There’s nothing more frustrating than feeling the urge to poop—then sitting on the john and waiting … and waiting.
Constipation is one of the most common gastrointestinal problems, affecting 42 million people in the United States, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
But loading up on fiber can help keep your gut moving.
“You need fiber in your diet to help push foods through the intestinal tract,” says Sharon Palmer, R.D.N, author of Plant-Powered for Life.
Just remember to drink plenty of water throughout the day to soften your stool so that it can pass through easily, says Gina Sam, M.D., director of the Mount Sinai Gastrointestinal Motility Center.
Here are the 10 best fiber-rich, poop-prompting foods to eat when you’ve been struggling on the toilet.
Legumes, which include beans, lentils, and peas, are filled with health benefits.
“I suggest including them in the diet every day, one half cup cooked, because [they’re a] rich source of fiber, as well as protein, vitamins, and minerals,” says Palmer.
Just a half cup of beans can add between six and 15 grams of fiber to your salad, soup, casserole, or pasta, depending on the type of bean you use.
Most of us hear broccoli come up in just about every discussion of good-for-you foods. That’s because the it’s an amazing source of essential vitamins, protein, and fiber.
Eating plenty of vegetables is essential to good digestive health, says Dr. Sam. Add a cup of cooked broccoli to any lunch or dinner for an additional five and a half grams of fiber.
3. OATMEAL (AND OTHER WHOLE GRAINS)
Oats are full of soluble fiber, which helps dissolve water, softening stool and making it easier for it to pass through the intestines.
They also contain insoluble fiber, which increases stool bulk and helps get everything moving.
Palmer recommends including three servings of whole grains in your diet every day, especially “intact grains” like oats and brown rice.
One cup of spinach has four grams of fiber, and contains magnesium, a mineral that can aid in moving stool, says Dr. Sam. Magnesium is often found in laxatives, but incorporating it into your diet is a less extreme option for most people.
Throw a handful of spinach into your pasta for dinner.
Palmer recommends including a handful of nuts like pistachios, peanuts, almonds, or walnuts in your diet every day.
While they’re a great source of protein and healthy fats, just a half cup of whole almonds also gives you almost nine grams of fiber.
6. CHIA SEEDS OR FLAXSEEDS
Chia seeds and flaxseeds are an easy way to add more fiber into your diet, says Dr. Sam.
Two tablespoons of chia seeds pack an extra five grams of fiber, while the same amount of ground flaxseeds adds about four grams.
Berries are always in the superfood spotlight due to their abundance of antioxidants, but they’re also rich in other essential nutrients.
“You are eating tiny seeds in each bite, so it increases your fiber,” says Palmer.
Half a cup of both blackberries and raspberries pack in about four grams of fiber each. Half a cup of sliced strawberries offers about half the amount.
These fruits are super versatile, so throw them into your whole grain cereal and pancakes, or even add some low-fat whipped cream on top of a bowl of your favorite berries for a low-calorie dessert option.
Pears don’t get enough credit, especially because they’re bursting with antioxidants and vitamins.
They’re also one of the most fibrous fruits, so adding them into your diet is another way to ease any discomfort you may be experiencing in the bathroom.
One medium pear with the skin will grant you five and a half grams of fiber.
In this case, “an apple a day” is still golden advice.
A small apple with the skin on it contains 3.6 grams of fiber. The peels of many fruits contain insoluble fiber, which acts as a natural laxative.
10. DRIED FRUITS
If you’re looking for a healthy grab-and-go snack, opt for a dried fruit like prunes.
Sure, they sound like something your grandma would have hiding in her kitchen, but there’s a reason people turn to prunes when they’re having issues downstairs.
They’re rich in fiber (one half cup has about six grams) and contain sorbitol and fructan, which are natural sugars that have a laxative effect.