Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclaimer for more information.
Oatmeal is one of my favorite breakfasts. It is easy and quick to make. In fact, oats and oatmeal are considered one of the healthiest grains on the planet. They are packed with nutrition, including unsaturated fatty acids, minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and fibers.
Some proven health benefits of oatmeal include lowering blood cholesterol levels, boosting heart health, improving blood sugar control, and reducing the risk of childhood asthma. But can oatmeal make you poop too?
Here’s what I found after doing extensive research.
Does Oatmeal Make You Poop?
Oatmeal prompts you to poop mainly due to its high amount of dietary fiber. Fiber helps regulate bowel regularity and relieve constipation. Oatmeal is particularly rich in soluble fiber, which is capable of absorbing water and increasing your poop’s weight to make it easier to pass through your intestines.
Unlike other types of carbohydrates, your body cannot digest or break down fiber. So it will instead be passed along your gut undigested.
Both forms of fiber, soluble and insoluble fiber, are beneficial to your digestive health.
Soluble fiber dissolves in water and creates a gel that may boost digestion in many ways. On the other hand, insoluble fiber pulls water into your poop to soften it and speeds up its passage through your digestive system. It also adds fecal bulk to make it easier for your poop to pass.
Oatmeal is especially loaded with soluble fiber.
The main form of soluble fiber found in oats is known as beta-glucan. Raw, whole oats contain around 2.3% to 8.5% of beta-glucan, which is mainly stored in the oat bran.
Research shows that beta-glucan fermentation and breakdown increase the growth of gut microbiota, which in turn improve some digestive problems, including constipation, diarrhea, and irritable bowel syndrome or IBS.
Other potential health effects of beta-glucan fiber include:
- Decreased LDL and total cholesterol level
- Decrease insulin response and blood glucose
- Increase satiety and suppress appetite
- Protect against colon cancer
Other great sources of beta-glucan are mushrooms and barley.
Apart from soluble fiber, oatmeal also provides insoluble fiber, including cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin, all of which add bulk to your poop and make you poop more often.
In addition to helping you poop easier and more frequently, fiber-rich oatmeal helps prevent constipation.
A randomized controlled trial published in the Journal of Nutrition, Health, and Aging found that oat bran, the outer layer of the grain that is loaded with fiber, may help alleviate constipation in older people.
Another controlled clinical trial that involved 30 seniors from a geriatric hospital showed an improvement in the patients’ well-being and bodyweight after consuming dessert or soup containing oat bran every day for 12 weeks.
What’s more amazing is that up to 59% of these seniors were able to discontinue the use of laxatives after the 3 months trial.
This finding is remarkable since laxatives, albeit effective for relieving constipation in the elderly, may lead to weight loss and decreased quality of life.
Interesting fact: Sometimes, oats are used to alleviate inflammatory skin conditions like eczema. In fact, they are commonly used as an ingredient for making facial masks.
Can you eat too much oatmeal?
Eating too much high-fiber oatmeal too quickly may cause some negative effects on your body, including intestinal gas and abdominal bloating. Also, since you may add sugar or sweet items to sweeten the dull oatmeal, consuming it in a large amount may notably increase your sugar intake and add extra calories.
Therefore, while oats are nutritious and generally considered safe for consumption, you do have to be mindful of the amount you eat per day.
To reduce the side effects and give your digestive system enough time to adjust, be sure to incorporate oats into your diet slowly starting with a low dose, and gradually increasing the quantity to your preferred amount.
The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines recommend American women to consume about 25 g of fiber every day, whereas men are advised to eat around 30 g of fiber daily, depending on age.
Sadly, a study published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine reported that a majority of Americans fall short of meeting this guideline.
According to Livestrong, to meet the USDA Dietary Guidelines’ daily recommended grain intake, you can consume up to 6 oz of oatmeal (for a standard 2,000-calorie diet).
Apart from intestinal gas, cramping, and abdominal bloating, other side effects or disadvantage of eating too much oatmeal include the following:
- Restricting your nutritional palate: If you eat oatmeal every day, you’ll be missing out on many other delicious, healthy foods that can give you energy and nourishment.
- May result in malnutrition and muscle mass reduction: While oatmeal helps suppress your appetite and makes it easier for you to lose weight, too much of it may result in muscle mass shedding and malnutrition. Eating only oatmeal throughout the day can also disturb your cognitive functions and decrease your sharpness and alertness.
- May lead to weight gain: If you don’t watch out for the amount of toppings you put on your oatmeal, you might accidentally put on weight over time due to the additional calories and sugar of the toppings.
Why does oatmeal give me diarrhea?
In most cases, oatmeal serves as a natural remedy for diarrhea; its soluble fiber helps bind your poop and make it more firm. But if you experience symptoms like nausea and diarrhea after eating a bowl of oatmeal, you may be sensitive or allergic to a certain protein found in oats known as avenin.
If you are sensitive or allergic to oats, your body’s immune system response will be triggered when you eat oats or oatmeal.
This reaction causes your body to create antibodies to fight off the alien components that it recognizes as a threat, which in this case is avenin.
Oat allergy is rare but can happen in adults, kids, and even infants. Its symptoms range from mild to severe and include the following:
- Irritated, blotchy, itchy skin
- Skin irritation or rash on and in the mouth
- Itchy eyes
- Scratchy throat
- Stomach pain
- Nasal congestion or runny nose
- Have trouble breathing
Oat allergy may lead to milder symptoms that take longer to manifest.
However, these symptoms might become severe if you consume oats regularly. These symptoms include diarrhea, fatigue, and stomach inflammation and irritation.
Nevertheless, in certain cases, people experiencing symptoms after eating oats may not have oats allergy at all. Rather, they may be sensitive to gluten or have a celiac disorder.
Gluten is a kind of protein typically found in rye, wheat, and barley. Although oats are naturally gluten-free, the facilities where they are grown and processed typically also manage substances containing gluten, including wheat and rye.
So there is a chance of cross-contamination between these products, resulting in a trace amount of gluten being present in oat products.
Therefore, if you have gluten sensitivity, you should make sure any products you use or consume that have oats are labeled gluten-free.
If you still experience stomach issues or gastric discomfort when eating oats despite them being gluten-free, you may be overly sensitive to foods containing a high amount of fiber.
If you have irritable bowel syndrome or IBS, the IFGD or International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders recommends trying different kinds of fiber to see if you have diarrhea after consuming oatmeal or experience what you think is an oatmeal-triggered stomach upset.
One effective way to help you determine if you have an oat allergy or other sensitivity is by keeping a food diary.
Be sure to consult with your doctor if you think oatmeal causes you to have gastric discomfort or other symptoms to rule out any severe health conditions.
What is the healthiest way to eat oatmeal?
You can enjoy oatmeal in various ways. The easiest way to prepare healthy oatmeal is by having oats with milk and nutritious toppings. Combine ½ cup of rolled oats with 1 cup of milk and a pinch of salt and cook them in a pot. Afterward, add nutritious toppings like nuts, seeds, fruits, cinnamon, or Greek yogurt.
You should read the package instructions carefully for the specific cooking times.
Less-processed oats like steel-cut generally take around half an hour to cook, while instant oats take only about 1 to 2 minutes.
Other healthy and tasty oats recipes you can try for breakfast include oats uttapam, oats upma, and oats pancake.
For lunch, Food NDTV recommends recipes like oats khichdi, oats and chicken porridge, and oats idlis. For dinner, you can try making oat-crusted chicken tenders, rosemary mushroom oatmeal, yogurt and oats kebab, and oatmeal soup.
Is oatmeal a laxative?
Healthline proposed oat bran as one of the best natural laxatives to help keep your digestive system healthy. It has high soluble and insoluble fiber content. One cup of raw oat bran contains 14.5g of dietary fiber. A study from Austria found oat-fiber as a safe and convenient alternative to laxatives for the elderly.
Does oatmeal make you lose weight?
Oatmeal contains a unique soluble fiber called beta-glucan that helps you feel full longer and suppress your appetite, which in turn helps you eat less calories and lose weight. Beta-glucan promotes the release of a satiety hormone known as peptide YY that helps decrease calorie intake and may lower the risk of obesity.
Are oats hard on your stomach?
Oatmeal is generally good and healthy for your stomach. It is nutritious and rich in soluble fiber, which boosts digestion, prevents constipation, and relieves symptoms of an upset stomach. But some people are sensitive to oats’ protein or fiber and may experience an upset stomach after eating oats.