About 16 out of 100 adults experience constipation on a regular basis. Statistics show that constipation affects approximately 33 out of 100 adults aged 60 and older. But, what causes constipation? The answer may vary. A poor diet low on fiber and healthy fats, lack of physical activity, certain medications, changes in routine, or even aging can cause shifts in the digestive system. This can, in effect, significantly decrease the movement of food in the digestive tract.
Fortunately, there is an easy way to remedy issues related to constipation, and it revolves around your diet. According to existing data, women should try to eat at least 21 to 25 grams of fiber a day, while men should aim for 30 to 38 grams of fiber a day. While you can opt for over-the-counter laxatives, incorporating certain foods into your diet can be an even more effective solution.
Do you want to know more about the foods that make you poop? Explore the list below.
A medium-sized apple (100 grams) contains 4 grams of fiber. Fiber is the carbohydrate that passes through the intestines undigested. This means eating fiber-rich apples can aid the formation of stool and promote regular bowel movements.
Moreover, apple skin contains pectin, a soluble fiber known for its laxative effects. In the gut, it is rapidly fermented by bacteria to form short-chain fatty acids that pull water into the colon, softening the stool. It can also decrease gut transit time, helping reduce symptoms of constipation.
It’s best to eat an apple as is, with the skin intact. You can also incorporate it into your diet as an ingredient in yogurt, oatmeal, or bake it for a healthy dessert.
Dried plums, also known as prunes, contain nearly 4 grams of fiber in a 40-gram serving. This makes for 12% of the American Heart Association’s Reference Daily Intake of fiber. This is why prunes are known as a tried-and-tested natural laxative.
Easy to eat or snack on, prunes and dried figs are a good source of fiber that you can add to your overall daily fiber intake.
The soluble fiber in prunes is fermented in the colon to produce short-chain fatty acids. Moreover, cellulose, an insoluble fiber found in prunes, increases the amount of water in the stool, which can add needed bulk for exretion.
Prunes also contain phenolic compounds and sorbitol, a type of sugar alcohol that is not properly absorbed by the body. It helps draw water into the intestines, spurring bowel movement that alleviates constipation.
A 2014 review showed that prunes could help soften stool, improve stool consistency and frequency and thus, treat constipation. Prunes also contain dihydroxyphenyl isatin, a natural compound that stimulates the bowel, as well as sorbitol, a sugar that has a laxative effect.
Not a fan of the food? That’s fine. You can drink a glass of prune juice instead—just make sure it doesn’t contain artificial sweeteners. It can offer the same benefits that come with consuming whole prunes. You can also enjoy them in salads and cereals.
Broccoli is rich in fiber and is an excellent source of folate, vitamin C, and vitamin K. One cup (91 grams) of raw broccoli contains 2.3 grams of fiber, which is about 5% to 10% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA). Daily intake of broccoli sprouts normalizes bowel habits in human healthy subjects.
Broccoli also contains sulforaphane, a substance that helps protect the gut by preventing the growth of intestinal microorganisms that can interfere with healthy digestion. Adding broccoli to your diet can add bulk to your stool and help you poop.
A 2017 study showed that people who consumed 20g of broccoli sprouts every day for four weeks exhibited fewer symptoms of constipation and quicker bowel movements.
Broccoli can be eaten raw in salads, steamed with garlic, added into soups and stews, or cooked on its own.
Alfalfa contains digestive fiber and enzymes and is a high-quality protein source. It can deliver incredible digestion benefits. A 2017 study showed that eating 20g of raw broccoli or alfalfa sprouts may help regulate fluid balance and increase bowel movements.
A standard serving of sweet potatoes contains about 4 grams of fiber per cup, making them a great source of fiber. While they mostly contain insoluble fiber in the form of cellulose and lignin, they also contain pectin, a dietary fiber. The insoluble fiber can add bulk and weight to the stool. As such, they can help alleviate constipation by increasing regularity.
A 2016 study conducted on 57 leukemia patients undergoing chemotherapy showed that most constipation markers were improved in just four days of regular sweet potato consumption (200 grams per day). Participants also noticed significantly less straining and discomfort than their counterparts in the control group.
You can roast, steam, and boil sweet potatoes or substitute them for regular potatoes in various recipes. You can also use it as a replacement for bread.
Oat bran is the fiber-rich outer casing of the oat grain, and it contains more fiber than its more widely-used counterpart, oats. With just one-third cup (40 grams) of oat bran containing about 7 grams of fiber, it can positively affect bowel function.
A study was conducted on 15 senior participants who consumed oat bran over 12 weeks. It found that it was well tolerated in the group, and it helped maintain the bodyweight of the participants while decreasing their laxative use by 59%.
Of course, oat bran offers many health benefits to individuals of any age. You can include oat bran in recipes for homemade granola or bake it into bread and muffins.
Just one tablespoon of chia seeds contains 5 grams of fiber, making it one of the most fiber-dense foods available on the market. While they mainly contain insoluble fiber, their total fiber content does contain about 7% to 15% of soluble fiber. This soluble fiber helps absorb water and thus expands to form a gel-like consistency. This helps soften stools to ease constipation.
And if that wasn't enough “to get things moving,” a study found that chia seeds could absorb up to 15 times their weight in water. This can make the elimination of stool quicker and easier.
Add chia seeds into smoothies, puddings, oatmeals, and yogurts to boost the fiber quotient of your meal. As they’re also rich in protein, these small but mighty seeds can keep you full for hours and add extra fiber and a powerful punch of nutrition to the mix.
Olive oil contains compounds that not only improve digestion but also boast anti-oxidant, anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties. Research has found that consuming olive oil may help promote bowel movements and improve symptoms of constipation. It may also help balance blood sugar levels.
There is significant research that attests to the effectiveness of olive oil in alleviating constipation; however, further studies are needed to cement the findings.
With the many benefits it offers, it’s understandable why it’s a prime ingredient in the Mediterranean diet. To include it in your diet, cook veggies and greens in olive oil or use it as your base for salad dressing.
Dehydration is one of the most common causes of constipation. When a person becomes dehydrated, their intestines cannot add enough water to the stools to aid easy passage. This makes the stools dry, hard, and lumpy, which can lead to constipation.
Research shows that water can help maintain regularity, alleviate constipation by improving stool consistency, and amplify the effects of other natural laxatives.
So, the next time you have trouble pooping, drink plenty of water. It may help ease the symptoms, if not resolve them altogether. You can drink flat water with lemon or sparkling water.
Pears are incredibly rich in fiber, meeting about 20% of a person’s daily fiber needs. It also contains sugar alcohol called sorbitol which is responsible for stimulating bowel movement by pulling water into the intestines.
Furthermore, pears contain fructose that acts as a natural laxative. Pears also have high levels of water that can aid digestion and prevent constipation.
To get the most out of these benefits, it is best to eat the fruit whole, with its skin intact. You can also include it in salads, sandwiches, or enjoy it plain with an accompaniment of cheese and nuts.
Beans are fantastic plant foods that contain a good amount of both soluble and insoluble fiber and are chock full of other nutrients. For example, one-half cup (91 grams) of black beans contains over 8 grams of fiber. It also contains magnesium which neutralizes stomach acid and moves stools through the intestines.
The soluble fibers absorb water to form a gel-like consistency, which can help make the stool soft and easier to pass. In contrast, insoluble fibers pass through the digestive tract and add bulk to the stool to speed digestion. Beans can undoubtedly help maintain regularity and reduce constipation.
Increase your daily fiber intake by adding beans to soups and side dishes. They are chock full of nutrients, may offer bloating and gas relief, improve gut health, and pack a powerful fiber punch.
Yogurt and kefir contain microorganisms known as probiotics. Research suggests that these probiotics may help improve gut health and soften stools. This can help ease your digestive system, which is why they are often referred to as “good bacteria.”
A 2014 study conducted by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition investigated the use of unflavored probiotic yogurt in treating people suffering from chronic constipation. The yogurt contained lactobacillus acidophilus, bifidobacterium lactis, and polydextrose.
The study found that eating this healthy snack each morning for two weeks shortened the time it took for waste to move through the bowels. Consuming yogurt daily can thus alleviate constipation and promote bowel movement.
You can consume yogurt plain or add it to your bowl of oatmeal for a boost of flavor. You can also add almonds to the mix to bank on its healthy fats.
Artichokes are high in insoluble fiber and vitamins. This means it can add bulk to your stool and promote healthy digestion.
Artichokes also contain prebiotics that optimize digestive health by feeding the good bacteria in your colon. Including them in your diet can prove beneficial for your gut health and maintain stool regularity, which can help relieve constipation.
A review involving five studies showed that artichokes improved stool frequency and consistency. When the fiber was extracted to be used in a supplement, another study found that it also enriched beneficial bacteria.
One study with artichoke leaf extract conducted on participants with irritable bowel syndrome found that it normalizes bowel patterns and reduces the incidence of this condition.
To get the most out of artichoke’s many benefits, mix it with spinach for a creamy dip, add cooked artichokes to your veggie pizza, or use it as a topping on your favorite salad.
Avocados are a worldwide favorite and for good reason. Not only are they incredibly delicious, but they’re also chock full of nutrients that can help you tackle constipation issues.
With just one cup (146 grams) containing as much as 10 grams of fiber, avocados can prove to be a great way to keep your digestive tract healthy. They contain both soluble and insoluble fiber known for making your stool soft and easier to pass.
That’s not all. A 2019 study indicated that replacing carbs with fat and fiber from avocados can potentially aid weight loss. You can add it to smoothies and baked goods, spread it over a slice of toast, or substitute it as a dip or a spread on sandwiches.
Constipation can cause stomach pain, nausea, and bloating. Regular instances can transform it into a full-fledged health concern quickly. That's why it is advised to incorporate certain foods, like the ones mentioned above, in your diet to regularize your stool movements to help you poop.
In addition to a healthy diet, regular exercise may also help develop healthy bowel habits and encourage gut motility, thus relieving constipation.
New and exciting ways to monitor chronic constipation are also on the way. Designed with high-quality biometric sensors, the Çava Seat can track your gut health, heart health, fitness progress, and more, without changing your daily routine. Daily bathroom visits provide some of the best information needed to identify gut imbalances and food intolerances.
By tracking your vitals, body composition, and waste quality the Çava Seat is able to learn over time and make recommendations to help you live a healthier life.
Potato chips, ice cream, red meat, and processed foods have low fiber content and high-fat content. You should avoid consuming these food items when constipated to encourage bowel movements.
Water, prune juice, apple juice, pear juice, and warm liquids like tea and coffee can make you poop instantly.
Yes. Eating healthy, fiber-rich foods can help your body move stool. Examples include fresh raw vegetables and fruits, beans, prunes, and nuts.