Keeping yourself regular is the cornerstone of a healthy life. It rids the body of toxic waste and keeps the digestive tract moving smoothly. Did you know healthy digestion has been linked to better mood, weight management, a clear complexion, and a better overall wellbeing?
While nearly all bodily functions are linked to digestive health, around 70 million Americans are affected by digestive diseases. That’s partly because today many people eat poor diets and live a high-stress lifestyle. To help relieve constipation, ditch the dangerous laxatives and eat these 17 foods that make you poop!
Pick a berry, any berry, and chances are it will help get things moving in no time. That’s because most berries are a good source of fiber. For example, one cup of fresh strawberries provides 2.9 grams of fiber. The same size serving of blueberries will provide you with 3.6 grams, blackberries have 8 grams, and raspberries also have 8 grams. Fiber is essential for healthy digestion because it adds bulk to your stool, helping waste pass through the intestines and eventually exit the body. While we know the importance of fiber, according to the American Dietetic Association, the average American only gets about 15 grams daily. That’s much less than what people should be consuming. Women should eat between 21 to 25 grams of fiber a day and men should try to eat between 30 to 38 grams. The American Academy of Family Physicians recommends eating at least two cups of fiber-filled fruits and vegetables each day.
Along with fiber, berries also contain a high water content and can help keep you hydrated. Often times, constipation is caused by dehydration.
Additionally, berries are low in calories. So if you’re watching your weight, berries are a great option. One of the best ways to eat berries is to mix them together and create a berry salad. You can also toss them into a blender and whip up a healthy and delicious smoothie.
Not only will berries help you poop, they’re also loaded with antioxidants that can help give you energy and protect your body from free-radicals.
Your grandma’s remedy for constipation remains one of the most effective natural treatments today. Of course, I’m talking about prunes! Both prunes and prune juice have been proven effective at relieving constipation. In one study, participants were given a daily dose of either dried plums or psyllium. They then tracked their bowel movements for several weeks. Researchers found dried plums to be more effective than psyllium for the treatment of mild to moderate constipation. They recommend prunes as the first treatment option if you are hit with mild to moderate bouts of constipation.
Dried or Fresh
When you eat dried prunes you’ll be getting much more fiber than you will if you eat a fresh plum. Prunes will almost certainly help with constipation, and while plums may offer some vitamins and nutrients, they may not be enough to make you poop.
3) Dried Fruit
So we just went over the benefit of eating prunes (AKA dried plums), but that’s not the only dried fruit that can offer you constipation relief. There are a number of dried fruits that benefit digestion because the drying process concentrates all of the nutrients in the fruit, including the fiber. Popular dried fruits with respectable amounts of fiber include banana chips, dried apricots, dried apples, dried peaches, and dried cranberries.
Along with a high-fiber content, all of the dried fruits I just mentioned will offer you additional benefits. Many contain various vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that will help boost your energy and provide you power to get through the day.
To find out how you can make your own dried fruit, watch this short video:
Watch Your Sugar Intake
Dried fruits contain concentrated amounts of everything fruits contain, including the sugar. So, while dried fruits are healthy, you’ll definitely want to watch out that you don’t overdo it with the dried fruit. It’s pretty easy to eat a full day’s worth of sugar and carbohydrates in one sitting. Take your time as you eat the dried fruit and really chew it up.
There’s a reason people use the phrase, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Apples are a nutrient-dense super fruit that benefits the body in many ways. One of the most notable benefits is helping to keep the digestive system functioning properly. Along with preventing and relieving constipation, apples have also been known to relieve bouts of diarrhea. That’s because the fiber in apples acts as a bulking agent that firms up the stool. This helps to move waste through your digestive system if you’re constipated and firms up the stool if you have diarrhea.
Speaking of the fiber in apples, the popular fruit contains a type of soluble fiber called pectin, which works by binding to fatty substances in the digestive tract (including cholesterol) and promoting their elimination.
Aside from being a high-fiber food, apples fight inflammation and boost energy. Since lack of physical activity is a main contributor to constipation, a boost of energy could help keep you active and release any trapped stool from the digestive system!
Cooked Apples in Winter
Apples make the perfect snack all year long. While biting into a cool apple in the hot summer months is extremely refreshing, apples are also delicious when they’re served hot. During the cold winter months, bake apples and sprinkle some cinnamon on top! Apples are harvested in the fall and this is the best time to eat them from local organic farmers in your area.
There are a wide variety of beans — pinto, lima, kidney, navy, black, etc. While they each contain a slightly different amount of fiber, they are all great sources. There have been numerous studies linking beans to improved digestive health. Additionally, since they are a carbohydrate and digested slowly, beans help keep you feeling full for longer.
While beans are a staple in some cuisines, they are extremely versatile. Add beans to soups or enjoy them as a side dish. They taste great alongside a protein-packed meal.
Beans are not only a good source of fiber, they’re also full of vitamins and minerals your body needs to carry on its many functions each day.
Adding lentils to your plate is one sure way to avoid constipation in the first place. They’re a good source of insoluble fiber that also helps prevent digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and diverticulosis.
Along with fiber, lentils are chock full of other vitamins and minerals that help the body function properly.
Fit Into All Diets
Lentils are often listed on the approved foods list of popular diet programs. Lentils make a great side dish because they’re a carbohydrate that’s referred to as a “slow carb” and they rank low on the Glycemic Index, meaning they can help you regulate your blood sugar levels.
Preparing lentils is easy, it’s just a matter of boiling them until they soften to the desired tenderness. They keep well for multiple days, so you can make a bigger batch than you need and they’ll be ready to go for a quick side.
7) Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are a surprisingly good source of fiber and will help keep you regular. Popular nut choices include almonds and cashews. Some good seed options include pumpkin and sunflower.
You may see nuts and seeds mentioned on lists of foods that claim to cause constipation, however, this is anecdotal. As long as you drink enough water along with eating nuts and seeds, they should help keep you regular. It’s important to note that eating any of the high-fiber foods mentioned on this list without getting enough water can lead to constipation.
It’s extremely easy to incorporate nuts and seeds into your regular diet. They’re very versatile, making a great salad topper or portable snack.
A Source of Healthy Fat
Along with being a great source of fiber, many nuts and seeds contain healthy fats that benefit overall health.
Eating broccoli on a regular basis is one of the best ways to prevent constipation. Just one stalk of broccoli will provide you with about 4 grams of fiber. Additionally, broccoli is 89 percent water. Since broccoli isn’t necessarily juicy, you may not have even realized it has such a high water content. This healthy veggie, however, is a great food to help hydrate your body.
If you eat broccoli with the hope of relieving or preventing constipation then it’s best to eat it raw, since cooking it can reduce the fiber content. If you don’t like raw broccoli, however, your best bet is to steam or boil it!
So Good for You
Broccoli is often referred to as a superfood veggie and for good reason. It’s not only a great way to stimulate your digestion, it provides important vitamins and minerals that improve overall health. For example, broccoli contains nearly two-times more vitamin C than an orange. Just a one cup serving gives you more vitamin C than you need for the entire day, keeping your immune system purring.
Broccoli is also considered a cruciferous vegetable. This family often makes the news for its various links to cancer prevention and improved heart health. Other cruciferous vegetables include kale, cabbage, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts.
9) Leafy Greens
Kale, spinach, cabbage, and lettuce are the perfect roughage for your colon. Not only are leafy greens a great source of fiber, they also provide plenty of magnesium. Nearly 80 percent of American’s are magnesium deficient and this can have a negative impact on digestive health. If you don’t get enough magnesium in your diet, it’s hard for your stool to easily move through your system. Plus, magnesium is a natural muscle relaxer, which can help stop abdominal cramping.
Adding fiber-rich artichokes to your daily diet can help boost the production of digestive bile, fight inflammation, improve gut bacteria, prevent constipation, and relieve other symptoms of related digestive diseases. Studies have also shown that artichoke leaf extract can relieve Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) symptoms. IBS is a common condition that causes constipation, diarrhea, bloating, and upset stomach.
While artichokes can benefit your digestive health in numerous ways, avoid the temptation of making spinach artichoke dip. Even though both spinach and artichokes are good sources of fiber, the cheese added to this popular dip has been known to cause constipation.
How To Eat Artichokes
You can find fresh artichokes in the produce section of your local grocery store or health food store. Once you pick out the perfect one you can steam, boil, or bake it. Artichokes can be served as an appetizer or side dish. You can simply pull off the leaves, dip them in olive oil, and then eat them. You can also make a stuffed artichoke!
11) Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts are loaded with fiber, have a high water content, and contain other vitamins and minerals that benefit digestive health.
Additionally, like I mentioned earlier, Brussels sprouts are part of the cruciferous vegetable family. They also boost the immune system and have anti-cancer properties. By eating Brussels sprouts you aren’t just helping yourself in the short term, but also in the long term!
Tasty Way to Prepare Brussels Sprouts
Use fresh Brussels sprouts and place them in a baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes checking for softness.
12) Sweet Potatoes
Like many of the other foods on this list, one benefit of sweet potatoes is their high fiber content, which can help prevent constipation and get things moving again like they should. Sweet potatoes contain four grams of fiber in a one-cup serving, which translates to about a tenth of what you need each day. That’s a pretty good chunk of your recommended daily fiber intake!
Serve Them Many Ways
Sweet potatoes can be eaten mashed, baked, or roasted. You can even make your own healthy sweet potato fries!
You might be aware that oatmeal benefits heart health by lowering bad cholesterol levels and regulating blood pressure, but it’s also great for keeping your digestive system moving smoothly. Oatmeal is yet another high-fiber food that helps prevent and relieve constipation. Steel-cut oats have risen in popularity in recent years and are a whole-grain version of oatmeal that contains about twice as much fiber as rolled oats. If you’re not a fan of oatmeal, you might consider trying steel-cut oats since you’ll have to eat half as much to get the same amount of fiber.
The Perfect Breakfast?
Eating a nice bowl of oatmeal is a great way to start the day. To liven up the taste a bit try adding fresh fruit. Also, have you ever heard of overnight oats? They are simple to make, extremely nutritious, and are sinfully delicious! Plus, don’t forget about granola. Homemade granola is incredibly easy to make and is way healthier than the store bought stuff.
14) Brown Rice
If you’ve been avoiding rice because you’ve heard it promotes constipation, it’s time to welcome brown rice back into your diet. This is the unprocessed version of rice and is a whole grain. Whole grains can help you maintain regularity and avoid bouts of constipation altogether.
A one-cup serving of brown rice gives you 3.5 grams of fiber, which is 14 percent of what you’re recommended to eat per day. Meeting your daily requirement of fiber is an important factor if you’re looking to treat or prevent constipation.
Brown rice contains antioxidants that you just won’t find in white rice. This is because white rice is processed and stripped of many nutrients.
Avoid White Rice
White rice is known to cause constipation. One of the main differences between brown rice and white rice is their fiber content.
15) Aloe Vera
Every summer when you get a sunburn, chances are you head down to the store, pick up a bottle of aloe vera gel, and rub it on your skin. If you think relieving sunburns is all aloe vera is good for, though, think again. Ingesting the gel from the inside of an aloe vera leaf can have a major impact on your digestive tract. That’s because it increases intestinal water content, stimulates mucus secretion, and contains enzymes that help the body break down food. These factors contribute to regular bowel movements!
Not All Aloe Is Edible
It’s important to note that you cannot simply go into a grocery store and pick up a bottle of aloe vera sunburn relief gel and drink it! Those products are loaded with chemicals and are toxic if ingested.
Instead, get an edible aloe vera plant, open one of the leaves, and scrape out the gel. Add one-to-two tablespoons of the gel to water, coconut water, or fresh juice.
NOTE: Don’t overdo it on the aloe vera gel juice. It should not be ingested in high doses because it can cause stomach cramps and diarrhea.
16) Probiotic Foods
Probiotics are good bacteria that live inside the digestive tract. Maintaining a balanced gut bacteria is key for regular bowel movements. For people with digestive issues, doctors have found unbalanced gut bacteria plays a large role. Proof of that lies in fecal transplants. A fecal transplant is a procedure where stool is taken from a healthy donor and placed into an ill patient’s colon. It may sound gross. Ok … it does sound gross. But the point of the procedure is to repopulate the ill patient’s gut with healthy bacteria. According to a study published in the journal of Gastroenterology Hepatology, fecal transplants have a 93 percent success rate in curing and/or healing digestive issues.
Okay, so now that we’ve talked about fecal transplants let’s talk about food. Great segway, right?! Probiotic-rich foods include:
- Live-cultured yogurt
- Miso (miso soup)
- Apple Cider Vinegar
17) Prebiotic Foods
In order for probiotics to thrive in the digestive tract, they need to eat. This is where prebiotics come into play. Prebiotics are a non-digestible form of fiber that acts as food (or fertilizer) for probiotics. Some of the top prebiotic foods include:
- Chicory Root
- Jerusalem Artichoke
- Dandelion Greens
When many people get backed up, rather than turning to foods that make you poop, they turn to laxatives. While laxatives can offer fast relief, it’s important to note they don’t fix any underlying digestive problems and should never become a go-to source. It’s easy for your body to become dependent on laxatives and overuse can cause serious health issues such as damage to the digestive tract, inability to produce enough digestive enzymes, constipation, diarrhea, weight changes, heart disease, and even death. So next time you’re backed up don’t reach for a dangerous laxative. Instead, try eating the 17 foods mentioned on this list!