While popcorn won't necessarily make you poop, it can help, which is the reason it is often recommended as a snack if you are constipated.
The food has been around for much longer than you may think. While Orville Redenbacher often gets a lot of credit for inventing popcorn, this is far from the truth.
Popcorn has actually been around for thousands of years, the oldest piece of popcorn being discovered in a New Mexican cave that is estimated to be around 4,000 years old (source: Popcorn.org).
Were our ancestors eating it just because they could, or was this an ancient remedy to treat constipation and make one poop?
The answer is unclear, but the point is that popcorn is very old and can help return your bowel movements to normal... or potentially increase them a bit too much and lead to diarrhea...
2 Ways It Helps With BM's
#1) It's a Good Source of Fiber
As explained on the popular show The Doctors, popcorn is a great source of fiber which is excellent for pooping...
One of the most common reasons for irregular bowel movements, whether it be constipation or diarrhea, is not getting the right amount of fiber.
For most people this means not getting enough. There are plenty of studies out there showing that many people, Americans for one, don't get close to enough, largely because of an inadequate consumption of whole grains. It was recently reported that only about 5 percent of Americans meet the Institute of Medicine's RDA, which is 25g for women and 38g for men.
Luckily for us, the tasty treat of popcorn is a 100% whole grain and is loaded with fiber. A three cup serving of air popped popcorn (the healthy kind) will provide you with about 3.5g of fiber.
A serving like this every now and again could tip the scales in your favor.
Soluble fiber absorbs water and helps soften stool, making it easier to pass. Insoluble fiber, which is what popcorn mainly has, adds bulk and helps ease the passage as well. Both can help.
#2) Fats Can Help With Bowel Movements
While the actual popcorn itself doesn't have much fat at all, we all know that most popcorn that you find out there is coated in some sort of oil or butter, which adds to the delicious taste--and subtracts from the health benefits.
According to VeryWellFit, a serving of popcorn (3 cups) popped in oil will give you about 14g of fat and a serving popped in butter about 12 grams.
Butters and oils can help induce bowel movements in more ways than one.
Just as a you want to keep the transmission in your car lubricated, it also helps to have some fats and oils in your diet which can help keep your insides lubricated, making it easier for BM's to happen.
Additionally, some people have trouble digesting fasts, which can lead to increased water being secreted by the colon and small intestine--and this can help loosen stool to make it easier to pass--or if you have too much it can cause diarrhea.
One of the problems here, however, is that it is advisable to avoid popcorn that is coated in butter and whatnot, simply because it's unhealthy.
So while this is definitely a reason that eating popcorn can make you poop (although not the actual popcorn), it should be avoided. Sorry to those of you reading this with the hopes of resolving your constipation problem--but hey, the fiber will still help!
Popcorn and Gastrointestinal Problems - When Not To Eat It
While eating some good quality air-popped popcorn (the healthy kind) may be a good choice for helping get a bowel movement going for some people, if you have gastrointestinal problems it may not be.
Those who suffer from IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) are going to want to proceed with caution. It will depend on the person and many people with IBS will be able to eat popcorn with no problem, but for some it will trigger flareups, which could result in stomach pain, diarrhea, etc.
The same goes for people with Crohn's disease--the fiber that popcorn is packing can make symptoms worse. Insoluble fiber in particular is what Crohn's disease sufferers want to avoid, and this happens to be what popcorn has the most of.
Furthermore, popcorn is notorious for having very hard and large pieces of fiber. Much of its hulls and shells won't digest and will rub on the inside of the intestines, causing irritation.
Popcorn and Diarrhea
While eating popcorn isn't likely to cause any problems if you are in good health, it can--as many healthy foods can when consumed too much.
Insoluble fiber is great and all, but having too much adds too much bulk to stool and causes too much water to come into the colon. Eating a lot of popcorn will give you a lot of insoluble fiber and there won't be much soluble fiber to balance it out, which is the fiber that absorbs water. The outcome can potentially be diarrhea.
And as mentioned above, consuming too much fat can also lead to diarrhea, which could easily happen if you are eating a lot of popcorn that is doused in butters and oils, such as your typical movie theater popcorn.
It's also worth mentioning that if you currently have diarrhea it's smart to avoid eating such. This is why many of the top foods for diarrhea sufferers are very low in fiber, the opposite of popcorn.
Besides being a potentially healthy snack (as long as you eat the healthy kind) that is a great source of fiber and can relieve you of constipation, popcorn has other benefits.
A Great Source of Antioxidants
When you think of foods that are high in antioxidants you often think of fruits, vegetables and whatnot. You don't really think about popcorn, but what you have to remember is that corn is a fruit.
Popcorn is loaded with polyphenols, which are antioxidants.
Antioxidants are substances that help protect cells in your body from harm, which can lead to everything from signs of aging to diseases.
It actually has more than most of your vegetables and fruits, and is considered to be the best snack food for antioxidants.
That said, don't think you can start cutting all the healthy fruits and vegetables out of your diet. This is not a replacement.
Good For Weight Loss
As long as you are eating healthy air-popped popcorn and not that greasy movie theater stuff, it can help aid in weight loss.
Its low calorie density and high fiber content make for a weight loss friendly food that will help give you a fuller feeling without as much calories as most foods.
Vitamins & Minerals
While it may not be that great of a source of these nutrients, popcorn will provide you with some B vitamins and minerals like magnesium, zinc, copper, iron, phosphorus, potassium and manganese--which is better than nothing.
Conclusion - Good for Pooping & Overall Health
Whether you are constipated or just looking for healthy snack that isn't going to fill you up without too many calories, popcorn is a good choice.
Air-popped is always the way to go. This type of popcorn doesn't need oil or butter, unlike the microwavable popcorn that is often coated in a semi-toxic artificial butter flavoring--not to mention that the microwavable bags contain potentially harmful chemicals themselves.