If you're having fewer than three bowel movements per week, Johns Hopkins Medicine defines that as constipation, which affects roughly 4 million people in the United States alone.
This uncomfortable pause in your pooping schedule can be caused by gastrointestinal disorders, like irritable bowel syndrome, dehydration, or a lack of physical movement.
Whatever the reason, constipation is definitely a struggle.
And while there are a number of remedies to help relieve constipation, incorporating whole foods into your diet can be a safe and natural way to help you poop when you start feeling backed up.
There are two types of fibers found in our foods, soluble and insoluble. "Soluble fibers add bulk to stool and are good for people with diarrhea," Amaral explains, "and insoluble fiber influences the GI tract and promotes motility."
Since kefir is fermented, it's generally more tolerable than other dairy products, but it's also available in nondairy varieties.
"Packed with live bacteria, it helps to colonize the gut and promote regularity," Amaral says. "Good bacteria aids in the fermentation of carbohydrates and other foods to promote health, especially gut health."
"Plain, unsweetened oats have about 4 grams of fiber per half-cup," Leah Silberman, M.S., R.D., says. "Plus, oats contain both soluble and insoluble types of fiber, which help to keep you regular."
Dietary flaxseed is most commonly consumed in three ways: whole flaxseed, ground flaxseed, and flaxseed oil.
Whether it's caused by the acidic components, the temperature, the caffeine, or all factors combined, it's no secret that coffee can make you poop.
Singh says that both waking up and eating stimulate the GI tract, so drinking a cup of coffee first thing in the morning might help you poop.
Surely this isn't the first time you've heard about prunes or prune juice making you regular, but a reminder can't hurt.
Functional medicine doctor Elizabeth Boham, M.D., M.S., R.D., always travels with organic prunes to prevent constipation.
"They’re very high in fiber," she tells mindbodygreen. "Many people need only three to four prunes to have regular bowel movements."
Registered dietitian Lea Basch, M.S., R.D., says popcorn is a "satisfying and filling snack because it's a whole grain and contains fiber."
Three cups of air-popped popcorn contains about 3.6 grams of fiber.
Not only does it speed up your digestion, though; corn also provides "B vitamins, zinc, copper, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, manganese, and polyphenol antioxidants," Basch says.
OK, so water's not a food, but dehydration often leads to constipation. "Without enough water, you won't be able to expel the poop out," Amaral explains, so drinking plenty of fluids will help manage constipation.
Incorporating these foods into your diet, along with drinking plenty of water, can help improve regularity and relieve occasional constipation.
If you're experiencing constipation often, we recommend talking with your doctor immediately to determine the best plan for you.
Abby Moore is an editorial operations manager at mindbodygreen. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from The University of Texas at Austin and has previously written for Tribeza magazine. She has covered topics ranging from regenerative agriculture to celebrity entrepreneurship. Moore worked on the copywriting and marketing team at Siete Family Foods before moving to New York.