Opt for these natural laxatives
Foods that are natural laxatives could help keep you regular and prevent constipation, increasing the chances that you won’t need over-the-counter products to fix this common problem. While these tasty alternatives don’t have exactly the same effect as a laxative – no need to worry about running to the bathroom after you eat them – they are a gentle and effective way to improve your digestion and prevent problems.
This sweet summer treat might be one of Mother Nature’s most surprising but effective fruits to keep you regular because of its super high water content. “Watermelon is close to 99 per cent water, so this is an awesome choice to keep the bowels moving,” says dietitian, Libby Mills. Water helps keep the food you eat moving through your intestines and … beyond.
Here’s one more reason to embrace complex carbohydrates and eat more unrefined bread: they may help you go. Whole grains like quinoa, bulgur, brown rice, whole wheat, oatmeal and barley are high in dietary fibre, which helps soften stool so it’s easier to go, normalises bowel movements, and may even prevent haemorrhoids.
Your favourite jam ingredients contain a very important component of bowel health, which is pectin. “This is a type of soluble fibre that makes those cooked foods gel up as they cool,” says Mills. Blueberries, strawberries and blackberries are all tasty options.
Dark leafy greens
Kale is more than a food trend, it’s also one of nature’s best natural laxatives. Dark leafy greens like kale, collards, Swiss chard and spinach contain magnesium, a mineral that helps soften stools, making them easier to pass.
Along with prunes, grandma should have prescribed raisins. This snack contains stool-softening magnesium and fibre – and most people think raisins taste better than prunes, too. Figs, also a good source of fibre, are another good choice for anyone looking for natural laxatives.
Yoghurt and kefir contain probiotics, which help maintain a healthy balance of gut bacteria. “When you suddenly have more microbes ‘eating’ the fibre, that’s going to help things pass more quickly,” says Mills.
Chia and flaxseeds
Topping your yoghurt or oatmeal with chia and flaxseeds could be a laxative bomb (trust us: in a good way). These seeds are high in fibre, which helps normalise the stool in size and shape, as well as a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which play a role in easing inflammation. “You don’t think of our bowels as getting inflamed, but if you have any issue like haemorrhoids, this might help,” says Mills.
Apples and pears
These fall fruits are packed with pectin, a type of fibre that stimulates the bowels and keeps things flowing regularly, explains Mills.
Broccoli and cauliflower
This duo contains a double whammy of both soluble and insoluble fibre, which helps solidify loose stools, lubricates the large intestine to promote the flow of waste, and may even play into colon health, says Mills.
Juicy fruits like oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes not only boast a high water content, which softens stools and reduces bloat, they also contain large amounts of bowel-stimulating pectin. “Anything that is super juicy is great to keep things moving,” says Mills.
The sweet potato is a superfood for a reason. Sweet potatoes contain an array of nutrients that act as natural laxatives, such as water, fibre, magnesium and vitamin B6. They also keep the nervous system healthy, which plays a role in bowel movements.
This low-carb, low-sugar wonder is packed with fibre, critical to constipation relief. Pumpkin also has potassium, a mineral that acts as an electrolyte to keep the digestive tract balanced.
Your morning coffee stimulates your brain and your bowels. Caffeine gets things moving, but too much coffee can actually cause diarrhoea, so be mindful of how much you’re drinking.
Granola bars and protein bars aren’t found in nature but they often contain chicory root fibre. “This is completely natural and can cause pretty quick emptying,” says Mills. Best of all, they’re easy to travel with.
If you need help going, try using sauerkraut as more than a condiment. This fermented cabbage is high in probiotics, which aid in the digestive process. Cabbage, before it becomes sauerkraut, is also good because it contains fibre.
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