7 Totally Normal Reasons You're Pooping a Lot, According to a Dietitian

Many things can contribute to frequent poops. Here are seven of them—and they can be normal.

Poop habits, characteristics and frequency can tell a story about your health, though not all toileting changes should put you into panic mode. While poop varies from person to person, how often one poops depends on many factors, such as eating habits, hydration status and age. There's no set number of times a day someone should go No. 2. That said, most people go caca between one and three times per day. If lately, you've been living in the loo, resting in the restroom or chasing the chamber pot, you might be pooping more often. Here are seven possible reasons you're pooping a lot, which can be normal.

1. You're Eating More Plant-Based Foods

If you've recently aligned your eating habits to be more plant-forward—like swapping chickpea pasta for traditional pasta or upping your intake of cruciferous veggies—you may be eating more fiber than before. The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans say Americans fall short of meeting recommended intakes of dietary fiber. Most everyone is familiar with fiber, the roughage nutrient that helps keep you regular by preventing and relieving constipation. Plant-based diets are rich in fibrous foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. People who eat vegetarian diets (including vegans) are likely to consume more of these high-fiber foods and tend to poop more on average than non-vegetarian and non-vegan eaters. Those frequent poops owe it all to fiber pushing stool through the digestive tract.

2. You Might Be Lactose Intolerant

Does a glass of milk trigger bloat and stomach bubbles? If so, you may be lactose intolerant like 68% of the world. Lactose is a naturally occurring milk sugar in milk and milk products that's digested by lactase enzymes after consumption. People with lactose intolerance have low levels of lactase enzymes, making it difficult for them to break down lactose effectively. Undigested lactose in the intestines can cause symptoms from gassiness to stomach cramps. Loose, watery stools are also a symptom of lactose intolerance; having three or more loose stools daily indicates diarrhea.

3. You Might Be Drinking Coffee

Many early risers depend on their morning java fix to start the day, whether for an energy boost, flavor or comfort. According to the National Coffee Association, Americans sip three cups of coffee daily on average. Running to the restroom after coffee drinking can be expected. In fact, a large number of people agree that coffee, regardless of caffeination, triggers a desire to poo. So, what is it about coffee that makes it pro-poop? Coffee increases contractions in the colon 50% more than water, and it also can cause flatulence, abdominal cramps and urination. Researchers have seen less powerful effects of decaffeinated coffee on colon muscle movement, leading them to believe its active ingredients, including gastrin and motilin, may directly impact gut muscles.

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4. You May Have a Digestive Illness

Digestive diseases can be tricky to diagnose because many conditions share the same symptoms. Your excessive poops could be pinned on an underlying disease like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn's disease or celiac disease, since diarrhea is a symptom of all three.

  • IBS: A group of gastrointestinal symptoms that happen together, such as diarrhea, constipation and abdominal pain.
  • Crohn's disease: A chronic disease that triggers an irritated and inflamed digestive tract that can cause bowel obstructions, malabsorption and ulcers.
  • Celiac disease: An autoimmune disease of the digestive tract that's triggered by ingesting gluten, a protein found in many foods. There are 200 known symptoms, so changes in your bowel habits aren't enough for a diagnosis.

If you are concerned you may have a digestive disease, or if digestive diseases run in your family, it may help to speak with a medical provider.

5. You're Menstruating

Profuse pooping during your period is a common occurrence—as if things couldn't get any messier or uncomfortable. It's no surprise your body experiences hormone fluctuations before, during and after menstruation—and yes, they are to blame for these period poop struggles. The offender? Prostaglandins. Research says at menstruation, there's a spike in prostaglandins, natural chemicals that contract smooth muscle tissue in the uterus. And because your uterus is close to your intestines, it's thought that the prostaglandins also may trigger diarrhea or loose stools seen in the first couple days of your period. Plus, women with IBS often report more symptoms during periods. So, period poop happens, but you're not alone!

6. You May Have Food Poisoning

It's not uncommon to experience food poisoning after consuming foods carrying harmful bacteria such as E. coli or Salmonella. Roughly 1 in 6 Americans get sick with food poisoning every year. Just 30 minutes after eating contaminated food, your body can react through stomach cramps, vomiting and diarrhea (even the explosive kind). You can take precautions to help prevent food poisoning by cooking foods to recommended temperatures, separating raw from cooked foods, and ordering fully cooked meat and seafood while eating out.

7. You're Stressed Out

Stress is a normal response to life happenings and hits everyone differently. For some people, stress may cause emotions like worry or fear, while others manifest stress physically, like rapid heartbeat, sweating and pooping more than usual. There's plenty of proof that stress triggers IBS, and that's because it influences your gut health. When we think of stress, anxiety and other mood disorders, we often focus on nerves and brain health. However, many gastrointestinal disorders like IBS can stem from stress and its ability to stimulate the gut-brain axis. An enormous population of bacteria lives in your gut and profoundly influences your overall health. Your brain and gut are linked and communicate all the time, and the health of one impacts the other. So, your stress woes may be multiplying your bathroom trips. You can help manage your stress levels by eating foods to lower stress, starting a self-care plan and moving your body in ways you enjoy.

The Bottom Line

Changes in your bowel habits aren't always a cause for concern, and lifestyle tweaks like drinking more water or upping your fiber intake can be why your bathroom trips have increased. Because pooping a lot can also indicate food intolerances or digestive diseases (common conditions), it can be a good idea to see a trusted medical provider if you also notice other symptoms.

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