We’ve all heard the expression “You are what you eat” and something similar can be said about our bowel movements. While an occasional bout of constipation or diarrhea may happen from time to time, choosing the right foods is an important step toward enjoying healthier, more regular poops.* Here are some quick tips:
- Focus on fiber. A healthy colon needs bulk to eliminate regularly, and fiber helps provide that bulk.* Aim for at least 35 grams of fiber each day from fruit, non-starchy veggies, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds (including chia and flax seeds) to promote healthy elimination.* Taking a daily fiber supplement is also a good way to add more fiber.
- Add fermented foods. Fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, kombucha and sauerkraut help nourish the friendly bacteria in the colon that support good digestive function and provide support for the delicate intestinal lining.* Consuming fermented foods on a daily basis also increases the diversity of your gut microbes, which in turn supports bowel health and regularity.*
- Limit sugar and artificial sweeteners. Eating too much sugar (including the hidden sugars from starchy carbohydrates) as well as artificial sweeteners may alter the bacterial balance in the gut and slow down healthy bowel function.
- Drink plenty of water. Properly hydrating the colon promotes peristalsis—the natural muscle contractions that move food through the intestines—and helps ease elimination.* A good rule of thumb is to drink at least half your body weight in ounces of purified (filtered) water each day.
Helpful tip: Don’t just sit. Squat.
A lot of folks don’t realize that how we sit on the toilet can impact how successful our bowel movements are. A natural squatting position supports the elimination process, so try to elevate your feet with a short stool when you are on the toilet.
A balanced gut supports better bowel movements*
Remember at least 70 percent of our immune system can be found in the gut, where good bacteria called probiotics work to support optimal digestion and overall health.* Eating the right foods promotes a balanced bacterial environment in the intestinal tract, which in turn helps to “keep things moving” and eliminate waste from the bowel one good poop at a time.*
Clin Exp Immunol. 2008 Sep;153 Suppl 1:3-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2249.2008.03713.x.Allergy and the gastrointestinal system.
Nutrients. 2015 Jan; 7(1): 390–404. Published online 2015 Jan 8. Inclusion of Fermented Foods in Food Guides around the World.
Hepatogastroenterology. 1998 May-Jun;45(21):727-32. Water supplementation enhances the effect of high-fiber diet on stool frequency and laxative consumption in adult patients with functional constipation.