How Many Bowel Movements Should You Have Every Day?

How Many Bowel Movements Should You Have Every Day?
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Most people have between 3 bowel movements a day and 3 a week, but normal doesn’t necessarily mean optimal.

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Ancient Egypt was one of the great civilizations, lasting for 3,000 years, its knowledge of medicine vastly underestimated. They had medical subspecialties. The pharaohs, for example, had access to physicians dedicated to be guardians of the royal bowel movement, a title alternately translated from the hieroglyphics to mean Shepherd of the Anus. How’s that for a resumé builder?

Today, the primacy of its importance continues, with some calling for bowel habits to be considered a vital sign of how the body is functioning, along with blood pressure, and heart and breathing rates. Although we may not particularly like hearing the details of someone else’s bowel movement, it is a function that nurses and doctors need to assess.

Surprisingly, the colon remained relatively unexplored territory, one of the body’s final frontiers. For example, current concepts of what “normal” stools are like primarily emanate from the detailed records of 12 consecutive bowel movements in 27 healthy subjects from the United Kingdom, who boldly went where no one had gone before. Those must have been really detailed records.

The reason we need to define normal, when it comes to bowel movement frequency, for example, is how else can we define concepts like constipation or diarrhea if we don’t know what normal is. Standard physiology textbooks may not be helpful in this regard, implying that anything from one bowel movement every few weeks or months to 24 a day can be regarded as normal. Once every few months?

Of all human bodily functions defecation is perhaps the least understood and least studied. Can’t you just ask people? Turns out people tend to exaggerate. There’s a discrepancy between what people report and what researchers find when they actually have them recorded. It wasn’t until 2010 when we got the first serious look, defining normal stool frequency as between three per week and three per day, based on the fact that that’s where 98% of people tended to fall. But normal doesn’t necessarily mean optimal.

Having a “normal” salt intake can lead to a “normal” blood pressure, which can help us die from all the “normal” causes, like heart attacks and strokes. Having a “normal” cholesterol level in a society where it’s “normal” to drop dead of heart disease—our #1 killer, is not necessarily a good thing. And indeed, significant proportions of people with “normal” bowel function reported urgency, straining, and incomplete defecation, leading the researchers to conclude that that kind of thing must just be normal.  Normal, maybe, if you’re eating a fiber-deficient diet. But not normal for our species. Defecation should not be a painful exercise. This is readily demonstrable. For example, the majority of rural Africans eating their traditional fiber-rich, plant-based diets can usually pass, without straining, a stool specimen on demand. See, the rectum may need to accumulate four or five ounces of fecal matter before the defecation reflex is fully initiated, and so if you don’t even build up that much over the day, you’d have to strain to prime the rectal pump.

Hippocrates thought bowel movements should ideally be two or three times a day, which is what you see in populations on traditional plant-based diets, on the kind of fiber intakes you see in our fellow great apes, and what may be more representative of the type of diets we evolved eating. It seems somewhat optimistic, though, to expect the average American to adopt a rural African diet. We can, however, eat more plant-based and bulk up enough to take the Hippocratic oath to go two to three times a day.

No need to obsess about it. In fact, there’s actually a “bowel obsession syndrome,” characterized in part by ideational rambling over bowel habits, but three times a day makes sense. We have what’s called a gastrocolic reflex, which consists of a prompt activation of muscular waves in our colon within 1 to 3 minutes of the ingestion of the first mouthfuls of food. Even just talking about food can cause your brain to increase colon activity. This suggests the body figured that one meal should be just about enough to fill you up down there. So, maybe we should eat enough unprocessed plant foods to get up to three a day, a movement for every meal.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Katie Schloer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to S J Pinkney and Steve Rhode via Flickr.

Ancient Egypt was one of the great civilizations, lasting for 3,000 years, its knowledge of medicine vastly underestimated. They had medical subspecialties. The pharaohs, for example, had access to physicians dedicated to be guardians of the royal bowel movement, a title alternately translated from the hieroglyphics to mean Shepherd of the Anus. How’s that for a resumé builder?

Today, the primacy of its importance continues, with some calling for bowel habits to be considered a vital sign of how the body is functioning, along with blood pressure, and heart and breathing rates. Although we may not particularly like hearing the details of someone else’s bowel movement, it is a function that nurses and doctors need to assess.

Surprisingly, the colon remained relatively unexplored territory, one of the body’s final frontiers. For example, current concepts of what “normal” stools are like primarily emanate from the detailed records of 12 consecutive bowel movements in 27 healthy subjects from the United Kingdom, who boldly went where no one had gone before. Those must have been really detailed records.

The reason we need to define normal, when it comes to bowel movement frequency, for example, is how else can we define concepts like constipation or diarrhea if we don’t know what normal is. Standard physiology textbooks may not be helpful in this regard, implying that anything from one bowel movement every few weeks or months to 24 a day can be regarded as normal. Once every few months?

Of all human bodily functions defecation is perhaps the least understood and least studied. Can’t you just ask people? Turns out people tend to exaggerate. There’s a discrepancy between what people report and what researchers find when they actually have them recorded. It wasn’t until 2010 when we got the first serious look, defining normal stool frequency as between three per week and three per day, based on the fact that that’s where 98% of people tended to fall. But normal doesn’t necessarily mean optimal.

Having a “normal” salt intake can lead to a “normal” blood pressure, which can help us die from all the “normal” causes, like heart attacks and strokes. Having a “normal” cholesterol level in a society where it’s “normal” to drop dead of heart disease—our #1 killer, is not necessarily a good thing. And indeed, significant proportions of people with “normal” bowel function reported urgency, straining, and incomplete defecation, leading the researchers to conclude that that kind of thing must just be normal.  Normal, maybe, if you’re eating a fiber-deficient diet. But not normal for our species. Defecation should not be a painful exercise. This is readily demonstrable. For example, the majority of rural Africans eating their traditional fiber-rich, plant-based diets can usually pass, without straining, a stool specimen on demand. See, the rectum may need to accumulate four or five ounces of fecal matter before the defecation reflex is fully initiated, and so if you don’t even build up that much over the day, you’d have to strain to prime the rectal pump.

Hippocrates thought bowel movements should ideally be two or three times a day, which is what you see in populations on traditional plant-based diets, on the kind of fiber intakes you see in our fellow great apes, and what may be more representative of the type of diets we evolved eating. It seems somewhat optimistic, though, to expect the average American to adopt a rural African diet. We can, however, eat more plant-based and bulk up enough to take the Hippocratic oath to go two to three times a day.

No need to obsess about it. In fact, there’s actually a “bowel obsession syndrome,” characterized in part by ideational rambling over bowel habits, but three times a day makes sense. We have what’s called a gastrocolic reflex, which consists of a prompt activation of muscular waves in our colon within 1 to 3 minutes of the ingestion of the first mouthfuls of food. Even just talking about food can cause your brain to increase colon activity. This suggests the body figured that one meal should be just about enough to fill you up down there. So, maybe we should eat enough unprocessed plant foods to get up to three a day, a movement for every meal.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Katie Schloer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to S J Pinkney and Steve Rhode via Flickr.

Doctor's Note

I know people are suckers for poop videos—I’m so excited to finally be getting these up! There was actually a recent one though–Diet and Hiatal Hernia–that talks about the consequences of straining on stool. Hernias are better than Bedpan Death Syndrome, though—that’s what I talk about in in my next video: Should You Sit, Squat, or Lean During a Bowel Movement?

I do have some older videos on bowel health:

For more on this concept of having “normal” health parameters in a society where it’s normal to drop dead of heart attacks and other such preventable fates, see my video When Low Risk Means High Risk.

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

120 responses to “How Many Bowel Movements Should You Have Every Day?

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    1. In the Marshall Islands when diabetic participants joined our lifestyle intervention program, that induced a nutrition component, were embarrassed and confused when they started to have daily BMs. Some participants only went once weekly, so yes, this is very normal (or abnormal I suppose) for some populations (even on this planet) ;-) Cannot underestimate nutrition education for more fiber in the diet!

      1. OFF-TOPIC QUESTION: Joseph, on the left side of the homepage, I see Dr. Greger’s speaking schedule. From what I see, he gives a lot of speeches. Are the videos of his past speeches available anywhere on this site for the visitors to watch? Thanks Joseph.

        1. Yes they are! You’ll see his most prominent videos and links at the bottom of each NutritionFacts page. Scroll to the bottom of the page and on the right hand side there are 3 videos “Food for Disabling Diseases” “Foods for Common Diseases” and “Foods for Killer Diseases” – Talk about 3 whole hours of all-you-can-handle FUN! ;-) Let me know if you cannot find them I’ll link separately. Thanks, George.

          Nutrition Videos
          Browse Topics
          Latest Videos
          Foods for Disabling Diseases
          Foods for Common Diseases
          Foods for Killer Diseases

      2. Hi Joseph. There was an article recently in The Guardian about the Runit Dome and it got me thinking about the Marshall Islands again and a talk by Brenda Davis I heard a while back. Long story short, far be it to toot your own horn so I’ll do it for you. Folks can have a look at these pictures and wonder along with me what a wonderful and unique experience it was living and working in the MI on such a humanitarian mission.
        http://www.brendadavisrd.com/gallery.php?section=marshall_islands

  1. Interesting thing about seeing these videos on youtube is the “like-themed” videos suggested by the AI when this one ends. Have a happy day.

    1. Those “like themed” suggestions are the bane of my Youtube existence. They have too much “skew” built in to them. The ADHD like me, do not need assistance going off in the wrong direction. When i find a good source, I go to their section and look through everything they have uploaded. Found some great things that way. Rarely through the AI suggestions, way too much “popularity” and “trending” action there for me. Cheers

      1. Hmmm … the collection of recommendations I received for this video could have been politely characterized as “quack scat” and did not tempt me too much. ;)

      2. For Wade Patton: It seems you can go to your Youtube account, and then to ‘search history’ and then ‘clear history’ and that apparently wipes Youtube’s memory clean of what you’ve been watching. Without a memory of what you typically watch, it can’t give you recommendations based on what you’re watching. There’s also something called ‘View Pure’ which allows you to see Youtube videos without ‘clutter’. You go to the ‘View Pure’ page and either put in the URL for a Youtube video you want to see, or search (using ‘Dr Greger’, for example). You’ll get search results and when you click, the video opens up in a large format with no distracting advertisements and no video queue on the side.

        This is a good site for the easily distracted, who want to watch just one video and then go have a life, as well as for parents who want their children to be able to watch one video without any recommendations or images from Youtube that might lure them into dangerous viewing.

  2. I am a vegan, very occasional cheese, and I only ‘go’ once every two days. : ( But, that is better than pre-vegan days when I went once per week. Three times per day would be a dream come true that I know ain’t never gonna happen.

    1. I know people someone who eat tons of fiber, but only goes once per day or every other day when traveling (or sometimes just away from home). I am not sure and need to see some research but perhaps there is a “stress” (psychological) component to successfully achieving a healthy bowel movement? Not saying this is your case, but your comment reminded me of my friend. I would agree once every other day is much better than once a week! I commend you!

      Best wishes,
      Joseph

      1. Actually, stress is likely a bigger cause of constipation then is lack of fiber. IBS, to my knowledge, with constipation is related to the mind body gut axis. You can feed all the fiber you want, but if there is something screwy with the mind body gut axis, things are going to get clogged up until stress is relieved. Countless GI doctors know this, and is the reason they often prescribe psych meds to relieve constipation. Sure, lots of fiber helps someone who does not have these mind body gut issues, but for those that do, it is just a part (and sometimes small part) of the solution.

      2. I use to go once a day and now that I am in menopause (I do take topical estrogen) I become constipated no matter what I eat if I do not have enough estrogen for bowel peristolis. I was a total vegan falling Dr. fuhrman’s diet for two years and I was still constipated. I truly believe it is a case of hormones or lack thereof, not how much fiber I get since I was on a WFPB diet. I am about 80 % WFPB diet now and I do find when I eat fattier foods or have alcohol I have an. Easier time going to the bathroom! Very frustrating!

        1. You may want to consider the book “Why Stomach Acid Is Good For You” by Dr. Jonathan Wright. Theme is a lot of health stems from the gut.

      3. Totally agree. My sister eats well but is often stressed out running her business. In her words, she has ‘no time to poop’.

      4. I also have anecdotal evidence to back the stress claim up. When I spend all day at home, I have a bowel movement about 30 minutes after each meal. When I go to work, though, even if I eat right before, I do not. Same story for shopping, seeing a movie, etc. All I can figure is that my body “knows” I’m away from home and decides it is not the best place.

    2. I find dehydration has a big part to play also – eating a lot of fiber also requires a lot of fluids – make sure you are drinking plenty of water!!
      Also, why not just drop the cheese entirely? I think any ex-smoker would agree that its harder to quit smoking if you, well, keep smoking…And Dr. G gives us PLENTY of good reasons to eliminate such a dangerous food, and bowel health is one.
      Go vegan, its better for the animals and its better for you!

      1. I am a vegan, except when my wife slips some cheese in her fixin’s. I don’t think that under those rare times is done harm. Additionally, I am an animal rights activists I do my share to stop cruelty to animals, and cannot wait for the day when there is no slaughter of the innocent.

        1. Yeah! When we and the animals can live in peace, together roaming, grazing, enjoying. I had goats once, on enough acreage, so that I could pull down a low tree branch, and they would eagerly defoliate it. I enjoyed the zest in their eyes, and then I would let the branch spring back up out of their reach, and on to the next branch further along. Time seemed to stand still. I long for the day, same as you.

    3. Use Dr. Richard Schulze’s “Intestinal Formula #1”. Nothing that I have ever tried worked like this. BTW, I’m a vegan as well.Check out “Eliminate” on the main page. Also, I don’t make a dime whether you buy products from him or not. Good luck!

      https://www.herbdoc.com/

  3. Please explore role of stress and anxiety issues and bowel movement, reflex. Not in regards to the
    stress of going to the bathroom, just the stresses of everyday life, and certain peoples’ depression
    and anxiety issues.
    Quite often this alone is the cause of constipation, and much less so the diet.

    Serotonin and dopamine synergy in the gut. There is a reason some people benefit from low-dose
    anti-depressents in regards to constipation. But no thanks, I don’t want the side-effects of these drugs.

    1. Great point I literally just wrote about this, but I thought I may be looney because I have yet to see the research. Obviously certain medications can cause constipation but I too wonder about the research on anxiety and stress and contraption. 10 gold stars for anyone who can jump in here and find some research on this topic! Thanks for your post.

      1. well, as many of us know,’medications’ are magnesiun depletors,& mg is, among 800 other things, a muscle relaxant & stress buster, so easy pooping ain’t gonna happen…

        1. Hi Mathew,
          I believe that Dr. Greger says that if you eat a whole food plant based diet you will grow the correct probiotics naturally. Whole plant foods promote the growth of good microbes.
          They are in the plants naturally. You don’t need to take any pills if your diet is plant based. Except for B12 of course.
          Hope this helps!

          1. Thank you. I should take his advice and stop using unnatural sweetener. Maybe that is what is killing my intestinal microflora. Dr. Greger still writes that deficiencies abound, for instance, with Potassium. He talks about how many nutrients are first made at the very end of the colon and how their is limited means to adsorb some important nutrients.

            1. Thank you for your response. I’m sorry that you’re having problems with your microflora. I know I like to add a little sweetness to my strawberry coca concoctions and I use artificial sweeteners as well. And of course Dr. Greger has a recommendation for artificial sweeteners as well: http://nutritionfacts.org/video/a-harmless-artificial-sweetener/ He even says that Erythritol can have antioxident benefits in this video: http://nutritionfacts.org/video/erythritol-may-be-a-sweet-antioxidant/

              Erythritol has been hard for me to find in my area so I am going to try to puchase it on ebay. Xylitol is the sweetener I have right now, but if I put too much into my treats it loosens up my bowels a bit too much..

              1. Dr. Greger has a recipe for vegan dark chocolate ice cream:

                Blended
                2 and a half tablespoons of cocoa powder.
                frozen cherries or strawberries,
                a little nondairy milk,
                vanilla extract
                and some erythritol or some dates and you have instant, decadent chocolate ice cream

                I would like to try this, is this similar to what you are making?

                It has a lot of heart benefits, I am glad you are eating cocoa. Are you staying away from dark chocolate because of the LDL raising saturated fat? Dark Chocolate was still shown to reduce all cause mortality by half in moderate consumption, (like a hundred grams!), in many studies, making it a true super food. Please let me know how Erythritol works for you.

                  1. Congratulations on your health conscious decision. Where do you get your cocoa? Do you believe it has a large number of health benefits?

                    1. It’s in the baking aisle, either in a dark brown Hershey can or a yellow Nestle one. It’s antioxidant, ’bout all I know. And fat free.

              2. I’m enjoying a stevia-erythritol product that I get from WalMart, in the sugar section, brand name Skinny Girl. I know, dumb name. But it really nails the sweetening I want. I’s a liquid in tiny squeeze bottle. I’m writing to that company now to ask for bigger bottles, because I buy them six at a time.

                1. You might want to look into what Susan Pierce Thompson, Ph.D. has to say about sugar addiction. (Yes, even fake sugars.) You can probably find it by searching under her name, or ‘Bright Line Eating.’ If you’re using a lot of sweeteners, you could have a food addiction.

    2. Well here’s an anecdotal data point (I’m a vegan that eats a lot of fiber). When I’m working at home in pretty relaxed situations I typically go 5 or 6 time/day. But if I’m out dealing with the normal stresses of negotiating and interacting with the world I usually only go a couple of times a day and don’t feel any reflex pressure to go when I’m out and about, Though I guess in my case the stress I experience when I’m out wouldn’t be considered abnormal or to be causing any problems re. bowel or colon issues…

      1. It isn’t as simple as adding more fiber and staying hydrated. That gut brain has a mind of its own and I’d sure like to straighten it out. Some of the time it works fine and other times not so well… But since going WFPB it at least is always soft. One thing that doesn’t help is old injuries that messed up the nerves.

        1. Everyone is different. I eat a ton of fiber, exercise regularly, drink at least 64 oz a day. As does my husband. we both GO once a day. Never miss a day.

        2. Say you are out doing the hunter-gatherer thing…since you are on the lookout for predators…human and otherwise…you’d need to relax to take a dump. I think some hemorrhoid cases are due to continual stress.

  4. Think you eat enough fiber? Think again! Do you eat 10 cups of plain cooked oatmeal a day ? – that is 40g of fiber – which is the RDA for men 50 and over. This is the simplest, most important and least known diet advice – that is – take enough fiber (40g per day) to have 2-3 bowel movements per day. It is difficult almost impossible to have a bad diet if you consume enough fiber in your food.

    1. I start every day with oatmeal or grits topped with berries and flaxseed. Then the beans and potatoes and greens…so easy and tasty. 50-100g is likely my fiber total each day. Easy and tasty and healthy.

      1. Oat bran is even better than oat meal. Comparing fiber/protein/calories: 15.4 vs. 10.1, 17.3 vs. 13.15, 246 vs. 370 for 100 g. of bran vs. meal. Oat bran is even cheaper. I buy it in bulk at WinCo.

    2. 2⅓ to 2½ cups of cooked beans also have ~40 g fiber, for a third as many calories as the oats. One 14 oz can of beans (or home cooked equivalent) has about 25 g fiber, so one can be well on one’s way to that target for under 400 calories.

  5. A classic. Uncharted territory illuminated by Dr. Greger’s characteristically dry, and sometimes ironic, humor.

  6. I love your work, and listen to every thing you say. I try to live as close to your recommendations as possible, but I have one idiom that I do not believe. You mentioned evolving over millions of years. The true science stands against that as far as I can tell. This may not be your field, so I’d like you to at least look into Ian Juby on Google. He has lodes of info, just like you, except that it is on a different issue.

    1. Magnesium is well known for loosening stool. A lot of calcium supplements have magnesium added. Not sure of he laxative effect of calcium alone. Or are you suggesting you’d have more BMs if you didn’t take the calcium supplement?

  7. I had a professor of gastroenterology who said, let patients defecate on a white piece of paper from 1 meter above, and I can tell their GI ailments in 95% of cases, without colonoskopy (which can be dangerous and painfull), bloodtests, X-rays and so on….. but no fancy procedures or tests so that would never be an option…

  8. A really funny and informative small book written by a GI doc is “What’s Your Poo Telling You?” (by Josh Richman and Anish Sheth, MD). I keep a copy (along with the companion book “What’s My Pee Telling Me?” on the top of my toilet lid. When I hear people chuckling in the guest bathroom, I know they’re reading about poo or pee . . .

  9. Since we’re sharing our bowel habits here, I am so glad to have effortless 2-3 poos per day. I recently had to take a few tylenol with codeine tablets to deal with some pain and the resulting constipation was so terrible I decided to experience the pain rather than take more pills. It made me feel so sorry for folks who have regular constipation, especially if they’re not aware of natural ways (e.g. fiber & fluids) to treat it.

    On a humorous note, most of the time when I head to my bathroom to poo, one of my cats follows me in and takes his poo in the litter box, too! It continues to make me laugh.

  10. I would Google ‘bowel obsession syndrome’, but I’m afraid to see what the targeted ads and Youtube recommendations would look like.

  11. How much is too much? is any study on that? i mean not diharrea, but soft consistence.. (sorry ahha).
    my grand mother after going to a hfpd is worry about that, she says that goes 4 5 times a day.. i dont know if it is an exsageration but it will be that be too much?

  12. i have saw this bristol stool chart http://www.healthhype.com/loose-stool-and-hard-stool-different-types-of-feces.html
    so apart from how many times, the way we do it may says many things. my grand grand mother (in paraguay rural area, have look for the poop of all her children and dependig on the consistency giving them the right kind of food. i wonder if this bristool stool charl is correct, i supouse it is much more info about it.. i have notice for exsample that people that eat to much oil use to go many times to the toilet.. but it is more steaky and close to diarrea.. this moovemnts dosent seems soo healthy.
    i know my be disqusting but it wiill be good to put some light on poop .

  13. Okay, you’ve addressed pooing… what about peeing? Can it be normal to pee up to, say, 20 times a day? I think I probably urinate 15 times a day or so. I drink a lot of water, eat a lot of fruit (lots of watermelon lately), and have a small bladder. Always wonder whether or not to trust general guidelines for people about these kinds of things. Most people are chronically dehydrated. Also, is it better to not have to get up during the night to urinate, or does that mean you’re not adequately hydrated (as I’ve heard some claim). I’ve always preferred avoiding too much water before settling down to sleep so that I don’t have to get up, but I don’t mind doing so if it’s better for my health. Thanks! :)

  14. i personally think how much and many times a weak you need to go to your bathroom really depends on your diet, i would rather think that people should much more look at if your fecies are in a normal state cause watery poo is never right and extremey dry and thick isnt right as well, people should rather think of that instead of how many times you should go to a bathroom

  15. UNFORTUNATELY, THIS VIDEO discourages people from eating diets high in fiber… since who wants to — or has the time or the availability while working to — have bowel movements of 3 times a day? You know, as in… IS TOM IN THE BATHROOM AGAIN?! What the hell does he do in the bathroom all day?!

    1. 3 times a day wouldn’t take up much of a person’s time, and remember that it becomes as quick and effortless as urinating. Gone are the days of needing reading material in the bathroom. ;)

      1. Exactly. Leave the SAD diet behind and also the SAD poop (and the complications directly related: diverticulitis, hiatal hernia…). It’s such a rewarding experience on so many levels. The high-fiber BM also doesn’t have the intense urgency that I was accustomed to before (as 1x frequency somewhat SAD eater). It’s a very _manageable urgency_, if there is such a thing.

  16. I have read many of the comments, but so far I haven’t seen anyone discuss this. I eat probably 95% PBWF, a bit less when dining out, though not frequently. I often have three or four bowel movements in the morning, sometimes only a few minutes apart. My thought is that each fiber-filled poop is too long to fit into the rectum, so the second and even third movements are really just a continuation of the first. Does anybody concur or have this experience? This is from someone who was formerly easily constipated. I take a tablespoon of chia seeds soaked in water morning and night along with supplemental magnesium, along with lots of veggies and fruits.

    1. Sometimes I have two, “back to back” so to speak. Sometimes they are spaced more evenly. My flaxseed intake varies as I simply don’t eat the same thing every day. That is my sole fiber supplement and is mainly for the lignans and other flaxseed wonders. Always have two or three when nervous/anxious about an event, like a bike race–and that was before WFPB, will update if that changes.

  17. I’d like to hear what people here have to say about “transit time”. Today, the time from mouth to bum was only 6 hours for me. I had a bit more green tea during the day than I’d like, so that probably affected the time some, but I do seem to have fairly quick digestion. I wonder if this is a sign of bad nutrition absorption. Everywhere on the web it seems like 24-72 hours is “normal”, but I think I average about 10-12 hours.

    1. How do you know what you’re eliminating today is from today? I typically have a minimum of 3 BMs a day, often linked to eating (but also in the morning before eating anything), sometimes 4 or even five. But when I’ve eaten something ‘recognizable’ I can see that I’m eliminating something from yesterday, not what I ate a few hours ago. (For example, if the food was a lot of tomato sauce – red – or had corn fiber in it, etc.).

  18. I have very regular bowel moments. Same time everyday but my problem is flatulence. I am a vegan and eat no processed foods. Since becoming a vegan 18 months ago I have had nothing but incredibly smelly flatulence. What is going on? I love my veggies but the more I eat the worse I smell. It is a very distressing situation for me, particularly at work. Doctors can’t find anything and I have tried to eliminate what might be the culprits but nothing is working. How can I eat my veggies without the foul burning gaseous odors that they produce?

    1. I had that problem until I discovered that it was hot pepper I was putting in food, especially beans. I cut out the hot spices and the problem went away seemingly over night. Now after some years of being WFPB, I find that hot spices don’t bother me anymore – and beans cause barely a blip.

      Do you heavily spice your food?

  19. So you think you eat enough vegetables? Check out Dr. Terry Wahl’s TEDtalk on YT. Three Platefuls, she recommends – to hell with the half-cup portion we are told to use by the Fed-to-us Government! She’s paleo, I won’t eat animals, but boy am I eating vegetables now!

  20. I have been following Dr. Greger’s eating recommendations for two months. My poops have become more on the diarrhea side, very liquidy. What could be causing this? What changes might I make in my diet to firm things up. (The opposite question of most folks!). Thanks!

    1. There’s a lot of plant foods and herbs that help with that, I can’t remember specific ones at the moment but there are many. Another thing could be a detox happening, it can take months for your body to adjust to a new diet especially when it has a lot to “clean out” through detoxification, so what you’re experiencing is probably your body doing what it needs to do as now you’re giving it the things it needs to be able to do them.

  21. 8265 198728Now im encountering a fresh short difficulties Once i cant appear like allowed to sign up for the certain give food to, Now im utilizing search engines like google audience. 598227

  22. I have a very sensitive digestive system. After I take a bite of something in the morning, I have several bowel movements before I can leave home. I often get an upset stomach, which sometimes goes on for more than a day. I’ve decided to try a plant-based diet, so I’ve gone off eggs, meat and fish (I stopped milk products a while back). I have a feeling that the larger amount of veggies I’m eating are causing me even more bowel movements, maybe even diarrhea. Any suggestions?

  23. I am 3 months on a WFPB diet, and after a lifetime of constipation and struggle, I am finally going daily, some days once, and others 3-4 times. I am wondering how long the detox process really lasts (or is this my new normal?!?) I also am suffering from loads of gas, like all day every day, not necessarily foul, but voluminous! Will this change? I do eat beans every day, as I heard that our microbiome needs to adjust to digesting more fiber and resistant starch in beans. Thank you.

  24. Hello Newly Planted,
    Congratulations on your new nutrition habits! I am a family doctor with a private practice in lifestyle medicine, and also a volunteer moderator for this website. If you are having soft BMs from once to 3-4 times per day, that is fairly normal when you are eating a high-fiber diet. Having excess gas for a week or two after switching to entirely plant-based eating is also fairly normal. However, after 3 months, normally your bowel microbiome should have adjusted so that you no longer have excess gas. My guess is that you are sensitive to some specific type of bean or fruit or vegetable, or maybe to gluten??

    One anecdote from my personal experience: I am very sensitive to black cherry juice (and presumably to black cherries): I will get multiple BMs per day, i.e. up to 5 or 6 times. When I avoid black cherries, my BM pattern goes back to “normal” for me, which is soft stools (I also used to have some constipation), up to 3 times per day.

    I suggest that you try eliminating one thing at a time from your diet. Start with what you think is the most likely culprit — e.g. lentils. If you never previously had a problem with gluten, that seems unlikely to be the cause, but still is possible.

    One important caution. You didn’t say how old you are, but if you are over 50, you should be aware that one cause of prolonged diarrhea is bowel cancer. I highly doubt this is the cause of your problem, since it coincided exactly with your change in diet. However, if the gas and/or loose stools persists and does not respond to elimination of various foods, you should consider consulting a gastroenterologist, who can take a look inside your colon.

    I hope this helps.

  25. I have read and read so many topics but haven’t found one that addresses my particular problem so I am posting here. When I had my colonoscopy in April the Dr said he couldn’t get all the way through my colon because I have “significant looping and twisting with a redundant colon”
    So, the next month I had a barium enema with x-ray and the radiologist was able to see barium all the way to my appendix which I guess was good since he was excited about that!! During the colonoscopy the Dr saw nothing of concern and neither did the radiologist. I was either constipated all of the time or with Miralax would have diarrhea with “sludgy” stools. I went WHPBD on May 20 and while overall I feel so much better (having lost 17 pounds) I was having stools 2 or 3 times a day at the beginning but stools were still very loose and still are after 6 weeks! Plus now I am not going much again and had to take Miralax yesterday. Any suggestions as to what I need to change to have solid stools regularly? I know PBD can reverse many things but I’m wondering about a redundant colon?
    I have tried to stay away from bread products as I still have weight to lose. I eat steel cut oatmeal every morning with Wheat Germ, walnuts, blueberries and 1/2 a banana. Quite a bowl full. For lunch I eat a corn taco with a filling of lentils, red beans and pureed carrots along with lettuce and salsa. For dinner I eat a vegan soup or sweet potato with steamed veggies. Love the weight loss and overall feeling healthy but sure would like to get my colon straightened out if possible. Thanks in advance for any help

  26. This is more a question of consistency rather than frequency. I have been eating plant based for about a month now, using the Daily Dozen list and have had no problem making the transition except for the annoying sticky poops, that come several times per day and don’t seem to ever completely empty. Instead of annoying I should say life-changing. I will not be able to sustain this. I will go broke buying toilet paper and wet wipes. In addition my bum is sore! I think it’s the lentils and beans. Perhaps I just don’t digest them. Maybe it’s the removal of the meat products? I had this problem a few years ago when I tried going vegan and gave up. I don’t want to give up this time. This science is too clear. Any advice out there? Can I be a healthy vegan without eating beans?

    1. Kasey Chiz…..
      No one bothered to reply to my message so I’m glad you wrote your own.
      I do was bothered by poo that never felt like I was empty and my anus burned and was red all of the time.
      I did find that more greens helped more than the beans did. I try to eat more of both and while my poo
      still isn’t really formed I don’t have the soreness. I might add that was a problem when I was still eating
      meat. I’ve been WFPB now for 3 months so I don’t know how long if ever my poo will be what it should be.
      As long as I am going I won’t complain and toliet paper use is now down :)

  27. This is a sticky subject (sorry, had to say it.) I think that you’re early in the cycle of recolonizing your gut with a new, beneficial microbiome and you’re not fully digesting the beans, which is pretty much the point of a high fiber diet like this. Ever eat fresh corn and then peek in the toilet? ‘Nuf said, but rest assured Its a good thing.

    Your complaints do need to be addressed though so we can get you comfortable. I suggest incorporating other foods into your diet instead of cutting out the beans which, as you know, are very healthful. Have you tried incorporating other high fiber foods along with your beans? We cook a lot of green leafy veggeis, such as cabbage into our beans which seems to help. How about corn? Do you eat a lot of fresh fruit? These can help too. You might also try “going raw” for awhile, including a lot of raw veggies like corn, zucchini, cabbage, etc, to see if this fixes the issue. In the mean time, to save time, money, wipes and toilet paper overuse charges…and calm that poor sore bum of yours….I suggest purchasing a hand shower handle which will allow you to wash your bum gently instead of beating it to death with all those 90 grit paper goods. The soreness will go away with this method and transform you into a smiling, happy vegan like the rest of us :))))

    1. Thanks for the advice. Do the greens or corn somehow help the digestion of the beans or just push them through so they don’t make such a ruckus in the final phase of the trail to my bum? Does the fruit or going raw do the same?

      1. Hi Kasey- Hope you’ve made progress since this post! With beans, the keys to lowering gas are: assure the beans are very well cooked, eat smaller amounts at first, drink plenty of water, and (if you cook your own beans) add kombu, a sea plant, when cooking. Corn may be left largely undigested after eating. Other sources of fiber won’t necessarily help you digest beans. The other thing about beans is that they are the very highest in fiber. A half cup is plenty. If you realize your’e eating 2 whole cups of beans, you’ll have more gas from the very high fiber content. Best luck!

        1. I’ve been eating lentils and mung beans after letting them sprout, which has improved things quite a bit. Thank-you for your concern.

  28. I am 75 years old. I eat 2-3 pounds of raw fruits and veges every day. As far as my BMs. I have 3-5 per day, and I feel great. The last time I was constipated was about 30+ years ago. I am sure if the average person ate like this, constipation and diverticulitis would be virtually unknown, as well as Cancer of the colon.

      1. Dr. Ben,
        Do you know much about redundant colons? After 13 weeks I do have a BM almost every day but
        they are still “sludgy”
        I’m thankful to be going but sure wish I could have normal poos.

        Thanks

        1. I don’t know much about redundant colons, but all the anecdotal info that I’ve seen suggests that sludgy BM’s can often be corrected with an increase intake of insoluble fiber such as bran. I think a lot of cabbage might help too. I think this might fall under the category of “malformed stool” if you’d like to search further on the internet for solutions. Your complaints are not rare, so if you come up with any solutions, we’d all like to hear about it.

          Dr. Ben

  29. I’ve been on a plant-based diet for a few months now. My problem is that I have multiple BMs each morning and they’re very liquidy, like diarrhea. My gastro is not bothered by it, but it’s making it hard for me to start the day – I often have to go to the toilet several times till I’m all emptied, and it can take more than an hour till I get out of the house. Any ideas?

  30. That’s an interesting question. I don’t think we have any information like that at NF. As a nurse, the only clinical condition I know of that that is relevant in is cystic fibrosis where they do not absorb fat from the digestive tract. Their stools are full of fat and that makes them float. But there stools also have visible fat streaks in them.

    Kelly
    NF moderator.

  31. Hello,
    Its awkward to talk about this, but I’m afraid that my husband will want to stop this diet because when he passes gas he now passes stool as well.
    We’ve never had issues with bowel movements. Well, we have at least three a day sometimes more. I also have an issue in that every time I urinate I also have a slight bowel movement that is very loose. I really want us to stick to this way of eating, but I don’t know what to adjust or if it will just take time for our bodies to adjust. Thank you for any help you can give us.
    SN

    1. This is definitely an unusual response to consuming a whole food plant based diet. Fecal incontinence is not typically caused by simply eating a healthy plant based diet. Is there perhaps an unusual food or supplement that he has started taking? Psyllium husks, weight loss supplements, “detox” products, MCT oil, or some processed vegan food? You might consider working with a plant-based practitioner who can help you fine-tune the diet. If this condition does not resolve after a couple of weeks of working with a practitioner, he should see his regular physician to find out if something more serious is going on.

      Dr. Jamie Koonce

      1. I don’t eat any processed foods at all. I cook every day. I had to quit eating beans. I know! Vegans eat gobs of beans, but I’m telling you that I simply cannot eat them. Every time I try to add just a bit into my diet I’m hit with the same problem. So what’s a wannabe plant based dieter to do? Well I just make sure I eat a lot of all the other plants and whole grains. I’m never hungry. Also try going easy on the cruciferous veggies. If I eat too many of those the same thing happens. Poop poop and more poop too much poop!!!

  32. I have the same problem. I asked here months ago about a loopy redundant colon. I either don’t go at all (if I don’t eat lots of beans and greens and cruciferous veggies) or I have the same problem SN’s husband has. I wear a pad all of the time because it’s uncontrolled. I’ve been WFPB 8 months and had hoped things would improve but they haven’t. It’s a no win for me.

  33. Is it “normal” to have significantly larger and VERY soft stools just after switching to a plant-based diet? I started this diet about a week ago and I’m spooked by what’s going on “down there.” Thanks!

  34. Oh yes! Nothing to be worried about though. WFPB diet contains massive amounts of cellulose which you cannot digest. It’s what prevents diverticulosis and colon cancer (among many other maladies). This translates into HUGE stools. If you find them uncomfortably “pasty” and “messy” then eat more raw green leafy veggies and cruciferous veggies that will firm things up a bit. Smaller? Nope. This is all normal and the way we evolved to exist.

    Dr. Ben

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