Raspberries are fiber rock stars with 8 grams per cup—that's double the amount in strawberries. "Fiber increases the bulk of your stool to help food move smoothly through the digestive system, plus it feeds good bacteria in the gut for optimal digestion," says Erica Sonnenburg, PhD, senior research scientist in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the Stanford University School of Medicine and co-author of The Good Gut. Top your morning oatmeal or yogurt with raspberries or pop 'em plain as a snack. A great way to add raspberries to healthy smoothie recipes is with this delicious berry blast recipe.
The citrus powerhouse is a triple threat—oranges pack in stool-softening vitamin C, fiber to increase bulk in your stool, and naringenin—a flavonoid researchers found could work like a laxative. Add orange segments to your salad or pack as a portable snack.
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"Staying hydrated is essential to helping things move," says Morgan. Although there are 13 Weird Places Water Ends Up In Your Body, without ample H2O, stool can't soften and move smoothly through the digestive tract. No wonder dehydration is a common cause of constipation. Drink up—sip straight H2O, add lemon or cucumber slices for extra flavor, or try one of these 25 sassy water recipes.
The fermented dairy drink is packed with probiotics—good bacteria vital to gut health—kefir has 10 times more strains of bacteria than yogurt, says Sonnenburg. "The greater diversity improves the chance that some of these microbes will be beneficial to your particular gut microbiota," she adds. British researchers found that probiotics can ease constipation, soften stools, and even increase number 2 frequency. Drink kefir on its own or include it in your smoothie recipes.
Did you ever suspect that the hidden reason behind your weight loss struggles was your digestive system? Hack your gut bacteria for easier-than-everweight loss with The Good Gut Diet.
Almonds are loaded with heart-healthy fats, protein, and fiber but it's the high magnesium content that has our intestines excited. "Magnesium neutralizes stomach acid and moves stools through the intestines," says Morgan. And just a small handful—about 1 oz—contains 25 percent of your daily dose. Almonds make the perfect portable snack or you can add almond flour to baked goods and smoothies.
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6. Black Beans
Yet another reason to make a pit stop at Chipotle. Just 1 cup of black beans has a whopping 15 grams of fiber—women need 25 grams per day—as well as magnesium and potassium for a smoother running digestive system. Add to salads, salsas, and soups, or sauté with greens.
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The age-old constipation cure is not only high in fiber with 6 grams per ½ cup, but prunes also contain dihydroxyphenyl isatin—a natural compound that stimulates the bowel—as well as sorbitol—a sugar that has a laxative effect. Plus, prunes have double the potassium of bananas. Not consuming enough potassium can cause constipation and fatigue. Chop 'em up and add to salads, oatmeal, and yogurt parfaits.
8. Leafy Greens
Spinach, Swiss chard, and kale are packed with nutrients that have poop powers, including fiber—1 cup of Swiss chard has 4 grams of fiber—magnesium to help the colon contract, and potassium–which helps regulate fluid balance and muscle contraction. Add any of these 10 leafy greens to salads, layer into sandwiches, or sauté in olive oil with garlic.
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9. Wheat Bran
No surprise that studies show wheat bran can relieve constipation and improve digestion. The outer layer of the wheat kernel is a fiber force with a whopping 25 grams per cup. Sprinkle it over your oatmeal, whip up a batch of bran muffins, or eat a bowl of All-Bran cereal.
10. Coffee, Tea, Or Decaf
One of the 9 Incredible Health Benefits Of Coffee is that it can get your bowels moving, but it's not just the caffeinated stuff. One study found that coffee—including decaf—means a bathroom visit for about 30 percent of people. Experts believe coffee's acidity is key, notably chlorogenic acid—a compound that gives java its bitter flavor. Warm liquids can give your colon a jumpstart, too, so tea or even warm water with lemon can work just as well.
This article originally published on Prevention.