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15 Healthy Foods That Help You Poop – Healthline

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Eating fiber-rich foods such as legumes, vegetables, and grains may help promote healthy, regular bowel movements. There are many ways to include these foods in your diet.

Constipation can be very uncomfortable and painful and may affect anyone. It’s estimated that 16 in 100 adults in the United States experience constipation. Among people ages 60 years and older, that number doubles.

Common over-the-counter and prescription remedies include laxatives, stool softeners, and fiber supplements. However, eating more foods that are high in fiber may be a safe, natural, and effective remedy.

Keep reading to discover 15 healthy foods to include in your diet that might help you poop.

How fiber helps you poop

Fiber passes through your intestines undigested, helping to form, soften, and accelerate stool.

It can be split into two categories:

  • Soluble fiber absorbs water and forms a gel-like consistency, which helps soften stool and make it easier to pass. It may also help reduce blood cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
  • Insoluble fiber passes through your digestive tract intact and helps add bulk to stool. It may also help stool pass through more easily and frequently.

Including a mix of soluble and insoluble fiber in your diet may reduce constipation, bloating, and gas.

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1. Apples

Apples are a great source of fiber. One medium, raw gala apple with skin contains 2.1 grams (g) of fiber.

Apples also contain a specific type of soluble fiber called pectin, which is known for its laxative effect.

A recent review of 16 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) suggests that pectin can help:

  • increase stool frequency
  • decrease stool hardness
  • decrease time spent on the toilet
  • decrease the need for laxatives

You can use apples as a healthy topping for foods such as yogurt, crepes, and oatmeal or enjoy them on their own as a travel-friendly and nutritious snack.

2. Prunes

Prunes are often used as a natural laxative — and for good reason.

A serving of five prunes contains 3.8 g of fiber.

Prunes also contain pectin and sorbitol, a type of sugar alcohol that your body does not digest well. It helps relieve constipation by drawing water into your intestines, spurring a bowel movement.

In a small 2022 study, researchers measured the effectiveness of prune juice for relieving chronic constipation. The 84 participants were divided into two groups — one consumed prune juice and the other a placebo.

After 3 weeks, the prune treatment group’s stool had significantly softened. After 7 weeks, their rates of normal stool were much higher.

Prunes are a great way to add a hint of sweetness to salads, meat dishes, and pilafs. A small glass of prune juice with no added sugar is also a quick way to get constipation-busting benefits.

3. Kiwi

Kiwis are an excellent food to add to your next smoothie or breakfast bowl for a tasty, high fiber treat.

One raw, medium green kiwi contains 2 g of fiber.

Kiwis have great hydration properties, such as water retention and viscosity, which may stimulate movement in your digestive tract and increase stool bulk.

One review of seven RCTs suggests that kiwis may improve weekly stool frequency and decrease abdominal straining and pain, but they may not soften stool or increase daily frequency.

More research is needed.

4. Flaxseed

In addition to various other health benefits, flaxseed has a high fiber content and promotes bowel regularity.

Each 1-tablespoon serving of flaxseed contains 2.7 g of fiber consisting of a mixture of soluble and insoluble fiber.

A small 2018 study in people with type 2 diabetes suggests that eating 10 g of flaxseed daily for 12 weeks could reduce constipation, improve blood sugar and blood fat levels, and contribute to weight loss.

And another small study in people with chronic constipation found that eating flaxseed flour with meals for 4 weeks reduced the participants’ symptoms of constipation.

Flaxseed can add fiber and texture when sprinkled onto oats, soups, and shakes.

5. Pears

Pears are versatile and easy to add to your diet. You can eat them raw or add them to salads, smoothies, and sandwiches.

They might help relieve constipation in a few ways.

First, they’re high in fiber: One medium pear contains 5.5 g of fiber.

Pears are high in sorbitol and fructose, a type of sugar that is slowly absorbed in limited amounts because large amounts are metabolized by your liver.

Like sorbitol, unabsorbed fructose may loosen stools by bringing water into your intestines. However, more research is needed to measure its full effects.

6. Beans

Most varieties of beans contain good amounts of soluble and insoluble fiber, which can ease constipation in different ways and help maintain regularity.

For example, cooked black beans boast nearly 6 g of fiber per 1/2-cup serving, and 1 cup of canned navy beans contains 13 g of fiber.

Add them to soups, dips, or side dishes for a delicious dose of fiber.

7. Rhubarb

Both rhubarb‘s fiber content and its natural laxative properties encourage regularity.

Each stalk of rhubarb contains about 1 g of fiber, which is mostly bulk-promoting insoluble fiber.

Rhubarb also contains a compound called sennoside A, which has a laxative effect. Sennoside A decreases the levels of aquaporin 3 (AQP3), a protein that controls water transport in your intestines. Decreased levels of AQP3 result in increased water absorption, which softens stool and promotes bowel movements.

Rhubarb can be used in a variety of baked goods or added to yogurt or oatmeal.

8. Artichokes

Artichokes may have a prebiotic effect, which is beneficial for gut health and maintaining regularity.

Nearly all prebiotics may be considered fibers, though not all fibers are classified as prebiotics. Prebiotics may help relieve constipation and could help improve your gut microbiome by feeding the good bacteria (probiotics) in your colon.

The authors of a 2017 review looked at 5 studies with a total of 199 participants and concluded that prebiotics may increase stool frequency and improve consistency.

In an older study, 32 participants supplemented with fiber extracted from globe artichokes. After 3 weeks, the researchers found that participants’ concentrations of beneficial bacteria had increased, while amounts of harmful gut bacteria had decreased.

One medium raw artichoke contains 6.9 g of fiber.

Artichokes are available both fresh and jarred and can be used in creamy dips, salads, and flavorful tarts.

9. Kefir

Kefir is a fermented milk beverage that contains probiotics, a form of healthy gut bacteria that may help relieve constipation and promote regularity.

Probiotics have been shown to help increase stool frequency, improve stool consistency, and reduce intestinal transit time to speed bowel movements.

In a small 2022 study, 12 children with cerebral palsy consumed kefir for 7 weeks, while a control group of 12 children consumed yogurt. Kefir was found to decrease constipation, soften stool, and increase frequency.

Kefir makes the perfect base for smoothies or salad dressings. Or you can try making a probiotic-rich parfait using kefir and topping it with fruit, flaxseed, or oats.

10. Figs

Dried figs provide a concentrated high dose of fiber. One large fig contains 1.86 g.

In a small 2016 study, researchers found that consuming fig paste may have helped speed colonic transit, improve stool consistency, and relieve abdominal discomfort in participants with constipation.

While figs can be consumed on their own, they can also be included in fruit salad or boiled into a tasty jam that goes great with bruschetta, pizzas, and sandwiches.

11. Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes contain a host of vitamins and minerals, as well as fiber.

One medium baked sweet potato with skin contains 3.76 g of fiber.

In one small study, researchers measured the effects of sweet potato intake on constipation in 57 people who were undergoing chemotherapy for leukemia.

After just 4 days, the researchers found that most markers of constipation had improved. Participants who consumed sweet potatoes may also have experienced less straining and discomfort than the control group.

Sweet potatoes can be mashed, fried, or roasted and used in place of white potatoes in any of your favorite recipes. You can also try using them as a bread substitute in avocado toast.

12. Lentils

These edible pulses are packed with fiber. A 1/2-cup serving of boiled lentils contains an impressive 7.8 g of fiber.

Eating lentils may also help increase the production of butyric acid, a type of short-chain fatty acid found in your colon. This could increase the movement of your digestive tract to promote bowel movements.

Lentils add a rich, hearty flavor to soups and salads.

13. Chia seeds

Just 1 ounce of dried chia seeds contains 9.75 g of fiber. Chia seeds are one of the most fiber-dense foods available, consisting of about 28% fiber by weight.

Specifically, chia seeds are a good source of soluble fiber, which absorbs water to form a gel that softens and moistens stool for easier passage.

According to a 2016 review, chia seeds can absorb up to 15 times their weight in water, allowing for even easier elimination.

You can try mixing chia seeds into smoothies, puddings, and yogurt to pack in a few extra grams of soluble fiber.

14. Avocados

Avocados aren’t just trendy on toast — they’re full of nutrients and may help with constipation.

One cup of sliced avocado contains 9.78 g of fiber.

Research suggests that avocados might also:

  • support healthy aging
  • decrease inflammation and cholesterol levels
  • help with constipation

Avocados are versatile. You can add them to smoothies and baked goods, eat them plain on toast, or use them as a substitute for mayo on sandwiches.

15. Oat bran

Oat bran is the fiber-rich outer casing of the oat grain.

Though it’s not as widely consumed as rolled or old-fashioned oats, oat bran contains significantly more fiber.

Just 1/3 cup of oat bran contains 7 g of fiber, with a nearly even split of soluble and insoluble fiber.

In one small older study, 15 older adults who had recently been using laxatives consumed oat bran daily for 12 weeks. The researchers compared their results with those of a control group who did not consume oat bran.

Oat bran was well tolerated and helped the participants maintain their body weight and decrease their laxative use by 59%. This suggests that it may be a safe and effective natural remedy for constipation.

Though oatmeal and oat bran come from the same oat groat, they vary in texture and taste. Oat bran works especially well when used in recipes for homemade granola and breads.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest that 90% of females and 97% of males don’t meet the daily recommended fiber intake.

One reason may be that 85% of the population doesn’t consume enough fruits, vegetables, and grains.

The recommended daily fiber intakes (in grams) for females and males are as follows:

Age Females Males
under 2 9 9
2–3 14 14
4–8 17 20
9–13 22 25
14–18 25 31
19–30 28 34
31–50 25 31
51+ 22 28

What food helps bowel movements?

Foods typically high in fiber, such as fruits, vegetables, and grains, may help:

  • increase stool frequency
  • soften stool
  • decrease time spent on the toilet
  • decrease the need for laxatives

What foods soften stool quickly?

Foods that are high in soluble fiber may help soften your stool and promote bowel regularity.

Examples include:

  • black beans
  • sweet potatoes
  • pears
  • apples
  • figs

What foods are natural laxatives?

Drinking more water and consuming more foods that are high in fiber or contain probiotics may be a natural, effective way to address constipation before trying over-the-counter or prescription remedies.

Examples of these foods include:

  • legumes such as beans and lentils
  • fermented beverages such as kefir
  • fruits such as prunes, figs, and apples
  • vegetables such as rhubarb and sweet potatoes
  • seeds such as chia seeds and flaxseed
  • grains such as rolled oats and oat bran

Constipation is a common problem that may affect most people at some point.

Though medications and supplements may help, you may be able to get back to regularity by eating a healthy, high fiber diet.

Including a few servings of fiber-rich foods each day, along with drinking plenty of water and engaging in regular physical activity, could help increase stool frequency, improve consistency, and eliminate constipation once and for all.

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