13 Tricks To Have A Great Poop, Every Time

mbg Contributor By Lynda Griparic
mbg Contributor
Lynda Griparic is a naturopath, nutritionist, writer, and speaker living in New South Wales, Australia, with over 14 years of experience in the health industry. She specializes in gut health and weight loss, and has an advanced diploma in naturopathy, nutrition, and massage from Nature Care College.
Medical review by Marvin Singh, M.D.
Integrative Gastroenterologist
Dr. Marvin Singh is an Integrative Gastroenterologist in San Diego, California. He is trained and board certified in Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology/Hepatology.

It's a common problem that most people avoid talking about. I, on the other hand, love discussing constipation, particularly because it can be a big indicator of your current health. Constipation has many causes, from poor diet and fluid intake to the presence of a pathogen (bacteria, fungi) to emotional imbalance.

Here are my top 13 ways to help get the bowels moving right now:

1. Eat more fiber­.

Fiber, especially insoluble fiber, adds bulk to our stool, helping to move waste through the digestive system and out. According to the American Heart Association, you should aim for 25 to 30 grams of fiber every day. However, most Americans are eating barely half that—yikes.

Fiber is a type of carbohydrate found only in plants. Every meal should contain a portion of fibrous foods such as Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, chia seeds, ground flax seeds, berries, and avocado.

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2. Include foods with prebiotics and probiotics.

These guys are food and fertilizer for gut bacteria, stimulating their growth and encouraging regular bowel movements. Prebiotics, what gut microbes feed on, are found in asparagus, artichokes, green (raw) banana, and brown rice (that has cooled down) among other foods. Probiotics, on the other hand, are the actual living organisms that take up residence in our gut. You can find probiotics in naturally fermented foods like kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, and apple cider vinegar, or buy them as supplements.

Gradually increase the probiotics like fermented veggies, sauerkraut, and kimchi in your diet to let the gut adjust to a new bacterial environment. Start with 1 teaspoon with meals, increasing to 1 tablespoon.

3. Drink lots of purified water.

Water has the power to nudge waste out of your colon. This is because it softens stool, making it easier to pass. The amount will depend on your activity levels, but as a general rule aim for 1½ liters a day.

Try warm water to loosen, unblock, and welcomes muscle relaxation. Cold seizes and constricts.

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4. Follow a routine.

Routine can dramatically improve constipation. It not only signals to the body that it is time to go, but it reminds you to follow the preventive steps like drinking water. To promote a healthy evacuation, your morning may include 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in warm water upon rising, followed by a smoothie rich in fats and fiber.

Relax for 15 minutes post-breakfast, calmly plan your day ahead, read a blog post, or engage in calm conversation. Following breakfast, I usually stand and read a blog post.

5. Use a standing desk.

Sitting, particularly after eating, can slow digestion down because it compresses the abdominal organs.

Sluggish digestion can lead to constipation and an imbalance in your gut microbiome. Try standing or using a standing desk after meals instead.

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6. Add herbs and spices to your dishes­.

Certain herbs and spices can encourage digestion and elimination.

They improve overall breakdown of food and can soothe digestive discomfort. Add them to your meals, smoothies, teas, slow-cooked dishes, and salads daily.

My favorites are:

  • turmeric
  • cayenne
  • ginger
  • oregano
  • black pepper
  • rosemary
  • coriander seeds
  • cloves
  • cumin

7. Try Yin Yoga­.

Yin Yoga works on improving the health of organs, bones, joints, connective tissue, fascia, and the mind and incorporates breathwork.

Taking a class that works on the lungs and large intestine can help unlock constipated colon doors. If you've been holding on to grief and are unable to let go and move forward in life, supporting these organs can dramatically change this current reality.

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8. Do some breathwork.

When the flow of breath is labored or short, the mind becomes agitated, stress and anxiety are amplified, and not enough nutrients get to areas in your body like your digestive system.

Without breath, there is tension, blockage, and resistance. Ten minutes of breathwork daily can help regulate bowel movements. I find deep belly breathing to be most helpful.

9. Don't forget the apple cider vinegar­.

ACV improves the production of stomach acid, which means a more effective breakdown and absorption of foods and better elimination of waste.

Try 1 tablespoon of ACV in warm water upon rising or 10 minutes before meals.

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10. Swap saturated fats for unsaturated fats.

Our intestinal cell walls are made up of fat; therefore they need fats to function well. However, not all fat is created equal. Saturated fat, like the kind in fried food, will stop you up, while unsaturated fat will help keep things functioning properly.

Healthy fats such as olive and macadamia oil; avocado; oily fish; nuts; and seeds lubricate the bowels and help move waste through the colon.

11. Try acupuncture.

By stimulating specific pressure points, acupuncture can help relieve tension and get things moving. Studies have found that acupuncture can be as effective as medicinal therapy for constipation.

12. Take a magnesium supplement­.

Magnesium is a muscle and nervous system relaxant, making it perfect for alleviating constipation, stress, and anxiety. It works by relaxing the intestinal wall muscles, allowing stool to pass. I use magnesium bisglycinate as it's easily absorbed and gets to the areas I want to target before performing its magic although many use magnesium oxide or citrate.

13. Express yourself­.

Holding on to past memories or emotions can lead to anxiety and amplify stress. During stressful times it's common to hold on to our poo as well.

In Chinese medicine, when the large intestine is out of balance, it is associated with an inability to grieve and let go. As a result, our bowel movements become sluggish and we store and recycle our waste, collecting toxins, bad breath, and all sorts of funky conditions along the way.

Icon by Apple, Graphic by mbg.

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