Everybody poops—so says the iconic children's book. Even though going Number 2 gets a bad rep as one of the grosser things about the human body, it really is a good thing.
Regular trips to the bathroom show that everything's working smoothly in your digestive tract, after all. (Plus, they're a good excuse to catch up on reading.)
In fact, missing out on your morning constitutional could mean something's awry. One easy way you can keep things moving smoothly? Take a closer look at your diet. Just add in a few of these eight foods and everything should run like clockwork.
Okay, okay, this one isn't technically a food. But good old H2O is the key to healthy digestion and regular trips to the bathroom. When the body becomes dehydrated, the intestines soak up any liquid they can get from the food you eat. And that totally stops everything up.
Avoid any digestive hiccups by drinking plenty of water each day—between half an ounce to an ounce per pound of your body weight.
2. Green vegetables
There's a reason why mom always told you to eat your vegetables—they're great for you and great for digestion. Many veggies—think spinach, broccoli, and other leafy greens—are high in insoluble fiber. Since the body can't break down this type of fiber, it passes through the intestines undigested and has a sort of cushioning effect. This helps waste pass through the body smoothly and easily—no more sitting on the toilet for ages waiting for something to happen.
Like broccoli or Brussels sprouts, prunes are high in insoluble fiber. These dried plums have something else working for them, too—sorbitol. Sorbitol, a sugar alcohol often used to artificially sweeten foods, occurs naturally in prunes and has a mild laxative effect. Combined with 12 grams of fiber per cup, prunes' sorbitol content will have you sitting pretty in no time.
4. Whole grains
Yep, we're talking about fiber again. Whole grains are a great source of fiber because they haven't been processed or broken down—the grain remains intact, meaning you get the bran, germ, and endosperm. And in addition to the insoluble fiber we've already talked about, some grains like oats also contain soluble fiber, which slows digestion and helps the body mine all the nutrients from food. Suffice it to say quinoa, amaranth, millet, barley, and whole wheat are all great for digestion.
Surprise surprise, flaxseeds are also rich in fiber! But these tiny seeds also boast mucilage—a naturally occurring gooey substance that expands when it comes into contact with water, effectively shepherding poo smoothly through the digestive tract.
Okay, we're noticing a trend here: Fiber is really, really good for your stomach, intestines, and heck, your whole digestive system—and black beans clock in at 15 grams of fiber per cup.
7. Fiber-rich fruits
Bored by broccoli and beans? No problem. Pears, citrus fruits, raspberries, strawberries, bananas, peaches, and plums all contain lots of fiber as well. So there are plenty of options for foods that help keep things moving right along.
Remember those infamous Jamie Lee Curtis yogurt commercials? There's a reason why that yogurt company (who shall remain nameless) hired a big-name actress to talk about her digestive irregularity on TV: probiotics. Most yogurts contain live probiotic cultures, which can replenish the healthy bacteria in the gut and keep the digestive tract working perfectly. Just make sure you buy yogurt with "live and active cultures."
Illustration by Karley Koenig