Infrequent bowel movements making your trips to the toilet painful? You’re likely to be suffering from constipation. This condition is caused by a lack of fiber or water or both in your diet. It is accompanied by bloating and gas. While constipation can be a short-term affliction for some people, it can be chronic and cause extreme discomfort to others.
Substances that stimulate bowel movement and ease constipation are known as laxatives. They’re available at drugstores in several varieties, each working differently on your body. Although over-the-counter laxatives may relieve constipation temporarily, they aren’t good for you in the long run. They may result in acid/base changes and electrolyte imbalance in your body, posing a threat to your heart and kidneys.1 Wondering how you can relieve constipation without consuming store-bought laxatives? Try these 10 great foods that function as natural laxatives, keeping constipation at bay.
Prunes are one of the best options for dealing with constipation naturally because they’re easily available. Eating them speeds up bowel movement thanks to their abundant fiber and sorbitol (a natural sugar) content.2
2. Whole Grains
Whole grains are covered by a fiber-rich layer called bran. Eating whole grains like oats, barley, and rye will increase your fiber intake, relieving constipation and easing stool passage. You can also prevent constipation by replacing any refined grains you’re consuming with whole grains.3
Legumes such as beans, lentils, and chickpeas are rich sources of fiber. This makes them great natural laxatives. Besides abundant fiber, legumes also contain a fatty acid called butyric acid, which has been found to reduce difficulties in bowel movement and hence relieve constipation.4
Avocados are naturally rich in fiber and they move through the digestive system very easily, relieving constipation.5 These soft, buttery fruits can be spread onto a slice of whole wheat bread for a healthy breakfast.
Guavas, like avocados, move smoothly through your gut and are abundant in fiber. This makes them a great choice for naturally relieving constipation.6
6. Brussels Sprouts
Apart from their amazing antioxidant properties, brussels sprouts are known to have high fiber content, which makes them particularly effective against constipation.7 However, if you tend to have bloating and gas troubles, ensure that you increase your intake of brussels sprouts gradually and not all at once.
Most berries are naturally rich in fiber, making them ideal for relieving constipation.8 Their skins, in particular, contain large amounts of roughage, which help stools pass through the digestive tract easily.
8. Sweet Potatoes
The abundant fiber in sweet potatoes keeps stools soft and allows their easy movement by absorbing water in the digestive tract. This helps in relieving and preventing constipation. Hospitalized patients who have been advised to rest often find themselves constipated because they don’t move around much. Sweet potatoes work wonders in such cases.9 A small serving of sweet potatoes also works great for treating constipation in babies.
Squash is a great source of water and fiber. Both these nutrients allow for smooth movement of food through the digestive tract and normal stool formation, relieving constipation effectively.10
10. Sugar Beets
Sugar beets contain a very high percentage of fiber, and this is just what makes them an ideal natural laxative.11 However, if you’re not particularly fond of beets, roast them with a few of your favorite herbs and then eat to enjoy a tasty treat.
Fluids such as fresh fruit juices and water can help you stay hydrated and relieve constipation. It’s also important to steer clear of alcohol in severe conditions. In cases of infants consuming formula and suffering from constipation, diluting the formula a bit more with clean water can ease the symptoms.12
So, ditch those store-bought laxatives and try these natural ones instead to relieve yourself from constipation.
|↑1||Roerig, James L., Kristine J. Steffen, James E. Mitchell, and Christie Zunker. “Laxative abuse.” Drugs 70, no. 12 (2010): 1487-1503.|
|↑2||Attaluri, A., R. Donahoe, J. Valestin, K. Brown, and Satish Sanku Chander Rao. “Randomised clinical trial: dried plums (prunes) vs. psyllium for constipation.” Alimentary pharmacology & therapeutics 33, no. 7 (2011): 822-828.|
|↑3||Streicher, M. H., and Lucille Quirk. “Constipation: Clinical and roentgenolosic evaluation of the use of bran.” American Journal of Digestive Diseases 10, no. 5 (1943): 179-181.|
|↑4||Pituch, Aleksandra, Jarosław Walkowiak, and Aleksandra Banaszkiewicz. “Butyric acid in functional constipation.” Przeglad gastroenterologiczny 8, no. 5 (2013): 295.|
|↑5, ↑6, ↑7||Duke, James. The Green Pharmacy Guide to Healing Foods: Proven Natural Remedies to Treat and Prevent More Than 80 Common Health Concerns. Rodale, 2009.|
|↑8||Constipation. Johns Hopkins Medicine.|
|↑9||Ren, Kai, Jingbo Qiu, Xiaohua Wang, Fenglin Niu, and Tingbo Jiang. “The effect of a sweet potato, footbath, and acupressure intervention in preventing constipation in hospitalized patients with acute coronary syndromes.” Gastroenterology nursing 35, no. 4 (2012): 271-277.|
|↑10||Constipation. Johns Hopkins Medicine.|
|↑11||Giacosa, A., S. G. Sukkar, F. Frascio, and M. Ferro. “Sugar beet fibre: a clinical study in constipated patients.” Dietary fibre: chemical and biological aspects. Eds Southgate AT, Waldron K, Johnson IT and Fenwick GR. AFRC Institute of Food Research, Norwich, Special Publication 83 (1990): 355-361.|