Constipation is one of the most common reasons for bloating and visits to the doctor, and according to the Cleveland Clinic, at least 2.5 million people visit the doctor each year for digestive problems. If you’re one of them, you’re not alone, and you’re probably not the first person to google how to poop when you’re feeling down.
To know the best way to get things moving again, you’ll want to find out what’s behind the problem. Constipation can be a result of dehydration, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), poor diet, or the side effects of various medications, says Jean Fox, MD, a Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist. Pelvic floor dysfunction is also a significant contributor and is often underrecognized, he added. If you’re wondering exactly how to tell if you have this problem, Dr. Fox says the norm is fewer than three bowel movements per week.
Constipation can be frustrating and extremely uncomfortable, but you can speed things up at home. Next time you need a quick fix, try one of these doctor’s tips.
- Eat foods high in fiber.
Fiber-rich foods with plenty of water, such as raw carrots, peeled apples, and avocados, are great sources of fiber to get things moving, says Christine Lee, MD, a gastroenterologist at the Cleveland Clinic.
“When these foods are consumed, they create an osmotic gradient,” says Dr. Lee—which means that more water is drawn into the colon during digestion, which means it can help ease and prevent constipation.
- Or take a fiber supplement.
You can get the same effect from a psyllium husk fiber supplement, says Dr. Lee. Look for an extra dose of 6-9 grams of fiber each day.
Just remember: Even if you decide to take a fiber supplement, a nutritious diet (which should include natural fiber found in food) is key. You can’t add a teaspoon of metamucil to a bottle of diet cola and expect your digestive system to function properly.
- It is more convenient to drink coffee. *hot.
When faced with the problem of how to poop, this is usually the first thought that comes to mind. Warm drinks, especially hot coffee or tea in the morning, help get things moving, says Dr. Lee.
But coffee is a must, especially for anyone who’s looking to get rid of poop first thing in the morning (especially for runners, as Dr. Lee notes, it’s more convenient to empty your stomach before hitting the pavement). The heat of coffee can move your bowels, but the coffee itself and its high caffeine content also “stimulates the colon,” says Dr. Lee.
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Coffee can be hot or cold. But other cold caffeinated drinks, such as iced tea or caffeinated sodas, don’t have the same effect.
- Get some exercise.
Ever been in the middle of a run when you needed the bathroom—STAT? You are not alone. That’s because “hiking, walking on uneven ground, running, or cycling all increase your metabolism, which in turn increases motility,” says Dr. Lee.