Constipation is a taboo subject for many people. Americans spend three-quarters of a billion dollars on laxatives every year, and it’s not helping. Pharmaceutical laxatives and stool softeners often make constipation worse. Laxative overuse can lead to dependency, making it difficult or impossible to have a bowel movement without using strong laxatives. A better plan is to incorporate foods into your diet that have a natural laxative effect. While pharmaceutical laxatives tend to result in explosive emergencies, these foods produce a mild laxative effect.
They won’t send you sprinting for the restroom, but if you incorporate a few of them into your daily diet, they should keep things moving so regularly that laxatives become completely unnecessary. 22 Natural Laxative Foods High-fiber foods, like fruits, vegetables, and beans, support gut health and promote regularity. In addition to a high-fiber diet, look for foods that can stimulate the digestive system, encourage enzyme activity, or assist in detoxification. When possible, consume foods that are organic, pesticide-free, seasonal, and fresh. Each of the following 15 foods produces a natural laxative effect without the unwanted side effects of OTC laxatives. These foods can help relieve common symptoms of constipation, as well as many other gastrointestinal issues. Before you start taking laxatives or stool softeners, try incorporating more of these laxative foods into your diet. Prunes and Plums We might as well start off with the fruit that’s most famous for its laxative properties.
They are especially high in dietary fiber, which is what gives them their relieving properties. Prunes also promote the health of beneficial bacteria in the gut, making them a great addition to any colon-cleansing diet. You can also try prune juice, but be sure to read the ingredients label and get one that’s made only from prunes and water. Bananas Bananas are high in pectin, a soluble fiber that normalizes bowel function. This makes them a natural bulk-producing laxative, and a great way to promote easy digestion. Since bananas have a high potassium content, eating a banana a day will help restore valuable electrolytes to your intestinal tract.
Bananas also contain a natural compound called fructooligosaccharide, which can help beneficial bacteria proliferate in your large intestine. Be sure the bananas you pick are fully ripe. Unripe bananas contain heavy starches and can cause constipation. Apples An apple has as much dietary fiber as a bowl of bran, and it tastes a lot better. The high pectin content stimulates the bowels and provides bulk for breezier bowel movements. If you’re looking for laxative foods for children and toddlers, apples are a good choice. While your little ones might shy away from prunes, a sweet, tasty apple is usually an easy sell. ACV contains acetic acid, which helps food break down more efficiently in your stomach. Berries High in antioxidants, berries rank among my favorite foods.
They also help relieve constipation with their high dietary fiber content. I recommend consuming the following berries during any colon cleanse and on a daily basis afterwards—blueberries, strawberries, bilberries, cranberries, blackberries, goji berries, and acai berries. Aloe Vera Aloe vera is one of the oldest and most popular medicinal plants known to man. The bulk of the aloe vera leaf is filled with a gel that contains beneficial vitamins, minerals, amino acids, phytonutrients, and enzymes. Aloe latex is a very harsh laxative, and can cause cramping. What you want is inner leaf aloe, a much more mild laxative. The piquant root is known for effectively relieving gastrointestinal distress, which is why many commercial laxatives contain ginger extracts. Dried ginger is also an ingredient in many laxative teas.
Ginger works by relaxing the intestinal tract, allowing elimination to proceed smoothly. Turmeric Like ginger, turmeric has a long history of culinary and medicinal use in many Eastern cultures. It gets both its rich golden color and its healing properties from a natural phytochemical compound called curcumin. Bitter Melon Bitter melon, also known as goya, bitter gourd, and balsam-pear, is a vegetable grown in tropical regions around the world and appreciated for its health-boosting properties. It is less known in the United States, but if you can find it, I recommend giving it a try. Loaded with beneficial phytochemicals and nutrients, constipation relief is just one of bitter melon’s many uses.
Leafy Green Vegetables When you are ready to detox your body, fill your refrigerator with kale, spinach, dandelion greens, alfalfa, chard, mustard greens, arugula, or other dark leafy greens. They act as natural laxatives and are high in dietary fiber, calcium, folic acid, magnesium, and vitamins A, C, and K. These essential nutrients aid your digestion and overall health. Tomatoes Tomatoes are great laxative foods, rich in fiber and vitamins A, C, and K. Additionally, they are very high in lycopene, an antioxidant that helps protect you from developing colon cancer and prostate cancer. If possible, I recommend buying locally-grown, organic tomatoes. Avocados Avocados are packed with beneficial nutrients such as dietary fiber, potassium, vitamin K, and folate. Furthermore, avocados contain an antioxidant called lutein along with vitamin E, magnesium, and healthy monounsaturated fats.
Avocado also improves the absorption of nutrients from other foods. Coconut Oil In animal studies, researchers have discovered that coconut oil may help protect the colon and digestive tract from damage, keeping your primary route of elimination clear and in good health. Look for raw, organic extra virgin coconut oil. This assures that it’s unrefined and contains no harsh chemicals or genetically modified additives. Legumes Legumes like beans and peas are one of the very best laxative foods. They aid digestion, are high in fiber, and are low in both fat and cholesterol. Raw Seeds and Nuts Incorporate more raw seeds and nuts into your diet. Not only are they delicious, seeds and nuts are rich in fiber, vitamin E, protein, zinc and other essential nutrients.
Flaxseed, pumpkin seeds, almonds, walnuts, hemp seeds, sesame seeds, chia seeds, cedar nuts, and sunflower seeds are all great choices. Carrots High in pectin, they add bulk to stool and can stimulate bowel contractions. If you’re eating carrots to help relieve constipation, eat them raw. Raw carrots are more effective at relieving constipation than cooked. Broccoli Extremely high in antioxidants and fiber, broccoli can help stimulate detoxification enzymes in the digestive tract. Broccoli sprouts are more effective than the fully-grown vegetable, containing a higher concentration of beneficial nutrients. Cauliflower Eating cauliflower will increase the amount of glucosinolate in your system, which supports the production of enzymes in the liver. These liver enzymes help flush carcinogens and other toxins from your body. There are many excellent cauliflower recipes to help you add this great-tasting veggie to your diet.
Cabbage Much like other cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower, eating cabbage helps flush out toxins and soften stool for easier bowel movements. To maximize the potential of cabbage, consume it as kimchi or sauerkraut for the probiotic benefits. Probiotic Foods Every normal, healthy human gut is home to around 100 trillion beneficial microorganisms. Together, these organisms are called your microbiota, and they are critical to your gastrointestinal system and overall health. Fermented foods help stock your system with these beneficial bacteria. The large fruit contains high levels of dietary fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins A, C, and B6. Chinese traditional medicine prescribes watermelon as a mild laxative. As for why that’s important, read on.
Water Last, but most definitely not least, don’t forget to hydrate! Drinking plenty of purified water is one of the best natural ways to relieve constipation. It helps moisten the intestines, regulating bowel flow. Drink half your body weight in ounces every day. In other words, if you weigh 180 lbs, you need at least 90 oz of water daily. Be sure to add more if you’re doing anything that makes you sweat. Foods That Cause Constipation Now that we’ve gone through such trouble to incorporate all these laxative food into your diet let’s not undo our hard work. There are some foods that cause constipation. If you are prone to irregularity, avoid ice cream, cheese, meat, and processed foods.
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