Did you know your stool gives you insight into your overall health? It’s true! Taking a peek after going number 2 can help you monitor what’s normal and what’s not. Let’s talk about what a regular bowel movement looks like and what to do if you’re struggling to produce healthy stools.
Typically, a healthy poop should be either light or dark brown. Green bowel movements usually indicate a lack of fiber. Green stools mean the food moves through the digestive tract too fast, and fiber can fix this by slowing the movement down. However, if you’ve recently eaten a lot of leafy vegetables or iron supplements, a green bowel movement is perfectly normal! You should see a doctor if your bowel movements are frequently black, red, or yellow. Black and red poops can indicate hemorrhoids or stomach ulcers, and yellow stools can indicate liver or gallbladder issues.
Healthy stools tend to be soft in texture and should be easy to pass. If you’re straining to go for more than 15 minutes, that could mean you need to incorporate more fibrous leafy greens into your diet. Stool that appears to be in hard clumps or lumpy indicates constipation, while mushy or liquid stools indicate inflammation. Diarrhea can be caused by a food allergy, an infection, or even ulcerative colitis. The Bristol Stool Chart explains how to read your bowel movement here.
The amount of bowel movements you have per day is very personal, and the number varies from person to person. However, going at least three times a week is the absolute minimum, and the ideal frequency is once a day.
Foods that Can Help
Daily bowel movements are essential to eliminate toxins and waste from the body. That’s why it’s necessary to eat fibrous foods — they help you go! Here are five of my go-to foods that help get things moving when I’m feeling stuffed up:
Flaxseeds can help you stay regular. There are 3 grams of fiber in every tablespoon of ground flaxseeds. Wow! Flaxseed actually can help to treat constipation and diarrhea, according to a 2015 study. I love throwing a tablespoon of flaxseeds into my morning smoothie for a fibrous punch early in the day. Or, I add flaxseed meal to breakfast oats, smoothies, coconut yogurt, and even into my baked goods like my sweet potato muffins.
Leafy Green Vegetables
Leafy greens are always an excellent addition to your diet, and they have so many benefits! Greens like arugula, kale, spinach, and romaine have high amounts of fiber and are also a great low-calorie option. Additionally, leafy greens are high in magnesium and make it easier to go! Magnesium can relax muscles and make it easier for waste to move through your intestines. I like to throw greens on top of avocado toast or whip together a quick lunch like my kale caesar salad.
Pears are often an overlooked fruit, but they contain a high dose of pectin fiber that improves digestion and lowers cholesterol! There are 5.5 grams of fiber and 12.5 milligrams of magnesium in a single pear! Pears are great when eaten raw and sliced or in a crumble. I love to eat poached pears topped with vanilla cashew cream for a healthy and satisfying dessert.
Artichokes are such a versatile vegetable that can help you stay regular. One artichoke has 10.3 grams of fiber and is only 63.3 calories! Wow! In addition, heart-healthy artichokes contain many antioxidants that are anti-carcinogenic. Eating artichokes improves gut flora and supports digestive bile production. This mild vegetable can also reduce inflammation, which aids the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. If you’re new to eating artichokes, I make an awesome chickpea and artichoke salad that is perfect for lunch or dinner that’s so easy to throw together.
Kimchi is a flavorful, fermented cabbage dish that originates from Korea. It usually consists of fermented cabbage and other vegetables and contains an abundance of probiotics. It’s similar to sauerkraut, but I think it’s much more flavorful and delicious! When you eat kimchi, it repopulates the good bacteria in your gut and makes it easier to have a bowel movement. The more good bacteria you have in your cut, the less likely it will be inflammation and indigestion. Additionally, kimchi is an excellent source of B vitamins. Korean researchers have found that kimchi might have up to twice as many B vitamins as fresh cabbage. To make pickled vegetables, check out my recipe here!
Whenever my digestion is feeling off, I incorporate these five foods into my diet, which usually does the trick! If you’re interested in eating more fibrous vegetables but are unsure where to start, try my delivered S.O.U.P Cleanse!