Having regular bowel movements is important for your health. When you’re struggling with constipation, it can be frustrating trying to get things moving again. Certain drinks may help stimulate bowel movements by drawing water into your digestive tract, stimulating gut muscles or nutrients that promote healthy digestion. Here’s an overview of some of the top drinks that can help you poop when you’re backed up.
Drinking enough water is crucial for healthy bowel function. Water helps soften stool so it passes more easily. Dehydration can lead to constipation because your colon pulls water from stool to maintain hydration, resulting in harder, drier stool that’s difficult to pass.
Drinking water helps replenish fluid levels in the body, allowing the colon to keep stool soft and promote regular bowel movements. Aim for 1.5-2 liters of water per day.
Prune juice is a classic constipation aid. Prunes contain sorbitol, a sugar alcohol with natural laxative effects. Sorbitol isn’t well absorbed in the small intestine, so it draws water into the colon to induce bowel movements.
Studies show prune juice can help stimulate bowel movements. In one study of 40 elderly constipated adults, drinking 8 ounces of prune juice per day for 4 weeks improved stool frequency and consistency.
Prune juice offers a sweet taste and works more gently than harsh laxatives. Drink around 4-8 ounces per day, but limit intake if you experience gas or abdominal discomfort.
Many people find that coffee helps stimulate a morning bowel movement. This is partly due to its caffeine content. Caffeine helps increase muscle contractions in the colon to move stool along.
Coffee also contains chlorogenic acids that stimulate gastric acid secretion to increase gut motility. Decaffeinated coffee may also have mild laxative effects, so components other than caffeine seem to be beneficial as well.
Drinking coffee may prompt a bowel movement within 4-9 minutes after finishing. Enjoy a cup of hot coffee in the morning to help get your digestive system moving.
Kefir is fermented milk containing probiotics, beneficial bacteria that support gut health. The probiotics in kefir can help with constipation in several ways.
Probiotics increase the presence of beneficial bacteria in your gut microbiome. This provides protection against overgrowth by harmful bacteria that can cause diarrhea. Probiotics also increase stool frequency and improve stool consistency.
Try having 1-2 cups of kefir per day. The combination of probiotics and hydration makes kefir a great option when you’re experiencing constipation.
Like kefir, yogurt contains probiotics that can help move things along. The probiotics in yogurt help balance the bacteria in your digestive tract to optimize stool frequency.
One study found that elderly nursing home residents eating 7 ounces of yogurt per day for 4 weeks had faster bowel transit time, better stool consistency and increased bowel movements compared to a control group.
Aim for a couple servings of yogurt per day. Look for brands containing live active probiotic cultures.
Chia seeds are an excellent source of soluble fiber, absorbing over 10 times their weight in water. Consuming chia seeds helps increase water content and soften stool to relieve constipation.
A study in rats found that ingesting chia seeds increased stool weight and accelerated colon transit time, indicating improved bowel function.
Try adding 1-2 tablespoons of chia seeds to smoothies, yogurt or oatmeal. Let them soak for 5-10 minutes to allow the fiber to absorb liquid and expand.
Flaxseeds also contain soluble fiber that can help you poop. Adding them to your diet may increase stool frequency and soften stool consistency.
One study gave constipated patients 4 teaspoons (20 grams) of flaxseed twice per day over 4 weeks. Stool frequency increased from an average of just over 3 bowel movements per week to almost 5 movements per week.
Sprinkle 1-2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed into cereals, smoothies or yogurt to relieve constipation.
Some people find that drinking a glass of warm or hot lemon water first thing in the morning helps stimulate a bowel movement.
Although lemon juice does not contain much fiber, it provides fluids and electrolytes like potassium that may promote gut motility. It also contains citric acid, which acts as an organic acid to stimulate gastric and colonic secretions.
Add the juice from half a lemon to a glass of warm water. Drink this every morning to help kickstart your digestion.
Drinking warm or hot liquids can help stimulate bowel movements. Research shows that drinking warm water in the morning can help improve bowel regularity.
Warm liquids help increase gastrointestinal motility and intestinal contractions. This decreases transit time and allows stool to pass more easily.
Drink warm water, herbal tea or warm broth in the morning to help ease constipation.
Carbonated beverages like sparkling water contain carbon dioxide, which helps stimulate gastric emptying and colonic transit. Drinking sparkling water may encourage a bowel movement.
One study in 29 constipated elderly people found that drinking sparkling water increased bowel movements from an average of 2.3 per week to 4.2 per week. It also reduced laxative use in participants.
Try sipping on plain sparkling water throughout the day to support healthy digestion.
Aloe Vera Juice
Aloe vera juice has a long history of use as a natural laxative. It contains anthraquinone glycosides, plant compounds that have laxative effects by stimulating bowel contractions.
One study found that aloe vera juice produced bowel movement in 59% of constipated participants compared to 22% in the control group. It increased stool frequency, softened stool and improved other constipation symptoms.
Drink 2–4 ounces of aloe vera juice once per day as needed to relieve constipation. Time the dosage well and stay near a toilet, as effects can be rapid.
Ginger root contains compounds called gingerols and shogaols that stimulate digestive juices and contractions of the small intestine. This helps speed up transit time and can relieve constipation.
Research shows that ginger facilitates emptying of the stomach and stimulates motility through the colon. It’s been used traditionally for centuries to treat gastrointestinal issues.
Steep 2-3 slices of fresh ginger root in hot water to make fresh ginger tea. Drink 1-2 cups per day to alleviate constipation.
Types of Drinks that Help You Poop
Here is a summary of some of the top drinks to help relieve constipation:
|Water||Rehydrates the colon to soften stool|
|Prune juice||Natural laxative with sorbitol|
|Coffee||Stimulates contractions; caffeine|
|Kefir||Probiotics improve gut function|
|Yogurt||Probiotics increase stool frequency|
|Chia seeds||Absorb liquid and soften stool|
|Flaxseeds||Soluble fiber increases stool bulk|
|Lemon water||Fluids, electrolytes, and citric acid|
|Warm liquids||Stimulate intestinal contractions|
|Sparkling water||Carbon dioxide stimulates digestion|
|Aloe vera juice||Stimulates bowel contractions|
|Ginger tea||Stimulates digestive juices and motility|
When to See a Doctor
Occasional constipation is normal, but if you experience chronic constipation or worsening symptoms, see your doctor to identify any underlying cause.
See a doctor if you experience:
- Less than 3 bowel movements per week
- Hard, dry stool
- Straining or pain with bowel movements
- Feeling like you can’t completely empty your bowels
Your doctor can check for any medical conditions or medications that may cause constipation. They may recommend laxatives, stool softeners, fiber supplements or other treatments based on the cause.
Simple drink tweaks like staying hydrated, sipping coffee or enjoying aloe vera juice can stimulate bowel movements when you’re constipated. Try combining a few constipation-relieving drinks for the best results.
See your doctor if lifestyle remedies aren’t working or if you’re experiencing persistent issues. With the right combination of fluids, diet changes, exercise and possibly over-the-counter laxatives or prescription treatments, you can get your bowel movements regular again.