Does Fiber Make You Poop?

By Arielle Mitton
Medically reviewed checkmarkMedically reviewed
April 27, 2022

Fiber is an important part of a healthy diet. Eating a diet rich in fiber sourced from vegetables, fruits, and whole grains can offer many health benefits, including decreasing your risk of dying from heart disease and cancer

But there’s another important benefit of eating fiber – fiber can improve your colon health, including increasing stool frequency.

If you suffer from occasional constipation, increasing your daily fiber intake may help you find relief. 

Understanding how fiber can benefit your health and which foods are rich sources of fiber can help you make the right dietary choices when you’re feeling constipated.

In this article, I will explain the different types of fiber and how they affect your digestive health.

I will also explain how much fiber you should aim to consume each day and when you may want to reach out to a healthcare provider for help with your constipation or digestive concerns.

Different Types of Fiber

Fiber is an essential component of a healthy diet.

Fiber refers to the parts of plant foods (including vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains) that the body can’t digest or absorb.

Because the body can’t process fiber the way it can with carbohydrates or proteins, much of the fiber we eat passes through the digestive tract intact.

Importantly, there are two different types of fiber that benefit our health in different ways:

  1. Soluble fiber: Soluble fiber dissolves in water to form a gel-like material. It can help soften stools, lower blood cholesterol, regulate blood sugar levels, and slow the absorption of carbohydrates from foods. A variety of plant foods are rich in soluble fiber, including: black beans, lima beans, brussel sprouts, avocado, sweet potato, broccoli, turnips, pears, oats, apples, seeds, prunes, berries, nuts, peas, citrus foods, carrots, barley, and psyllium.
  1. Insoluble fiber: Insoluble fiber doesn’t dissolve in water as it moves through the digestive tract, but it does attract water to the intestine, increasing the bulk and softness of stool. By helping waste move more smoothly through your system, insoluble fiber helps to prevent constipation and regulate bowel movements. Other health benefits of insoluble fiber include reducing the risk of developing hemorrhoids and diverticulosis. Foods that are good sources of insoluble fiber include: whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts, beans, cauliflower, green beans, potatoes, cucumbers, squash, celery, tomatoes, and seeds.   

Most fiber-rich foods are excellent sources of both soluble and insoluble fiber.

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Fiber and Digestive Health

When consumed, fiber has a direct impact on digestive health.

It affects the rate of food digestion, the absorption of nutrients, and the movement of stool through the colon.

It also provides a surface on which beneficial intestinal bacteria can thrive.

One of the most common causes of constipation, or difficulty having regular bowel movements, is inadequate consumption of dietary fiber.

Gradually increasing dietary fiber intake can help to relieve occasional and sometimes chronic constipation.

A consistent dietary fiber intake pattern can also help improve the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). 

Does Fiber Make You Poop More?

Simply put: Yes, increasing your dietary fiber intake does increase stool frequency, especially in people with constipation.

This happens because increasing your intake of both soluble and insoluble fiber can help increase the weight and softness of your stool, speeding up its movement through your digestive tract.

However, some of the other symptoms associated with constipation, like poor stool consistency and painful defecation, are not as directly improved by increasing dietary fiber intake. 

How Much Fiber Do I Need?

Most adults should get between 25-31 grams of fiber each day.

However, the exact recommendation will vary depending on your age and sex.

It’s also important to keep in mind that if you’re starting from a low-fiber diet, you should gradually increase your fiber intake, rather than all at once, to avoid unwanted side effects like gassiness and bloating.  

Men

Men between the ages of 19-59 should aim to eat 38 grams of dietary fiber per day.

Men over the age of 50 should aim to eat roughly 30 grams of dietary fiber per day. 

Women

Women between the ages of 19-59 should aim to eat 25 grams of dietary fiber per day, while women over the age of 50 should aim to eat roughly 21 grams of fiber per day.

Incorporating adequate amounts of fiber into your daily diet can improve your colon health and stool regularity, but there are other benefits.

Evidence suggests that adequate daily dietary fiber intake (from vegetables and cereals more so than from fruit) is associated with a decreased risk of death caused by severe health conditions like respiratory and infectious. 

Additional benefits of consuming fiber-rich diets may include weight maintenance, improved satiety (feelings of fullness after eating), and a decreased risk of dying from heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and colon cancer. 

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When to See a Medical Provider

Adding more fiber-rich foods into your diet can benefit your health in many ways.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of mild constipation, adding more fiber to your diet is a good place to start when trying to find a home remedy.

Slowly increase your fiber intake, drink plenty of water, and avoid ultra-processed and fast food to help get your bowel movements regular again. 

But changing your diet or lifestyle isn’t always enough to relieve your constipation.

If you’re suffering from chronic constipation that won’t go away, it’s important to reach out to your doctor for help as soon as possible. 

In some cases, chronic constipation can be a sign of something more serious.

If your constipation isn’t responding to a change in dietary fiber intake or other treatments, keep an eye out for more severe symptoms.

If you experience any of the below symptoms, seek emergency medical attention right away:

How K Health Can Help

Did you know you can get affordable mental health care with the K Health app? 

Download K to check your symptoms, explore conditions and treatments, and if needed, text with a provider in minutes. K Health’s AI-powered app is HIPAA compliant and based on 20 years of clinical data.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does fiber make you poop more often?
Yes, increasing your fiber intake can make you poop more often, which can be especially helpful if you’re suffering from constipation. Insoluble fiber specifically helps draw water into the colon and add bulk and softness to your stool, helping it pass more smoothly through the digestive tract. Foods rich in insoluble fiber include whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts, beans, cauliflower, green beans, potatoes, cucumbers, squash, celery, tomatoes, and seeds.
How long after eating fiber will I poop?
It’s difficult to determine precisely how long it will take for the fiber ingested from food to help move stool through your digestive tract. This is because everybody’s digestive system functions at a different pace. However, it generally takes around 24 hours from increasing your dietary fiber intake to have a successful bowel movement. But keep in mind that it may take more or less time for some people.
Does fiber act as a laxative?
Evidence shows that increasing your dietary fiber intake can increase stool frequency, which can be helpful if you’re struggling with constipation. However, increasing your dietary fiber intake may not improve your stool consistency or relieve symptoms of painful defecation.

K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

Arielle Mitton

Dr. Mitton is a board certified internal medicine physician with over 6 years of experience in urgent care and additional training in geriatric medicine. She completed her trainings at Mount Sinai Hospital and UCLA. She is on the board of the Hyperemesis Research Foundation to help women suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum.

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