Healthy Eating Tips

Backed Up? Try Any of These 10 Healthy Foods That Help You Poop, Fast

Photo: Getty Images / Mizina
Being backed up, or not able to poop, can be so frustrating and uncomfortable. Whenever I am in this spot, I am always heading to the store or browsing online for foods that help you poop— pront. "Constipation" is a sort of catch-all term for a few different phenomena. "Stools may be too hard or too small, difficult to pass, or infrequent—fewer than three times per week," says Brooklyn-based gastroenterologist Niket Sonpal, MD. "People with constipation may also notice a frequent need to strain and a sense that the bowels are not empty." There are a number of different causes for constipation, he says, including diet (specifically, a lack of fiber or healthy fats), lack of exercise, stress, and dehydration are some of the most common. What's "normal" for BMs varies, but in general if you aren't pooping at least every three days, you're probably constipated.

What to know about foods that help you poop

When you're dealing with some stopped intestinal traffic, changing your diet is a good first step. Consider "fiber FTW" your poop-friendly words to live by. The good news is that there are so many, very tasty, foods that help you poop. "Most dietary fiber is not digested or absorbed, so it stays within the intestine where it modulates digestion of other foods and affects the consistency of stool," explains Dr. Sonpal. There are two different types of fiber, he says, which each have their own benefits, according to Brigitte Zeitlin, MPH, RD. "Soluble fiber" is made up of carbohydrates and dissolves in water (think: fruit, oats, barley, and legumes) while "insoluble fiber" comes from plant cell walls and does not dissolve in water (think: wheat, rye, and other grains).

Getting a good mix of both is probably your best bet. Add in some healthy fats, and you'll be hitting the squatty potty in no time. With that in mind, here are 10 different foods that help you poop to...ahem, keep things moving along.

For more intel on foods that make you poop, check out this video: 

1. Water

Other than building a campfire, I don’t know when water isn’t a solution. "Make sure you're drinking water—hydration, in general, will help push things out quickly," says Zeitlin. Flatwater with lemon is her first choice, but La Croix fans, fear not: The sparkling stuff will get the job done, too. Water keeps things moving because it loosens your stool and hydrates the membranes along your digestive tract. Hydrated membranes equals lubrication, and bada bing -– you’re feeling regular again.

2. Caffeine

There's a reason why that 9 a.m. coffee has often got you running to the office bathroom by 10:15. "Caffeine is a stimulant. We always think of it as stimulating our brain in the morning, but it also stimulates your GI system," says Zeitlin. This is because, according to the medical information library Statpearls, it stimulates your “gastrocolic reflex” i.e. the signal to your body to poop.

Caffeine isn’t a fibrous food so it’s not necessarily a sign your stool is getting the right about of fiber. The chemical just trips an alarm, so to speak. So, Zeitlin says, it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough fiber and water as well.

3. High-fiber fruit

Insoluble fiber is the material your body doesn’t digest. As a result, it makes your stool bulkier and less… dense. This is good! It helps it move along and out of your body, according to the Mayo Clinic.

"You want to make sure you're eating the skin because that's where the fiber is," says Zeitlin. Some of her and Sonpal's favorite high-fiber foods? Apples, raspberries, peaches, guava, and papaya.

4. Dried Fruit... especially Prunes

Your grandma was right all along—prunes are a tried-and-true constipation remedy for a good reason. Prunes are high in fiber as well as sorbitol, says Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, RD. "Sorbitol is a sugar alcohol found in fruits which can speed up the GI system," she explained. But don't go overboard—sorbitol in excess can act as a laxative.

If prunes aren’t your vibe or texture, you can always add them to a smoothie with flavor masking ingredients like peanut butter or fruits. This is also a great chance to add other number-two-inducing foods.

5. Raw green vegetables

Yup, you guessed it—veggies have got a lot of fiber, too. "We're going to get the most amount of fiber from our veggies if they're raw, so you want to eat them salad-style," says Zeitlin. Some of her picks include broccoli, peas, spinach, kale, and artichokes, all of which are filled with fiber. If you're making a salad, add some beats for additional fiber and tomatoes for added hydration, and you'll be good to go... literally.

6. Oatmeal

That AM oatmeal habit may be doing you more favors than you realize. It's high in—you guessed it!—fiber, which can "push things out quickly," says Zeitlin. Sprinkle on some nuts, seeds, and fibrous fruits as well.

7. Yogurt and kefir

Breakfast foods really are the MVPs of bowel movements, aren't they? These two foods are filled with gut-healthy probiotics that can help soften stools, Beckerman said, helping to ease things through your system.

8. Healthy fats

"We want healthy fats to kind of lubricate your stool and intestinal linings," explains Zeitlin. Think Nuts and nut butter, which pair beautifully with all that fiber-packed fruit. Olive oil is also a great pick and will make a delicious dressing for that raw green veggie salad.

9. Beans

Beans, beans the magical get the point. Beans, Beckerman said, are full of fiber to help ease constipation symptoms. Incorporating them into your diet isn't just a gut-healthy win, they're also packed with protein and minerals.

10. Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are a great food for constipation because they are an excellent source of fiber and omega 3 fatty acids, according to the Cleveland Clinic. They’re also small and often tasteless so adding them to salads, smoothies, or even a glass of water is a great idea.

11. Tea

Some plants support your digestion and colon as well as being hydrating. Peppermint tea has stomach-soothing properties if you also have indigestion, while possessing the hydrating properties of water. Lemon verbena tea and licorice root tea have shown positive laxative effects in several studies like here and here.

12. Aloe

Aloe is a succulent plant that is often incorporated into juices and drinks, and it has shown impressive laxative properties in the text Herbal Medicines. Picking up an aloe juice or tea could really help get things moving. Just remember that you should be eating food-grade aloe, and not the topical kind.

On the other hand, according to Brigitte Zeitlin, MPH, RD, if foods that help you poop cause you to go immediately, it could be a sign of an allergy, sensitivity, intolerance, or that something was bad. So while you want to load up on foods that will move your system, you don't want anything that's going to make it happen too quickly.

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