want the government to monitor your mouth and the other end. No, you can’t make this poop up.    

Forbes – Healthcare