Okay, so you'd probably rather not talk about the status of your bowel movements. But we're a health and fitness publication, and we're all about letting you know what foods can help and hurt your overall health. So, let's talk digestion.
"Fiber plays a number of key roles in optimizing health, preventing chronic disease, and promoting bowel regularity," says Brooke Alpert, M.S., R.D., C.D.N. founder of B Nutritious. Also known as roughage, fiber is the indigestible portion of healthy, unprocessed foods; and it comes in two forms: insoluble and soluble. "Insoluble fiber adds bulk to your stool and thus alleviates constipation, while soluble fiber forms a gel in your digestive system to increase feelings of fullness and help reduce cholesterol levels," Alpert adds.
Fiber's not the only dietary godsend for your bathroom habits. "Probiotics are just as important because they help balance your digestive system and also reduce occasional diarrhea, as well as gas and bloating," Alpert says. "Eating and drinking fermented foods regularly is a great way to make sure you have enough healthy bacteria in your gut to keep things balanced," she adds. While these aren't always the most palatable options (looking at you, kefir and kimchi), you can also keep your gut healthy by taking a daily probiotic like Culturelle, Alpert suggests. It's made with 100% Lactobacillus GG—the most clinically studied bacteria strain—so it'll help you maintain a healthy digestive system.
To increase your daily fiber and probiotic intake, gradually allow your body to adjust and drink plenty of water (this will also alleviate constipation), she recommends.
The following 12 foods either contain fiber or serve as a probiotic. They also all happen to be healthy, so fill up on 'em all.