The Best Foods to Help You Poop: Relieve Constipation Naturally
Relieve constipation naturally with these foods and drinks that can help you poop. Learn what foods to avoid and how to get your digestive system moving again.
A primary care membership for patients who want more. Primary Care. Nutrition. Wellness. All under one roof.join the club
Feeling heavy and sluggish from constipation? Chronic gas and bloating impacting your everyday life? You’re not alone! Constipation is widespread. According to the NIH, in the United States around 16 out of 100 adults experience symptoms of constipation. The risk increases as you age, with constipation affecting approximately 33 in 100 adults aged 60 or older.
This article will give you a better understanding of what constipation is, the best foods and drinks to help you poop, and what you might want to avoid. The good news is there are a lot of things you can start doing today to help alleviate symptoms like making sure to drink enough water everyday or adding fiber rich berries like raspberries to your morning breakfast. Keep reading to learn more!
What Is Constipation and What Are Some of Its Symptoms?
Before we dive in, let’s define constipation and identify some of its common symptoms. Constipation is the medical term for when a person has a reduction in bowel movements or difficulty passing stool. Everyone’s bowel habits are different, but constipated people usually have fewer than three bowel movements per week.
Common Symptoms of Constipation
- Stools that are dry, hard or lumpy
- Stools that look like small stones or marbles
- Stools that are difficult or painful to pass
- A feeling that not all stool has passed
- Chronic gas
- A loss of appetite due to a continual sense of fullness
- A slightly swollen abdomen (bloating).
15 Foods and Drinks That Help You Poop
The good news is that if you’re experiencing the discomfort of constipation and bloating or want to feel lighter, there are many high-fiber foods you can start to incorporate into your diet to help ease constipation naturally.
Check out what makes the list for us and why:
Plenty of Water
Dehydration is one of the most common causes of constipation. When you're dehydrated, intestines can’t add enough water to stools resulting in dry, hard, lumpy bowels that are difficult to pass. It’s crucial to make sure you’re drinking enough water to maintain a healthy and regular system.
Strive for 2-3 L of water per day. We suggest having a 1L water bottle at your desk as a visual cue to encourage more consistent drinking throughout the day.
We should always strive to incorporate more leafy greens into our diets (think spinach, kale, arugula), especially when dealing with constipation. Leafy greens contain insoluble fiber, which our intestines can’t absorb so we eliminate it more quickly. Make these greens the base of your salad or add a handful to smoothies, scrambled eggs, soups, pasta sauces or stir frys!
Avocados are rich in fiber and magnesium, which help to hydrate your intestines to keep poop soft and easy to pass. One half an avocado has almost five grams of fiber. They’re also a great source of healthy fats and will leave you feeling satisfied after a meal.
Apples are fiber-rich and contain more than four grams per serving, which is the size of one small apple. They’re a prebiotic rich food, which helps feed the good bacteria in your gut. Be sure to eat the apple’s skin to get all of the benefits—it contains pectin, which is a soluble fiber that gels in your digestive tract after ingestion and can act as a natural laxative. An apple with two tablespoons of almond butter is one of our go-to snacks.
Dried prunes have a reputation for easing constipation, and for a good reason. One serving, approximately five prunes, contains six grams of fiber, which helps food move through your intestines more quickly. And if you’re not a fan of dried prunes, prune juice is just as effective.
Kiwis have been shown to increase water in the intestines, helping foods to pass more quickly. One small kiwi has over two grams of fiber! Try adding kiwi with the skin into your morning smoothie.
Raspberries (and blackberries) are high in fiber and water, which helps boost internal hydration and keeps things moving. They’re also a great low-glycemic fruit option and an excellent source of antioxidants. Enjoy them on their own or add them to your breakfast bowl!
Black beans and just about any type of bean are fiber superstars, with over seven grams per serving in approximately ½ cup of cooked beans. Beans contain both insoluble and soluble fiber, which helps keep things moving through your digestive tract. We love adding beans to our salads or soups.
Legumes such as lentils and chickpeas are an excellent source of insoluble fiber. One half cup of cooked lentils contains over eight grams of fiber, as well as other nutrients that support a healthy colon. They’re also a great source of plant-based protein. Add them to salads, soups, or as a side at dinner.
Chia seeds are small, but mighty! Just one tablespoon of chia seeds contains over five grams of fiber. They also expand and turn into a gel-like consistency when combined with liquid, which not only helps keep you fuller longer, but also helps move food through your stomach. Try making chia seed pudding for breakfast.
Flaxseeds are another tiny superfood that packs a big punch! This nutritional powerhouse contains about three grams of fiber—both insoluble and soluble—per tablespoon. Flaxseed oil in particular can have a mild laxative effect, helping to ease the flow of food particles through the digestive tract. Add 1-2 tablespoons of flaxseeds or flaxseed oil to your morning smoothie.
Whole grains such as wheat bran, buckwheat, and brown rice add bulk to your stool which helps food pass more quickly through the digestive system. They can also be a good source of unrefined carbs.
To get the most benefit out of these foods they should be eaten in their most whole, unprocessed form, without any added sugars or artificial ingredients. Examples include 100% wheat bran cereal or pasta and bread made from whole flours such as whole wheat, buckwheat, brown rice, quinoa or millet. Make a grain bowl or pair them with lots of veggies and a serving of protein at dinner.
One half a cup of cooked oats has almost five grams of soluble fiber and is associated with heart health benefits including reduced LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol). Oatmeal or overnights makes for an easy breakfast and will help ensure you’re getting some dietary fiber into your day early on. Opt for steel-cut oats and just make sure to top oats with foods rich in protein, fat, and fiber—such as almond butter, raw nuts and seeds, protein powder or berries—to help round out the meal and better balance blood sugar levels.
Kefir is a fermented dairy product that naturally contains probiotics—and when it comes to constipation and gut health, probiotics are a must! Other probiotic-rich foods include pickles, sauerkraut, and kimchi. We recommend keeping a few of your favorite fermented foods in your fridge and trying to incorporate them into your diet on a weekly, if not daily basis.
Warm liquids like soups and bone broths are easy to digest and add moisture to the digestive tract. They’re a great way to help hydrate your system. We love meal-prepping soup on the weekends to have on hand for easy meals throughout the week.
Foods to Avoid When You Have Constipation
Constipation is complicated. Many factors including diet, lifestyle, and stress can contribute to it. People with digestive health and gastrointestinal issues such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may find that eating certain foods can worsen or contribute to constipation. Making a few simple changes to your diet and reducing the intake of certain foods can help promote regularity and healthy digestion.
What foods to avoid and why:
Alcohol is a top trigger for constipation. Not only is it a toxic substance, but when you drink alcohol it can increase the amount of fluid lost through your urine and lead to dehydration. Ultimately, poor hydration results in dry, hard, lumpy stools that are painful to pass. If and when you do drink, practice mindful sipping and try to drink one glass of water for every glass of wine, beer, or cocktail consumed.
Fried or Fast Food
Fried or fast foods are usually high in fat and low in fiber, a combination that can slow digestion and lead to constipation. Fried food also tends to contain large amounts of sodium, which can lower the water content of stool—making them dry and harder to move through the body.
And fast food, specifically processed snacks such as chips, crackers, cookies, and other sugary treats, have little to no fiber content and are often consumed in place of other more fiber-rich whole food options, such as fruits and veggies. In the words of Michael Pollan, “If it came from a plant, eat it. If it was made in a plant, don’t.”
Milk and Dairy Products
Dairy that is not fermented can be another common cause of constipation for some people. This is due to a sensitivity to casein, a protein found in cows milk which can be harder to digest. Consider swapping milk for an unsweetened nut-based milk like almond or cashew.
Red meat is also high in fat and low in fiber, which can increase the risk of constipation in the same way that fried or fast food does. Red meat may also take the place of more fiber-rich foods in the diet. If you do consume red meat, make sure to do it mindfully. Eat it in moderation and pair it with lots of fiber-rich veggies like leafy greens, broccoli or artichokes.
Supplements to Help You Poop
For some, eating a high-fiber diet rich in healthy foods isn’t enough to get things moving. This is where supplements can come into play. Two of our go-to supplements to help ease symptoms of constipation include a high quality probiotic and magnesium citrate:
- Probiotic supplements are made up of living microorganisms, including certain strains of beneficial bacteria and yeasts that when ingested can help restore (and maintain) balance in the gut.
- Magnesium citrate helps relax your bowels and pull water into your intestines. The water helps soften and bulk up your stool, which makes them easier to pass. Magnesium citrate is relatively gentle. It shouldn’t cause urgency or emergency bathroom trips, unless you take too much of it.
It’s important to note that not all supplements are created equal and you want to make sure you source from reliable brands that are science-backed and third party tested. And as always, make sure to consult with a doctor before taking any new supplements. This is something our care team at The Lanby can help with.
Bottom line, constipation is an uncomfortable condition that’s relatively common.
The good news is that if you’re struggling with constipation, there are many simple diet shifts you can implement immediately. Start by increasing your fiber intake by incorporating more of the whole foods from our list. At the same time you're adding in more fiber, try to avoid or reduce your intake of the foods that cause constipation.
If you make some of these dietary changes and still experience chronic constipation, then it may be time to seek professional guidance. Our care team at The Lanby can work with you to get to the root cause of your digestive issues and develop a personalized plan to get you back on track. Book a free consult.
If you're curious to learn more about The Lanby, book a free consult call and we'll chat about how The Lanby can be your personalized long term health and wellness partner.
Explore other articles
Say Ahhhh! The Benefits of Tongue Scraping
What is tongue scraping, its benefits, and how to incorporate it into your morning routine.
Be the CEO of Your Own Health
The Lanby’s Co-Founder and CEO, Chloe Harrouche, explains why it pays to invest wisely in your employees health and wellness.
A Quick Guide To Couples Therapy
Anna Zelig, LCSW, walks us through the How, When, What and Why of couples therapy.
Birth Control for PCOS: What to Choose?
Learn about what PCOS is, which types of birth control are best for treating symptoms of PCOS, and effective lifestyle changes for PCOS and ovarian function.
Chloe’s Corner: My Fitness Regimen
The Lanby’s Co-founder and CEO, Chloe Harrouche shares her workout routine.