Doctor's Note

Who can forget the Bristol stool scale? Even if you’ve already seen it, you may want a refresher: Bristol Stool Scale. And while we’re on the topic, here are some other videos on optimizing bowel function:

Prunes may also help improve the health of our skin—see Beauty Is More Than Skin Deep.

In general, we should try to get our nutrients from whole food, not supplements (see Some Dietary Supplements May Be More Than a Waste of Money).

See my previous video, Dried Apples, Dates, Figs, or Prunes for Cholesterol? for a comparison of prunes to other dried fruit in terms of cholesterol-lowering capacity. And, if you’re worried dried fruit may be too calorically dense, my next video, Do Fruit & Nut Bars Cause Weight Gain? should help put your mind at ease.

For more context, you can refer to my associated blog posts: Best Dried Fruit For CholesterolBest Treatment for ConstipationRaisins vs. Energy Gels for Athletic Performance; and Flax Seeds for Diabetes.

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  • I always wanted to be the tops at something! Hooray! Were #1!

    • Thea

      As Dr. Greger says, “We’re #1 at #2”. ;-)

      • Love it! Nothing like a good poo pun! :) That Dr. G sure does have a good sense of humor.

    • LynnCS

      at #2

  • Teresa

    My whole life has changed since I eat way more and mostly vegetables. Thank you for this info.

  • invegat

    I have had IBS for over 40 years, I need the natural amount of crude fiber. I get that fiber from 1/4 cup/day Wheat Bran (AKA years ago Miller’s Bran)

  • HemoDynamic, M.D.

    What a Crappy study!
    In a good way.

  • b

    3.5 a week?! holy hell.

  • It’s true. As a vegan I help keep the toilet paper manufacturers in business.

    • beccadoggie10

      Me, too.

      I used to think I needed dairy yogurt to stay regular, but that was because I did not eat enough fiber in beans and dark leafy greens.

  • Paul C.

    What study does the 10.9 BM/week for vegans number come from?

    • Just click on the Sources Cited link above for all the linked citations.

      • Vanillahugz

        Is prune juice just as good as the whole fruit?

        • Fruit always has more fiber than fruit juice. Search for his juicing video.

  • mgibson

    Invegat……I also was a long time sufferer of IBS…..HIGHLY recommend the book Irritable Bowel Solutions by John Hunter, whose advice has solved my problems.

  • Matt Maggiacomo

    Since going vegan in July, I now have one very smooth, stress-free bowel movement every morning at about 7:30am. Also, thank you so much for these videos. They’ve helped a lot!

  • Editor d

    To quote Anthony Hopkins playing Kellogg in the film Road to Wellville, “They’re huge and smell no more than a hot muffin.” That’s what a plant diet has done for me.

  • How many prunes was it?

    • riodreamer

      Yes, I would also like to know how many Prunes a day/week each of the study participants ate?

  • Bruno Lacombe

    Any research on coffee and bms?

    • Yes, I’d be interested in knowing this as well. Eating a mostly plant-based diet and a cup of joe in the morning really seems to help me with regularity.

      • Mirandamom

        Coffee works great for me!

  • Everybody poops — we vegans are just better at it. ;)

  • Coacervate

    “Whoever invented prunes must have been a genius!”

  • Mike Quinoa

    I had my 0.9 BM this morning.

  • Kerry

    Stewed prunes work even better!

  • kk

    Thanks. Great video. Was just trying to talk someone out of supplements and into more whole foods. Science always helps.

  • Poohbah1

    Vegans are the shit!

  • LynnCS

    I’ve lived a life of struggling with off and on bad eating habits all while claiming to be a vegetarian. Finally, I made the decision to never eat anything except whole, high fiber foods. No more dairy or vegetarian junk. It’s taken a couple years to go all the way and start to heal a sick gut. It’s working…Yay, Vegan! Oh, and about the prunes. I’ll take them over all the horrible medications any day. Fresh is best.

  • So the appropriate slogan might be “At least vegans aren’t FOS?”

  • Ronald Chavin

    Prunes can be effective for treating constipation but they are inferior to psyllium. Here’s why: (1)Prunes contain large amounts of the cancer-causing growth hormone, IGF-1. (2)Although eating prunes will cause less weight gain than the calories that they contain would predict, they are still extremely high in sugars, extremely high in calories, and prunes will cause weight GAIN, not weight loss. (3)Prunes are expensive compared to psyllium capsules or psyllium powder, which comes in cylindrical canisters. (4)Psyllium has been shown to cause substantial weight LOSS by feeding the good bacteria, reducing the absorption of calories from fats and sugars, and by speeding bowel transit time. (5)Psyllium has been shown to lower colorectal cancer risk in humans by about 20%. (6)Because psyllium is less fermented than other plant fibers, it causes less flatulence than other plant sugars, starches, and fibers. (7)Psyllium is sugar-free and has been shown to be heart-healthy. (8)Psyllium has been shown to work better than docusate sodium, which is what medical doctors still prescribe.

    Psyllium works faster for constipation than docusate sodium or prunes because soluble fiber can soften bowels that are already hard. If you need even quicker relief than psyllium, use gum arabic (a.k.a. Acacia Senegal or acacia gum), which is a less viscous soluble fiber than psyllium. However, for maximum weight loss benefit, use glucomannan soluble fiber (from shirataki noodles, konnyaku blocks, or sukiyaki) because it has a higher viscosity than mucilage soluble fiber (psyllium). Diarrhea washes away the weightloss-caising good bacteria and strengthens the weightgain-causing bad bacteria. Acacia gum can easily cause diarrhea. Glucomannan soluble fiber is the least likely to cause diarrhea. Mucilage soluble fiber (psyllium) can cause diarrhea but only if used in large quantities.

    • Ronald Chavin

      Wikipedia mentions another diasadvantage of prunes.
      Prunes contain substantial quantities of the neurotoxin, acrylamide, which forms in all dried fruits (especially in prunes and in pears) during the drying process with hot air :

      The Environmental Working Group says that prunes contain more pesticide residues than most other fruits or vegetables:

      • Leslie

        Is acrylamide an issue if the fruit is sun-dried, and not machine/oven-hot air dried?
        I doubt IGF issue with sun-dried dates and raisins. Maybe you know.

  • Hawkeye

    How many prunes should one consume dauky?

  • Lovetheanimals

    I’m a vegan and am chronically constipated!!! Eating prunes, kiwifruit, broccoli, and pears (I read these help.) What else can I do?

    • Toxins

      Do you consume whole unrefined plant foods or do you consume processed foods, such as white flour, mock meats, etc. Being constipated as a vegan is quite strange if your following a whole foods plant based diet.

    • Brooke Schneider

      Water is a major factor! Timing is very important too! Drink 10-16 ounces in the morning when you wake up before you eat anything!
      Your body needs to be rehydrated!
      stay hydrated throughout the day by continually drinking water.
      At night drink a glass of water before you go to bed (as much as you can without having to wake up in the middle of the night).
      Water recommendations: Take your body weight and divide it by 2

      Ex: A person weighing 200
      pounds should drink at least 100
      ounces of water each day.

      If overweight use your ideal body weight calculation found here:

    • sanso

      Drink MORE water. If you are vegan, you should not be constipated…

  • Mark Kuntz

    I punch my daily food intake into and it tells me I get right around 100 grams of fiber a day. I have at least 20 BMs a week. Been a vegan for just over a year and love everything about it.

    • Thea

      Mark: Nice! Thanks for sharing.

  • BettB

    1.7 a WEEK??? OMG those poor people. I can’t imagine. I hope I never find out what that’s like.

    • GNUisance

      I used to be like that. Now, I go once a day, but it’s still the same sad consistency and size. :(

      • sanso

        water…water and probiotics supplements (if you are not vegan, yogurt mixed with psyllium husk is great).

  • Gail

    How many prunes are needed daily to be effective ?

  • Lily

    I find that taking freshly ground flax seed, about 1 tablespoon in a small amount of fresh juice or water daily really helps me a lot, and also drinking lots of water. It also reduces appetite by making me feel fuller, so I eat less too!

  • Joseph Roolins

    I’m certainly very happy to read this blog site posts which carries
    plenty of helpful data, thanks for providing such information.James

  • john tiffany

    aren’t psylium seeds a whole, plant-based food? I am not talking about the mucilage alone. I imagine the seeds are available and would contain significant amounts of protein, good oils and other nutrients as well as fiber, right?

    • sanso

      I think so. psyllium husk is grown in farms and it grows in India (I get it in bulk). You can buy it in Indian grocery store. Add a small teaspoon with water and drink it immediately as it starts to bulk up within seconds…and becomes jello like, impossible to drink. One caceat, if you take psyllium husk, drink LOTS of water otherwise you may BECOME constipated because it will bulk up inside the gut and absorb all water like sponge. So any fiber you take (as supplement) drink water, water, water.

  • allen

    I am a 73 year old male, whom eats about 75 of my daily diet based on plants, and good fiber. On the BM daily scale of frequency I have spontaneous BM’s of 3-4 per day ! Never constipated. Eat plants and fiber, and never ever have a BM problem. Simple !

  • Walt

    I, sometimes, go 3 times a day on whole-food, plant-based diet.

    • sanso

      and vegetarian poop smells great (I have heard that)….like flowers….

  • Stephen Pickering

    We poop for all mankind.

    For justice.

  • Jantango

    I always enjoy your sense of humor, and this video made me laugh. I’ll never forget one constipation episode that lasted a week. It felt as if I was having a baby. Since going on a whole food plant based diet in 2014, I am regular and so happy just knowing my body is functioning better than ever.

  • allen cohen

    At age 18 I had a very painful hemorrhoid operation, and then rectal stretching. After I stopped screaming, I asked the doctor what do I do to prevent this from ever ever ever happening again. He said, you know what you have been eating, meat, fried foods and drinking soda. I said yes. He said well you know what you have not been eating, fruit, vegs, fiber. I said yes. He said reverse them ! I did. That was 55 years ago ! I eat 2+ pounds of fresh fruit and vegs, and natural fiber, every single day. Very little meat, some broiled wild fish, and lots of fresh home made soups. I have a BM 3-4 times per day, and have not had a problem going to the bathroom for a BM, ever since ! Simple solution. Listen to Dr. Greger, and you cannot go wrong. At age almost 74, I have no medical problems. Oh, and I go to the gym, 7 days per week, for a full hour, and I work out hard ! Of course I do not smoke, do drugs, or drink any alcohol, except a glass of dry red wine, only when I dine at night. Good nutrition, and exercise really works !

    • Cathleen

      Thanks for sharing your story. Congratulations on all your healthy habits!

  • allen cohen

    I am a 74 year old white male. I eat 2-3 pounds of raw fruits and vegs per day, plus lots of fiber supplements. Broiled fish 2-3 times per week. Don’t smoke, don’t drink hard liquor. I do have a glass of dry red wine with my dinner nightly. On the subject of BM. I have 3-4 good BMs per day. Have not been constipated in probably 40 years. I do go to the gym every day for one hour and I work out hard. Dr. Greger’s recommendations for a healthy life works 100 % of the time, all of the time. Do it and have a great life !

  • sanso

    Mine is even higher. several times a day :-)

  • sanso

    meat eater poop is stinky and vegetarian poop is good smelling.
    Taking magnesium supplements will make you poop too. loose.