15 Foods That Are Natural Laxatives
Keep your digestive tract healthy with one of these foods that are natural laxatives.
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 percent water, so this is an awesome choice to keep the bowels moving,” says Libby Mills, MS, RDN, LDN, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in the greater Philadelphia area. Water helps keep the food you eat moving through your intestines and … beyond. Find out when you should (and shouldn’t) take laxatives.
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 fiber, which helps soften stool so it’s easier to go, normalizes bowel movements, and may even prevent hemorrhoids.
Your favorite jam ingredients contain a very important component of bowel health, which is pectin. “This is a type of soluble fiber that makes those cooked foods gel up as they cool,” says Mills. Blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries are all tasty options. (Don’t miss these other 11 home remedies for constipation.)
Along with prunes, grandma should have prescribed raisins. This snack contains stool-softening magnesium and fiber—and most people think raisins taste better than prunes, too. Figs, also a good source of fiber, are another good choice for anyone looking for natural laxatives.
Yogurt and kefir contain probiotics, which help maintain a healthy balance of gut bacteria. “When you suddenly have more microbes ‘eating’ the fiber, that’s going to help things pass more quickly,” says Mills. (Here are 21 more health secrets your gut is trying to tell you.)
Chia and flaxseeds
Topping your yogurt or oatmeal with chia and flaxseeds could be a laxative bomb (trust us: in a good way). These seeds are high in fiber, 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.
Apples and pears
These fall fruits are packed with pectin, a type of fiber 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 fiber, which helps solidify loose stools, lubricates the large intestine to promote the flow of waste, and may even play into colon health, says Mills. Find out what your bowel movements reveal about your health.
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, fiber, magnesium, and vitamin B6. They also keep the nervous system healthy, which plays a role in bowel movements.
Granola bars and protein bars aren’t found in nature but they often contain chicory root fiber. “This is completely natural and can cause pretty quick emptying,” says Mills. Best of all, they’re easy to travel with. For more fixes that you can use on the go, try these smart tricks for avoiding constipation when you travel.
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 fiber. If natural laxatives aren’t helping, get to the root of the issue with these 12 surprising things that give you constipation.
- Libby Mills, MS, RDN, LDN, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in the greater Philadelphia area.
- Mayo Clinic: Dietary Fiber: “Essential for a Healthy Diet.”
- Harvard Medical School: “6 Self-Help Tips for Hemorrhoid Flare-Ups.”
- Michigan Medicine: “Magnesium for Constipation.”
- Cleveland Clinic: “Magnesium Rich Food.”
- FoodData Central: “Raisins”
- FoodData Central: “Figs”
- FoodData Central: “Seeds, Chia Seeds, Dried”
- FoodData Central: “Flaxseed”
- FoodData Central: “Sweet potato, baked, peel not eaten, fat not added in cooking.”
- FoodData Central: “Pumpkin”
- International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders. “Common Causes of Chronic Diarrhea.”