We came across this tweet
(or X) sometime ago about this guy who doesn't like eating leafy vegetables. We thought he should be in trouble of constipation due to the lack of fibre in his diet.
But no, he "poops like a champ 2-3x a day".
For years, we've been told that eating leafy green vegetables is essential for good bowel movements. The high fibre content in greens like spinach and kale is often cited as the key to avoiding constipation.
offered a different perspective on what actually makes up our poop and how to keep our digestive system running smoothly.
The Composition of Poop
According to Wikipedia, fresh human feces contains around 75% water and the remaining solid fraction is 84–93% organic solids.
These organic solids consist of:
- 25–54% bacterial biomass
- 2–25% protein or nitrogenous matter
- 25% carbohydrate or undigested plant matter
- 2–15% fat.
- The remaining solids are composed of calcium and iron phosphates, intestinal secretions, small amounts of dried epithelial cells, and mucus.
Only about 6% of our faecal matter is fibre. The majority is liquid water, making up about 75% of the total volume. The remaining 25% consists of bacteria biomass, protein, carbohydrates, and fat. This raises the question: if fibre makes up such a small percentage, is it really that crucial for good bowel movements?
Soluble and Insoluble Fiber
Fibre is an essential component of a balanced diet, but did you know that not all fibre is created equal?
There are two main types: soluble and insoluble fibre.
What is Soluble Fibre?
Soluble fibre dissolves in water, forming a gel-like substance in the digestive system. This type of fibre is found in foods like oats, beans, and fruits such as apples and oranges.
Soluble fibre is said to help lower cholesterol (see Portfolio Diet
), regulate blood sugar and aid in digestion. Some soluble fibre, such as inulin which we use in our high fibre series
, also act as prebiotics. It is food for your healthy gut bacteria, and it promotes the growth of beneficial microorganisms in the intestines.
What is Insoluble Fibre?
Insoluble fibre does not dissolve in water. It adds bulk to the stool and helps food pass more quickly through the stomach and intestines. You can find this type of fibre in whole grains, vegetables, and fruits like grapes and tomatoes.
While it adds bulk to your poop and makes you feel full longer, it could interfere with nutrient absorption.
While leafy greens do contain fibre, humans can derive all essential nutrients from an animal and fruit-based diet. This challenges the notion that we must eat our greens for better health and digestion.
The Real Heroes: Fat and Water
Fat and water are important aids for constipation. If you are taking more fibre without adding more water and fat, it is like packing a clogged toilet with more toilet paper.
Water hydrates and softens the stool, while fat acts as a lubricant, making it easier for the stool to pass through the digestive system. Both are essential for maintaining a healthy digestive system and should be included in a balanced diet for optimal gut health.
You get water from:
- Drinking water
- Drinking more water
Some sources of healthy fat:
- Olive oil
- Coconut oil
- Palm oil
- Animal fats
The tweet offers a fresh perspective on the role of fibre and leafy greens in our diet. While both soluble and insoluble fibre do play a role in digestion, the role of fat and water is often overlooked.
What do you think? If you suffer from constipation constantly, here are some questions to ask yourself.
Are you drinking enough water?
Are you eating enough healthy fats?