Eat These 7 Foods for Free Bowel Movement

Feeling constipated? These foods can help

free bowel movements food constipation

Let us have a potty talk. 

Not everyone is lucky to have easeful defecation. 

Sometimes, people poop every other day, and some take up to four or more days to deposit the bathroom. 

If your bowel movements become less frequent, it makes stools challenging to pass through. This condition is called constipation.

The food you eat mainly plays a role in your digestive health.  

So, there are things that you have to check whether you are missing a step to ease bowel movement.

In this article, you’ll find out the importance of having a free bowel movement and the foods to eat to help you poop easily. 

How does free bowel movement help the body?

The lower tract of your digestive system composes your intestines, rectum, and anus. 

These are part of your bowels. The rectum is responsible for holding your stools. When it’s full, your brain sends a signal to your rectum that you need to defecate.

The form of your stools, the frequency you defecate, and your bowel transits tell a lot about your colon health.

Having a good bowel movement is healthy for your colon. It helps you prevent colorectal cancer, diverticulitis, and other colorectal disorders. 

Constipation is a common digestive problem that sometimes lasts up to three weeks. It’s a matter of diet and lifestyle that contributes to this condition. 

When this condition becomes chronic, you have to check your diet and lifestyle. 

You are more prone to constipation if you’re on a diet that is low on fiber and if you are physically inactive. Dehydration also increases your risk of constipation. Hence, it’s best to drink more water to ease defecation.

Research shows that people who have higher fiber intake are less likely to experience constipation. Fibers are plant-based non-digestible components that make stools softer and easy to pass throughout the digestive tract. 

Foods for a free bowel movement 

It is easy for people to treat constipation with laxatives, stool softeners, or fiber supplements. Though they are proven safe and effective, nothing beats the use of natural remedy such as consuming the following foods:

1. Vegetables

Vegetables are excellent sources of fiber. A 100g serving of vegetables can give you 1 gram to 5 grams of fiber, covering 5 – 22% of your daily value intake for fiber. 

Examples of fiber-rich vegetables include:

  • squash
  • lima beans
  • green peas
  • artichokes
  • broccoli
  • asparagus
  • spinach
  • okra
  • brussels sprouts
  • kale
  • fennel (also fennel tea)
  • eggplants
  • cabbage
  • tomatoes
  • cauliflower
  • lettuce

2. High fiber fruits

Some fruits can help prevent constipation because it is rich in fiber and high in water content. 

A 100g serving of fruits ranges from 1 gram to 10 grams of fiber, taking 2 – 42% of your daily value for fiber intake. 

Studies reveal that juices from fruits have a fiber component, which helps young children whose intestinal function is not yet fully developed. Apples, prunes, and pear juices are natural fruit juices to aid constipation. 

There’s more on the list! Add passion fruit, guava, kiwi, pomegranate, mangoes, papaya, berries, apricot, lychee, peaches, pineapple, plum, figs, kiwi fruit, citrus fruits, and watermelon.

3. Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are abundant in many parts of the world. It’s an inexpensive and tasty tuberous root that is mostly prepared as snacks. 

This tuberous root is also rich in fiber and is one of the best foods to alleviate constipation and promote free bowel movement.

A study shows that sweet potatoes effectively prevent constipation and improve defecation among leukemia patients who are about to undergo their first chemotherapy. 

A cup of sweet potato (200g) gives you 6.6 grams of fiber. That makes up to 26% of the daily value requirement for fiber. 

4. Oat Bran

The outer casing of the oat grain is called the bran. The bran of the oat contains more fiber content compared to quick oats.

A cup (49g) of oat bran contains 14.5 grams of fiber. That is already 58% of the daily value of fiber intake.

There is a study investigating the effectiveness of using oat brans instead of laxatives to the elderly group in a nursing home. It concluded that the incorporation of oat-fiber into the elderly’s diets made them stop using laxatives and show signs of improved bowel movement. 

5. Probiotics

Probiotics may not contain fiber, but these helpful if you have constipation. Also, probiotics or the good bacteria that make your gut healthy. These good bacteria also help relieves constipation.

Examples of these probiotic species are from the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species.

In a study, lactic acid bacteria are capable of preventing colon cancer by boosting the body’s immune response, adjusting the balance of the gut microbiome’s metabolic activity, and eliminating carcinogens. 

Another research revealed that probiotics could alter the microbiome and help improve bowel function among constipated pregnant women. A 300-gram dose of probiotics per day can improve the symptoms of constipation.

Fermented products are common foods that contain probiotics.

Examples of these are fermented milk, yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha, kimchi, miso, and tempeh.

6. Water

One of the signs of constipation is dehydration. Yes, an inadequate intake of water can be one of the causes of hard bowel movements.

The need to stay hydrated is essential so that your colon won’t have to hold water, and instead, it will soften your stools and allow ease of defecation. 

Together with a proper fiber diet, research shows that increasing water intake to 1.5-2.0 liters per day can significantly enhance the stool frequency among patients with chronic functional constipation.

7. Coffee

Studies reveal that the caffeine in coffee acts as a stimulant in increasing the colon’s motor activity. Caffeinated coffee can stimulate the colon 60% stronger than water and is 23% stronger than decaf coffee. 

Another study supports that drinking coffee stimulates the distal colon’s motor response, increasing motility. 

Make sure you’re not dehydrated, or the effect of caffeine will work the opposite way – it can also worsen constipation. 

Takeaway

It takes an excellent habit to have a regular and healthy bowel movement. 

Constipation is a common digestive disorder that can make you feel uncomfortable and sometimes even cause pain during defecation. If you leave it untreated, it can eventually result in severe colorectal diseases.

Stay hydrated and eat proper amounts of foods rich in fiber so that you can have a pleasant free bowel experience. 

(Registered Nutritionist-Dietitian)

Dorothy is a Registered Nutritionist-Dietitian and a candidate for a master's degree in Public Health (MPH) major in Public Health Nutrition. She has a passion for teaching to her university students about food, nutrition, and health. Dorothy is a coffee lover and she enjoys traveling, writing, cycling, running, cooking, baking, and cooking.