The bowel works to help the body absorb the nutrients and fluids from the foods we consume and expel leftover waste from the body - making it pretty clear why it plays such a crucial role in the digestive system.

The way your bowel functions can be affected by a number of factors, these include:

  • Food and drink
  • Exercise
  • Age

See also: What is the function of the bowel?

Factors that affect bowel function

There are some factors that can affect your bowel and ultimately affect how your body digests and absorbs food.

Food and drink

What you eat and drink throughout the day can have a strong impact on your bowel movements. It’s recommended that you eat a diet high in fibre and drink plenty of water to keep your stool soft and regular [1].


Regular exercise isn’t just good for the muscles and mind - it’s great for encouraging healthy bowel movements [2]. Increasing your daily exercise doesn’t have to be a chore; start off by taking a walk on your lunch break or taking the stairs rather than the escalator!


As we age, our bowel function tends to change; these changes may include conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease or haemorrhoids - with the right treatment, these can be controlled [3].

The American Cancer Society recommends that you start regular screening at the age of 45, or younger if you have a family history of bowel cancer. If you notice blood in your stool, it’s important to speak with a doctor.

LetsGetChecked’s at-home Bowel Cancer Screening Test can help identify the presence of cancerous or precancerous growths in the bowel by detecting blood in the stool that is invisible to the naked eye, from a non-invasive stool swab sample. Online results will be available within 5 days with medical support on hand to answer any questions you may have.

You should consider getting screened if:

  • You are experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms
  • You have a history of adenomas (benign tumors)
  • You have inflammatory bowel disease* (which includes Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis)
  • You have an inherited syndrome (e.g. Lynch syndrome/HNPCC or FAP)
  • You have type 2 diabetes
  • You have undergone radiation therapy

See also: How Can You Screen For Bowel Cancer From Home?


  1. NHS. Good foods to help your digestion. Online:, 2019
  2. Mayo Clinic. Constipation. Online: Mayoclinic, 2019
  3. Mayo Clinic. Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Online:, 2020