15 Foods That Are Natural Laxatives
Keep your digestive tract healthy with one of these foods that are natural laxatives.
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 Libby Mills, MS, RDN, LDN, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Water helps keep the food you eat moving through your intestines and… beyond.
Here’s one more reason to embrace carbs and eat more bread: they’ll 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, normalizes bowel movements, and may even prevent hemorrhoids.
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Blueberries and strawberries
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.
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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.
Grandma should have prescribed raisins instead of prunes. Not only is this dried snack higher in stool-softening magnesium and fibre, most people think it tastes better, too. Plus, it doesn’t contain the same bloat-inducing sugar alcohol, sorbitol, that prunes do. Figs are another good choice for anyone looking for natural laxatives.
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Yogurt and kefir contain probiotics, which help maintain a healthy balance of gut bacteria. Probiotics are little micro-organisms that break down fibre. “When you suddenly have more microbes ‘eating’ the fibre, that’s going to help things pass more quickly,” says Mills.
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Chia and flaxseeds
Topping your yogurt or oatmeal with chia and flaxseeds is a laxative bomb (trust us: in a good way). These seeds are super high in fibre, which helps normalize 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 hemorrhoids, this might help,” says Mills.
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Apples and pears
These fall fruits are packed with pectin, a type of fibre that stimulates the bowels and keeps things flowing regularly.
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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.
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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.
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This low-carb, low-sugar wonder is packed with fibre, critical to constipation relief. It also has potassium, a mineral that acts as an electrolyte to keep the digestive tract balanced.
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Your morning cup of joe stimulates your brain and your bowels. Caffeine gets things moving, but too much coffee can actually cause constipation, so be mindful of how much you’re drinking.
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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.
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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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