If you’re feeling a little backed up, don’t be so quick to reach for that bottle of laxatives. They may do you more harm than good, and, in some cases, can lead to dependency. Since we’d hate to find you strung out on Ex-Lax under a bridge somewhere, here are some foods that can help you get things moving.
Surprise! Our first “food” isn’t even food. In addition to providing the lube to your entire digestive system, water has been shown to enhance the effects of high-fiber diets. So if things are a little slow, down a glass or two of water and feel your bowels get to work.
While not the sexiest of foods, prunes have a long history of being used as mild laxatives. Gastroenterologists recommend 20-35 grams of fiber a day, and each prune has almost a full gram by itself.
But please, before you go and eat 30 prunes in one sitting, keep in mind the extreme discomfort you’ll encounter if you try to introduce too much fiber into your diet at once. We’re not here to blow you up. We just want to make you poop. So take it easy.
Who knew songs about “magical fruits” could be so medically accurate? Beans contain a special type of fiber known as resistant starch, which doesn’t get digested and pushes everything else along. A half cup of navy beans has a whopping 9.5 grams of fiber, with other beans not too far behind, so if you’re OK with the gaseous prelude, beans are great poop-promoters.
Endosperm: America’s most trusted sperm since 1947. Along with endosperm, germ and bran make up a whole grain, providing the fiber necessary for a healthy intestinal bacteria balance that turns your digestive tract into a pooping powerhouse. Whole grains include whole wheat pasta, unrefined oatmeal, brown rice, and quinoa (among many others). If none of those sound enticing, try some unbuttered popcorn (yes, it’s a whole grain) for a sneaky high-fiber, antioxidant-rich snack.
No shit list is complete without vegetables, but since there are so many, we’ll just stick to a few honorable mentions. Spinach is high in both fiber and magnesium, both of which help the colon flush things through, and have been shown to relieve constipation. Broccoli is a superstar in the fiber world, and should be eaten raw for maximum digestive benefits. Again, most vegetables have some digestive benefits, so don’t force-feed yourself spinach and broccoli if they make you want to puke. Pooping is better.
If you can get over the fact that you’re essentially eating birdseed, you’ll realize why flax is so popular in the health world. Not only do flaxseeds provide high-quality fiber, they’re filled to the brim with anticarcinogenic compounds. Your body can’t properly digest whole flaxseeds, though, so make sure you buy them ground or milled.
We’ve covered coffee poops before, so there’s no surprise here. While coffee and other highly caffeinated drinks can stimulate your body to produce a bowel movement, be careful about overdoing it. As a diuretic, coffee can make poop harder to pass because it draws liquid out of your stool. If you just can’t give up that fifth cup of java, try having a glass of water between each cup to stay properly hydrated and happily pooping.
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Nick Knock is a Freelance Writer for Thrillist. You can follow him when he finally gets back on Twitter.