There’s nothing worse than feeling bloated, uncomfortable, and “backed up.” Not to mention, constipation seems to pop up at the most inconvenient of times, such as when we’re traveling or stressed.
So what causes constipation? Constipation is commonly caused by a lack of dietary fiber , fluids—or both. Dr. Robin Berzin, physician and founder of Parsley Health, recommends drinking about 2 liters of water per day (here’s how to know if you’re currently drinking enough ) and according to Tracy Scott , a certified holistic health coach at Parsley Health in New York City, “you should aim for at least 40 grams of fiber a day.”
A great way to make sure you’re staying hydrated and maintaining a fiber-rich diet is to focus on eating water-rich, fiber-filled foods such as fresh fruit, cruciferous vegetables, seeds, and legumes.
Here are 10 foods that make you poop that are great for relieving constipation:
According to Scott, beetroot can be a great laxative due to its high fiber content as well as its betaine content. “Betaine is a compound found in beetroot that can also help to improve digestion by raising stomach acid levels, which will help you digest your food better and control any growth of yeast and bacteria,” she explains. It’s also kid-friendly. “I love adding this to a smoothie or making “pink hummus” for my kids,” she continues.
Like many fresh fruits, pears have high water content and have been traditionally used to relieve constipation. As the authors of a systematic review of pears and health concluded: “Pears are rich in fructose and sorbitol. In combination with dietary fiber, consumption of pears should improve gut health and prevent constipation.” Luckily, pears also make a great on-the-go snack.
“Flaxseed oil can help lubricate your system and soothe the inside of your bowels,” says Scott. In fact, a 2015 study published in the Journal of Renal Nutrition showed that “after four weeks, flaxseed oil increased the frequency of bowel movements and improved stool consistency.” You can add flaxseed oil to your salad dressings, smoothies, and sauces.
Lentils contain 11.4 grams of fiber per serving (about 3.5 ounces), making them one of the best legumes for preventing and relieving constipation. You can add them to salads and omelettes or make them into a side dish.
Chia seeds are rich in polyunsaturated fats (such as omega-3 fatty acids ), protein , calcium, phosphorus, zinc, and fiber—with 11 grams in just one ounce. They’re also extremely versatile. According to Scott: “Adding 2 tablespoons of chia seeds to your smoothie or coconut yogurt is a great way to get a daily fiber boost.” Making some other chia seed recipes, like our homemade overnight chia pudding , is another great way to incorporate them into your diet.
Almonds contain 3.5 grams of fiber per ounce, which is about 23 nuts. Almonds make a great high-fiber snack to keep on hand and can also be added to smoothies and salads. Or, if you really want to double down on the fiber, try a pear dipped in almond butter as your next snack.
You may have heard this one before, and it turns out it’s not just a myth—research has shown that prunes are one of the top foods that make you poop. In fact, a 2011 study on 40 adults with constipation found that eating 100 grams of prunes per day significantly improved stool frequency and consistency. But before you go popping prunes for breakfast , lunch, and dinner, a word of caution: Prunes do contain a lot of sugar, so they’re not a food you should necessarily rely on long-term.
Cruciferous broccoli sprouts are one of nature’s greatest health foods. And their effect on bowel movements is no exception. A 2018 study showed that consuming 20 grams of broccoli sprouts significantly enhanced defecation without any side effects. If you’re wondering how to eat broccoli sprouts, you can treat them like Alfalfa sprouts and add them to smoothies, sandwiches, and salads.
Oats contain 10.3 grams of fiber in a typical serving (about 3.5 ounces). You can add oats to your diet by adding them to baked goods—like these No Bake Peanut Butter Energy Balls —or whipping up some oatmeal or overnight oats for a fiber-rich breakfast.
“Another hidden fiber gem that I love are tiger nuts,” says Scott. According to her, they contain prebiotics , which means they are food for the good bacteria in your gut, and they have 10 grams of fiber in one ounce. Despite their name, they’re actually not a nut. “Anyone with a nut allergy or intolerance can feel free to enjoy!” she says. They’re also low-FODMAP , which means they’re a great option for those with IBS. Tiger nuts can be eaten whole, ground up in your smoothie, or sprinkled into yogurt or on top of a salad.
Constipation, especially if it’s chronic, can be a really uncomfortable experience that greatly affects your quality of life. The goods news is that getting strategic about your diet—and focusing on the above hydrated and fiber-rich foods that make you poop—can lead to big improvements in your digestion.
Gretchen Lidicker is a writer, researcher, and author of the book CBD Oil Everyday Secrets: A Lifestyle Guide To Hemp-Derived Health & Wellness. She has a masters degree in physiology and complementary and alternative medicine from Georgetown University and is the former health editor at mindbodygreen. She's been featured in the New York Times, Marie Claire, Forbes, SELF, The Times, Huffington Post, and Travel + Leisure.
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