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The Best Foods to Eat for Healthy Bowel Movements

| By Jessica Bruso
The Best Foods to Eat for Healthy Bowel Movements
Beans provide fiber to help maintain healthy bowel movements. Photo Credit Liquidlibrary/liquidlibrary/Getty Images

Preventing constipation, which is defined as having fewer than three bowel movements per week, and keeping your bowel movements healthy depends a lot on what you eat. Eating more foods that are high in fiber adds bulk to your stools while keeping them soft, making them easier to pass. Aim to consume 20 to 35 grams of fiber each day from foods like whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables to avoid constipation.

Whole Grains

The Best Foods to Eat for Healthy Bowel Movements
Whole wheat bread Photo Credit momentstock/iStock/Getty Images

Switch from eating foods made with refined grains to those made with whole grains, since the refining process removes most of the fiber. For example, each cup of cooked bulgur gives you 8.2 grams of fiber, brown rice provides 3.5 grams of fiber per cup and a slice of whole-wheat bread contains 2.3 grams. Consuming more whole grains may also have other health benefits, including lowering your risk for high cholesterol, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer, according to an article published in "The Journal of Nutrition" in May 2011.

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Beans

The Best Foods to Eat for Healthy Bowel Movements
Black beans Photo Credit Joel Albrizio/iStock/Getty Images

Add beans to your soups and salads, and use them to replace part or all of the meat in chili, casseroles or other meat-based dishes. These nutritious foods also provide protein, vitamins and minerals and may help lower your risk for heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, cancer and obesity, according to North Dakota State University Extension. Each cup of boiled navy beans provides 19.1 grams of fiber, each cup of cooked lentils gives you 15.6 grams and each cup of canned kidney beans contains 13.6 grams.

Fruits and Vegetables

The Best Foods to Eat for Healthy Bowel Movements
Artichoke Photo Credit Frank Cutrara/iStock/Getty Images

Add more fruits and vegetables to your diet, filling about half of your plate with these healthy foods at each meal. Exceptional sources of fiber include artichokes, with 14.4 grams per cup, thawed frozen raspberries, with 11 grams per cup, Asian pears, with 9.9 grams each, and cooked peas, with 8.8 grams per cup. Fruits and vegetables not only provide fiber, but they are also good sources of vitamins A and C, folate and potassium.

Considerations

The Best Foods to Eat for Healthy Bowel Movements
Drink water Photo Credit Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images

Increasing your fiber intake too quickly may increase your risk for intestinal problems like gas and bloating. Add fiber into your diet gradually, increasing your water consumption at the same time, to avoid this. Exercising regularly will also help keep your bowel movements healthy, since it helps stimulate activity in your intestines.

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author image Jessica Bruso
Jessica Bruso has been writing for the Internet as an independent consultant since 2008. She holds a master of science degree in food policy and applied nutrition and a bachelor of arts degree in international relations, both from Tufts University.
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