You might give your dog pumpkin when their stomach is upset but what about pumpkin for humans? Does pumpkin make you poop?
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Pumpkin is good for your gut
Pumpkin may make you poop and that is because pumpkin is good for digestion. Consider pumpkin as part of your fall routine to help keep you regular.
Pumpkin is high in soluble fiber
Pumpkin is high in soluble fiber and that type of fiber helps for easy, effortless poops.
Fiber doesn’t get digested so it will move through your entire digestive tract. As it travels through your gut the soluble fiber attracts water and this helps make your poops softer. Softer poops mean that it will be easier for you to have a bowel movement.
Pumpkin seeds also have fiber. In general, seeds are a source of insoluble fiber. This type of fiber can also help you poop because it adds weight and bulk to your poop making it easier to pass.
Pumpkin may impact the gut microbiome
Generally speaking, fiber acts as fuel for your good gut bugs. When it comes to the fiber in pumpkin, there is emerging research looking at its impact on the gut microbiome.
For example, there was a study that observed how pumpkin showed an increase of bifidobacteria (1). Bifidobacteria is one of the first bacteria to make a home in your gut and has been associated with health benefits like staying regular, helping diarrhea, and the potential to help colon cancer (2).
Another study looked at the effects of pumpkin polysaccharides (polysaccharides are a form of carbohydrates) on the gut microbiome in mice. Researchers found that pumpkin improved the blood sugar in mice with type-2 diabetes and it may be related to the effect the pumpkin had on the gut microbiome(3).
Pumpkin has potassium
Pumpkins will provide you with 490 mg of potassium which is 10% of the daily value (4). Potassium is important to your whole body, including the digestive system, because of the roles it plays with water balance and nerve function.
Low blood levels of potassium can show a variety of symptoms and constipation is one of them (2). In a study with older people, it was found that low potassium in their diet (along with other vitamins/minerals) was associated with functional constipation (5).
Pumpkin can be high in FODMAPs
Canned pumpkin can be high in FODMAPs and that may be making you poop. FODMAPs can be more of a concern for people with IBS.
According to the Monash University FODMAP app, a half-cup serving of canned pumpkin can be high in fructans and GOS. These are types of carbohydrates that aren’t digested well which can cause digestive discomfort like bloating, gas, and possible diarrhea.
Learning to find your tolerance for FODMAP foods will help. Working with a dietitian (here’s a list of dietitians that specialize in this area) can be of great help along with a food and mood journal (you can download a free template here).
How to use pumpkin
Pumpkin is pretty versatile and can go from sweet to savory making it a great fall produce to have in your kitchen.
There are tons of different pumpkins that are edible. Check out these 20 different types of pumpkins you can pick and whip into different dishes.
If you’re looking to add a little sweetness to savory dishes you will want to roast the pumpkin. Pick a sugar pumpkin (these are the ones you’ll usually find in the store) because those will roast very well.
To get you started below you will find different recipes using pumpkin. Try any or all of these as a way to build more kitchen confidence, a key part of The Mindful Gut™ Approach.
And if you don’t have the time to make your own or just don’t feel like this pumpkin puree is my fave.
Bake with pumpkin
Baking with pumpkin is a classic way to use this orange fruit.
1. Vegan pumpkin cookies
Pumpkin and chocolate chips are a magical combo. These vegan Halloween cookies from Phoenix Vegan Dietitian come together quickly and you probably already have all the ingredients in your pantry.
2. Protein pumpkin muffins
Muffins are the perfect morning treat but sometimes you want something with a little extra oomph. These pumpkin protein muffins from No Food Rules get their protein from whole milk greek yogurt.
Add pumpkin to your snacks
Pumpkin can just as easily blend into your snacks.
1. Mix pumpkin into an energy ball
Energy balls are the perfect snack and super portable. Using canned pumpkin with dates and coconut flour these are an easy no-cook snack from Lara Clevenger.
2. Pair pumpkin granola with yogurt
Use canned pumpkin to add some pizzazz to a homemade pumpkin spice granola. Using oats with almond butter and seeds you’re going to have great granola for your yogurt and more like this granola recipe from Eat With Me RD.
Cook cozy recipes with pumpkin
Pumpkin makes everything feel cozy and warm and these recipes ring in the fall season.
1. Make a creamy pumpkin dressing without dairy
Want a creamy dressing for your pasta without dairy? Try this pumpkin pasta sauce from Lettuce Veg Out that blends pumpkin with coconut milk.
2. Mix leftover pumpkin into your latte
We have to have a recipe for a PSL from Beautiful Eats and Things. This brown sugar pumpkin spice latte is perfect for when you just have a couple of tablespoons of leftover pumpkin.
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Amanda is a pizza loving registered dietitian nutritionist specializing in mindfulness and gut health. She quickly realized that gut health goes beyond the gut; it is also about honoring our gut feelings. She is the creator of The Mindful Gut™ which uses science and strategy to help people improve their gut health.