Doctor's Note

For more info on fiber intake and colon health, check out these videos:
Breast Cancer and Constipation
Can Flax Seeds Help Prevent Breast Cancer?
Fiber vs. Breast Cancer
Breast Cancer Survival and Lignan Intake

And be sure to check out my other videos on bowel movements

Also check out my associated blog posts: Stool Size and Breast Cancer RiskBowel Movements: the scoop on poopOptimal Phytosterol Dose and Source; and Best Treatment for Constipation.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

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  • Michael Greger M.D.

    Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. Be sure to check out the other videos on bowel movements. Also, there are 1,449 subjects covered in my other videos–please feel free to explore them!

    • LynnCS

      Hi Dr Greger. I so value the research and info you impart. I am 74 (F) and have been told that I need not have any more colonoscopies. I have spastic colon and an abundance of diverticula in spite of being a vegetarian, now vegan, for 32 years. My mother died of colon cancer. Therefore, I have been diligent about getting regular exams. Lately I am not forming full stools in spite of the high fiber diet. I have ordered some bowel treatment items from Dr. Schultze’s site. I am afraid not to have the colonoscopies. What would you suggest to a patient presenting as I am? Thank you very much. Lynn

  • GeorgeI

    Last summer I read a PDF book by a Buddhist monk discussing vegetarianism. Contrary to popular belief, Buddhism does not mandate vegetarianism for either monks or lay people. The monk who authored this book eventually decided to go vegetarian. He explained that one of the reasons why he delayed this decision was that he was turned off by a fetish that some sectors of the veg*n community has for discussing their inner workings like bowel movements, digestion, etc. He warned readers that these things could turn other people away from vegetarianism.

  • Benjamin Stone

    I have read that there are some risks with larger bowel movements, primarily poor nutrient retention due to increased size and frequency. Is it reasonable too assume there could be a risk with a diet to high in fiber that does not permit for optimal nutrient absorption?

    • Joel

      My guess is that that risk would be more due to inadequate hydration, which it never hurts to bring awareness back to. Excuse me while I grab some water…

  • BPCveg

    The suggested home experiment of consuming a bowl of beets and estimating transit time sounded like an excellent way to do simple self-diagnosis. A clever and straightforward home health check-up! I hope to hear more tips like this in future.

  • Joel

    I think transit time is a relatively old tool-of-the-trade for naturopaths. I first heard of it in the early 70s via a Marin, California naturopath but I don’t know, it may have been used for centuries. It’s easy to check in any case so the connection must have been recognized quickly by the first beet eaters though they might have panicked at first thinking it was blood.

  • Tan Truong

    Who knew that eating fruits and vegetables would cause one to drop whoppers.

  • Joel

    A good probiotic is also helpful in this regard, though not to “make up for” a trashy diet. A “good probiotic” is an operational definition: one that works for you. Since you may discover more than one that works well, over time I would rotate between those types and brands you find that work rather than getting the same one each time you buy a bottle.

    Another thing that is even more than helpful, it’s essential (learned from an Indian yoga teacher), is squatting for elimination. Can you argue with 100% natural? Essential but not sufficient of course. Diet seems to be #1. At an extreme, the former Roy Walford MD, longevity maven (calorie restriction studies) opined that the [Best Diet+No Exercise] would be better than the [Worst Diet+Good Exercise].

  • Eercolan

    I do not have large bowel movements but rather many small bowel movements throughout the day.  I eat a lot of fiber, especially raw vegetables.  Please comment.  Susan

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    Please also check out my associated blog post, Stool Size and Breast Cancer Risk!

    • Jtzwiefel

      Hi, I have an anal fissure that is almost healed (6 months now).  It is much better but still bothers me daily.  I am taking Mirlaxa ever day- i never used to, although i was often constipated from childhood.  Now my stools are much smaller than they used to be.  The less mirlax I take- the more my fissure hurts.  Do you have any ideas to help?  Thanks.

  • nick

    There may be people that aren’t aware of this, but another product that one should stay away from is bleached flour, & animal protein from meat, milk, & eggs which can get caught up in the pockets of the colon & create diverticulosis which can lead to diverticulitis. Just imagine anyone that has ever done paper mache will remember that the way they made glue is by taking bleached flour & water, then mixing it together.

  • Valeriesmom

    I have just started my plant based whole foods “diet”/lifestyle 2 weeks ago and I’ve noticed that I have alot less bowel movements??? I thought I would have more… Alot more gas but less of the other any insight would be great!!! Thanks

    • Toxins

      The opposite should be true, at least two a day. Exercise plays a key role in bowel movements as well. If you are not getting enough exercise this could be the case.

    • Liam

      Drink more water

  • Glenn

    My wife and I have changed to a whole foods plant based diet over a year a go. My wife recently had a physical and it showed that she had an over active thyroid. She has never had a problem before. What is the best way to remedy this through diet? We are both in our late 40’s.

    • Blep

      Look into adding cruciferous vegetables to your diets. I believe they’ve been associated with at least slightly reducing thyroid activity.

  • cpgraettinger

    A delicious, whole, plant-based recipe for Pasta Fagioli. And easily made in a slow cooker. Check out the fiber content of this baby!

    • justme

      Lol … my favourite dish .. last time I made it I added cabbage … delicious, but very potent, gas wise .. lol thanks for the link

  • shlnurtition

    I have been reading many of your posts on various topics and want to thank you for your contribution and service. I am a lay (uncredentialed) nutrition advocate, so this is not based on science, but is mainly experiential. Is it possible that Alzheimmers is diabetes of the brain and that hemrrhoids and anal fissures are anal diabetes? I recently noticed the biggest culprit in sabotaging healing the latter, but in healing almost anything, is sugar (and oil, of course). I used to label most illness as candida of the…………..(name the organ), but it may be less fungal and more sugar based. What’s your take on this? Being a natual healer (72 years & no medication; run/walker of 8-10 miles daily), i am always looking to understand reasonable theory so that if it strikes me as true, i can use it skillfully. Thank you for your time and consideration. Sincerely, Sandra

    • Thea

      Sandra: “72 years & no medication; run/walker of 8-10 miles daily” is simply amazing. That’s so cool.

      I am a lay person myself, but thought I might be helpful: Dr. Barnard has two books which may help answer your questions. He explains the nature of diabetes in his book: Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes. He also goes into Alzheimers in his newest book: Power Foods For the Brain. (The first book, diabetes, would be the most relevant of the two for your question.) While I don’t speak for Dr. Greger, based on Dr. Greger’s videos and recommendations, I guess that Dr. Greger would support the information in both of those books.

      After reading those books and doing some additional research, my personal opinion is that it does not make sense to classify Alzheimmers as “diabetes of the brain”. If you ever read those books, I would be curious if you have a change of thoughts.

      I hope when I’m 72 that I move as much as you do. That’s quite inspirational. Good luck.

  • John

    My bowel movements have grown in size and regularity. One huge one every morning. Some nearing a pound. I was beginning to become concerned about the size, but now I understand why. I am 65, as I learn more about nutrition, I eat more plant based. I have been doing this now for the past 15 months. I am now almost 100% plant based diet. Very interesting.

  • Calvin Leman

    I eat whole-food plant-based food that leaves me about 6 times a day.

  • Donna

    How do you feel about one taking trace minerals

  • mdouble

    OK I have to admit that I had kind of a grade school giggle moment watching this video. I know it’s a very serious subject, and I mean to diminish the importance of the topic with stupid jokes, but then you also know the say, humour is the best medicine, so I guess I had my daily dose.

    I’ve always been something of a smart ass (pun intended). I just couldn’t get my mind out of the toilet, which instisted on running through a series of really crappy jokes.

    After going through the list I finally concluded that, when one had ambitions to be a really big sh*t, maybe, in light of good colon health, that might be a really positive thing.

    • Thea

      Your too funny. OK, after reading your post, now I’ve had *my* grade school moment.

      Thanks? ;-)

  • Zavod

    I love beets, everybody loves beets. I’m off to eat a big bowl of beets. Wish me luck

  • Susan

    I believe there is such thing as impaired digestion or slow digestion. Ancient Indian medicine recommends pranayama or breathing techniques to increase digestive fires. It is also my understanding that nothing bad survives in oxygen…. I also believe that slow digestion gives rise to allergies… beliefs in response to slow transit time……

  • etmax

    above it says larger stool size is associated with lower risk of amongst other things constipation, I think there needs to be a lot of research done on this in relation to what co factors reduce that risk, because my wife has sever constipation even though we both eat the same things and visits the stool room only once every 3 or so days and has as a result large stools. Transit time has to be in the days. I have daily usually 2-3 time daily movements and have a transit time of about 10-14 hours and have DV, so there’s a lot of compounding factors that I think are missing.

    • imdhreeves

      If you are whole food plant based you should have at least one bowel m movement everyday. If not I would look at the diet. Any dairy products could cause immobility in the bowel. Children often have a horrible problem with this. Make sure your wife is getting some exercise that makes her breath heavily and avoid prescription medications that cause constipation like pain killers. Don’t live thirsty.

  • Soleika Roth

    Dear Michael, Please can you tell me a few things about poop. I think I have seen it all when it comes to poop and pee due to being a toilet cleaner in busy toilet facility for three years.
    No 1! Big poops cause big problems re blocked loo’s so I am suprised they are good, is there a ‘too big’ size? Often when a poop is big the food bits can be still seen or at least give a colour/texture so I assumed they were not healthy.
    No 2! what’s the poop scoop on really splatty poos? These are worse on weekends(due to booze or diet?) by my unsceintific reasearch but they occur constantly among the general public (I would estimate 1 in 5 women and 1 in 3 or 4men) and are the bain of my life, so awful to clean up as get on underneath of loo seat etc.
    No 3! Is it true that floaters are caused from dairy products? I read that somewhere.
    No 4! ahh the perfect poo on the bristol chart, I would like to get there but I am more of a 1-3 girl, if I did a plant diet, how long would it take to get to No four, and how long for my few day old poo’s to evacute? yours sincerely Miss S, a wannabe poopologist.

  • GNUisance

    I drink lots of water and legumes, grains and tubers and go once a day, but it sounds like I’m dropping tic-tacs all the time. My mom eats McDonald’s all the time and goes every hour. It’s not fair.

    What’s going on? Will exercise fix this?