Does Milk Help You Poop

In this brief article, we will answer the question, “does milk help you poop?”, and will also discuss what happens when you cannot poop, the effects of consuming dairy products on digestive health, and the foods that can help you poop. 

Does Milk Help You Poop?

Milk can both help you poop because processed milk contains lactulose, a carbohydrate derived from lactose. Lactulose is known to have laxative effects. 

When milk is pasteurized or sterilized (in the case of UHT milk), lactose reacts in the Maillard reaction with milk proteins or isomerizes into lactulose. Different thermal processes lead to the formation of different concentrations of lactulose in milk (5). 

Besides, studies have shown that the consumption of 1 to 4 servings of milk per day may reduce constipation symptoms. Evidence showed that cow’s milk contains specific glycoproteins that possess prebiotic properties, which may modulate the gut microbiome composition, which plays a key function in regulating bowel movements. Therefore, consuming less dairy or not consuming dairy at all may lead to deprivation of key ingredients from the diet that benefits gut microbiome composition and may consequently instigate constipation (2).

Can Hot Milk Make You Poop?

Yes, hot milk can make you poop. Hot milk contains higher concentrations of lactulose in its composition than raw milk, since lactulose may be generated by heating milk. Lactulose is a disaccharide derived from lactase, which has both prebiotic to laxative actions. 

Although consuming milk or dairy products can in fact can cause constipation to  people who are allergic to milk protein or have lactose intolerance (3), some individuals can benefit from a warm glass of milk to stimulate bowel movement, due to the stimulating effect of the milk on the gut microbiota, which favors bowel movements and due to the presence of lactulose (2).

Why Does Dairy Sometimes Make It Difficult To Poop?

Dairy sometimes makes it difficult to poop for individuals who are allergic to milk protein or individuals who are intolerant to lactose. Lactose, when not digested, ferments in the intestine, generating compounds which modify the normal functions of the intestine. This may cause gastrointestinal symptoms, such as abdominal cramps, diarrhea and even constipation (6).

In children, constipation caused by milk is associated with protein allergies. But the possible link between dairy and constipation remains understudied in adults; importantly, there is no clear consensus on what type and component of dairy may relate to constipation. Fermented dairy products such as yogurt, acidified milk, and cheese consumption have demonstrated an inverse association with constipation (2).

Which Dairy Products are effective to help you poop?

Dairy products containing probiotic bacteria are effective to help you poop. Fermented milks, yogurts, kefir and buttermilk are some examples of dairy containing probiotic bacteria. 

There is a great importance of intestinal flora in the prevention and treatment of constipation. Studies show that the consumption of fermented dairy products results in the colonization of the intestine by probiotic bacteria, which improves intestinal functions. Changes in the composition of the intestinal flora may result in changes of metabolites of bacterial fermentation and in enhanced intestinal motility, attributable to a lowering of the pH value or a shortening of transit time (7).

How Often Should You Poop?

Individuals generally poop between three times a day to three times a week. Hence anything within this range is deemed healthy.

Pooping less frequently than this is considered constipation, and more frequently might mean diarrhea, and either indicate signs of compromised gut health.

What Happens When You Can’t Poop?

When you can’t poop, in addition to having discomfort, you may have poor life quality. According to the medical community,  reduced bowel movements or difficulty pooping results in constipation. 

Primary constipation is also referred to as functional constipation. Secondary constipation is associated with chronic disease processes, medication use, and psychosocial issues. Chronic functional constipation, defined as having one bowel motion every 3 to 15 days, is characterized by the presence of symptoms for at least three months (1,2).

People with constipation often have the following complaints:

  • dry, hard, or lumpy poop
  • bloating and difficulty passing gas
  • poop that resembles marbles or tiny stones
  • discomfort and pain while passing stool
  • feeling that the bowels aren’t fully empty
  • significantly reduced appetite because of the continuous feeling of fullness
  • bright red streaks in the poop or on the toilet paper after cleaning
  • hard stools, abdominal bloating, pain, and distention (1).

Each individual has different eating behaviors and bowel habits; however, constipated individuals generally have less than three bowel movements in a week.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, about 16 out of every 100 adults suffer from constipation in the United States, and the risk increases with age, about 33 out of 100 adults ages 60 and older have symptoms of constipation. 

What Foods Can Make You Poop?

Foods that can make you poop contain fibers or probiotics. However, rather than focusing on a single food item, you should follow a diet that favors a healthy function of your intestine. Your diet should contain ample natural fiber from sources like fresh fruits and vegetables, either cooked or raw, along with whole-grain cereals and breads. In addition, you should ingest a sufficient amount of liquids. The following healthy, natural foods and beverages can help you poop (4).

  • Water: dehydration causes constipation because sufficient water isn’t added to the poop from the intestines. Consuming water can prevent this problem and make poop less hard and lumpy.
  • Yogurt: fermented dairy products such as yogurt and kefir contain good bacteria known as probiotics, mainly Lactobacillus acidophilus, and Bifidobacterium lactis. These improve gut health and soften poop.
  • High-Fiber Foods: beans, chickpeas, lentils, peas, wheat bran, grapes, blackberries, cereals, and pasta are all good sources of fiber/insoluble fiber that promote digestion and relieve constipation. These foods also contain other nutrients that help you poop, such as zinc, folate, and vitamin B6.
  • Plain Soup: clear soups are easy to digest, nutritious, and add moisture to dense poop which makes it easier to pass.
  • Prunes: besides their fiber content, prunes are rich in phenolic compounds and sorbitol which has gastrointestinal benefits.
  • Broccoli: the sulforaphane in broccoli protects the gut, aids digestion, and prevents the growth of harmful intestinal microorganisms that can cause constipation.
  • Pears and Apples: these fruits contain various compounds that aid digestion, including sorbitol, fiber, and fructose. They also contain high quantities of water that softens poop; eating them raw with the skin intact provides the most benefit.
  • Kiwis: Kiwis contain fiber and the enzyme actinidin which promotes gastrointestinal movement, along with various phytochemicals that enhance digestion and promote bowel movement. 
  • Flaxseed and Olive Oil: these oils have a moderate laxative effect, which eases the movement of substances through the intestines and promotes passing poop. Moreover, they contain antibacterial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Sauerkraut: this fermented food product contains probiotic bacteria that promote the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut, improve digestion and prevent constipation. Probiotics may also enhance immune function and the digestion of lactose.
  • For babies, the best is breast milk. The fat composition of human milk may help create softer stools. Besides, breast milk contains non-digestible oligosaccharides, which act like dietary fiber, stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria, and promote maturation of the gastrointestinal tract (4).


In this brief article, we answered the question, “does milk help you poop?” and discussed what happens when you cannot poop, the effects of consuming dairy products on digestive health, and the foods that can help you poop. 

If you have any questions or comments, please let us know.


  1. Mounsey, Anne, Meghan F. Raleigh, and Anthony Wilson. Management of constipation in older adults. Am family phys, 2015, 92, 500-504.
  2. Aslam, Hajara, et al. Associations between dairy consumption and constipation in adults: A cross-sectional study. Nutr health, 2021, 02601060211004784.
  3. Crowley, Elesa T., et al. Does milk cause constipation? A crossover dietary trial. Nutrients, 2013, 5, 253-266.
  4. Bae, Sun Hwan. Diets for constipation. Pediatr gastroenter hepat nutr, 2014, 17, 203-208.
  5. Schuster-Wolff-Bühring, Regina, Ronnie Michel, and Jörg Hinrichs. A new liquid chromatography method for the simultaneous and sensitive quantification of lactose and lactulose in milk. Dairy Sci Technol, 2011, 91, 27-37.
  6. Pereira, Paula C. Milk nutritional composition and its role in human health. Nutrition, 2014, 30, 619-627.
  7. Koebnick, Corinna, et al. Probiotic beverage containing Lactobacillus casei Shirota improves gastrointestinal symptoms in patients with chronic constipation. Canad J Gastroenterol, 2003, 17, 655-659.