Remember chatting with your friends about how you hadn’t pooped all week? Of course you don’t, because that conversation never happened. Constipation isn’t the most comfortable of topics. But for most women, occasional constipation is a part of life.
Fortunately, what you eat goes a long way toward relieving or preventing the unpleasant condition. According to William Chey, MD, a University of Michigan professor and editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Gastroenterology, constipation is often the result of a fiber shortage. The average American eats 8 to 12 grams of fiber a day—not nearly enough, Chey says.
Fiber needs vary from person to person. But a good target for women is 25 grams per day, while men should aim for 38 grams, says Arthur Beyder, MD, PhD, a gastroenterologist at Mayo Clinic.
If you’re not getting enough fiber, be sure to increase your intake gradually to avoid gut troubles like bloating and gas, Chey says. Beyder recommends upping your fiber intake by 5 grams every 3 days until you reach the recommended amount.
While fiber is paramount, there are lots of foods that aid (or ail) your constipation issues. Here are 10 foods to include in your diet—and 3 foods to avoid if you’re having poop issues.