01/03/2024
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Whether it’s munching on popcorn while catching up on your favorite TV shows or munching on some chocolate to get through your afternoon slump, chances are you snack throughout the day.

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If that sounds familiar, you’re not alone: ​​Almost everyone snacks. Nearly 75% of people said they snack at least once a day, according to the International Food Information Councils 2022 Food and Health Survey. People are more likely to snack because they’re hungry or thirsty, or just because they want a snack. The most common snacks, the survey revealed, ranged from fruit to dairy products, nutrition bars to donuts, candy to savory snacks.

Unfortunately, what you choose to snack on—candy and salty snacks—might interfere with your digestive system, leading to constipation and other gastrointestinal problems. But some snacks can actually help you poop and keep you regular.

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When choosing snacks that can aid digestion, it’s important to look for foods high in fiber, water, and nutrients that support gut health, she says. Dr Pratima Dibba, MDa board-certified gastroenterologist at Medical Offices of Manhattan.

Grazing on gut-healthy foods is a must. Candy and chips might cure boredom and give you a temporary energy boost, but they’re not the best for your overall health. These items don’t do much to fill you up, which can cause you to snack even more, overeat, and have irregular bowel movements.

So which snacks will help you poop? Medical experts share some of their favorites.

The best snack to help you poop

Snacking on any type of fruit will help you poop. That’s because fiber is the no. 1 nutrient you need to poop, says Dr. Dibba. Fiber helps keep the digestive system functioning properly, promoting regular bowel movements.

Vegetables can help, too, as both food groups are high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and you probably aren’t getting enough of them: Only 10 percent of Americans eat the recommended 1.5 to 2 cups of fruit and 2.5 to 3.5 cups of vegetables a day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Related: The best fruit to help you poop

Eating multi-colored foods provides the vitamins and nutrients you need, she says Dr. Andrew Boxer, MDgastroenterologist at Gastroenterology Associates of New Jersey.

All fruits and vegetables contribute to your daily fiber intake, and you need 30-35 grams of fiber each day. Raspberries, pears, apples, peas, broccoli and leafy greens contain the most fiber, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Most fruits and vegetables also act as a prebiotic, providing a food source for intestinal bacteria and helping regulate bowel movements. Nuts and seeds, such as almonds, walnuts and flaxseeds, are also high in fiber and healthy fats, proteins and several nutrients, explains Dr. Dibba.

Balanced snacks that contain carbs, protein and healthy fats are the best option since they’ll keep you fuller longer and see you through to your next meal, she says. Kathryn Robertson, PA-C, RDphysician assistant and registered dietitian at Gastro Health in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Pairing apple slices with peanut butter is one of Robertson’s favorite snacks. Both are good sources of fiber, he says. With peanut butter, you have your carbohydrates, healthy fats and proteins.

Yogurt with granola is another Robertson-recommended snack. Granola can provide fiber, healthy fats, and carbohydrates, while yogurt provides protein and probiotics, which are a source of beneficial bacteria that live in your gut and promote healthy digestion. Just look for yogurt with live active cultures, such as lactobacillus bulgaricus and streptococcus thermophilus.

Because you need to drink water too

Hydration is also essential for digestion. So while you eat your snack, drink plenty of water, urges Robertson. It helps eliminate waste from your body, which means it will help you poop.

Related: This drink will help you poop

As a dietician, when I counsel people, it’s truly amazing how few people actually drink the recommended amount of water per day, she says.

The amount of water you need each day varies depending on several factors, such as your size and activity level. In general, most people should aim for 2 to 3 cups of water per hour and even more if they sweat a lot, according to Harvard Medical School.

Which snacks should you avoid for digestive health?

There are many foods that can wreak havoc on your digestive system, causing constipation and preventing you from having bowel movements.

Related: 50 Best Probiotic-Rich Foods

More important than asking what’s good for digestive health is asking what to avoid, says Dr. Boxer. I would avoid highly processed foods, such as those foods that look nothing like the ingredients they are made from.

Cookies, crackers, pastries, candies and other highly processed foods contain artificial ingredients, preservatives, excess sugar and salt, and refined grains that can be difficult for your body to break down, says Dr. Dibba. This can contribute to weight gain and increase the risk of diseases, such as liver and gallbladder conditions.

Fried snacks, like potato chips, can be high in fat, hard to digest, and cause heartburn, she adds. Fizzy drinks and spicy snacks can also cause heartburn and upset stomach.

Stuff that can sit on a shelf at a grocery store for weeks or months and not go bad, which means there are a lot of preservatives, and those are things to avoid, Robertson says.

Next, read up on the best and worst foods for acid reflux.

Sources:

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