Some available natural laxatives include chia seeds, flaxseeds, apples, berries, legumes, kefir, leafy greens, aloe vera, castor oil, and olive oil. Include also foods rich in soluble and insoluble fiber for better bowel movement.
Laxatives are medicines that can help promote your digestive health for both children and adults by relieving constipation and enhancing a regular bowel movement. Nevertheless, several natural foods can act as laxatives in preventing constipation and ease your bowel passage. Therefore, incorporating natural laxatives in your diet could help treat persistent digestive problems such as gas accumulation, constipation, and stomach pains.
Laxatives: What Are They, And How Do They Work?
These are medicine and substances ingested to stimulate your bowel movements or loosen your stool for ease passing through the colon. They also help accelerate the bowel movement in the digestive tract, thus treating constipation, a condition associated with painful bowel movements. Laxatives are divided into several classes depending on their function. These classes include:
They are undigestible and help in absorbing water to swell to form a stool.
Absorb water along the digestive tract to soften stool, making them easier to pass through the intestine and rectum.
They act as a coat on the stool’s surface and smear the intestinal lining to keep it moist for easier passage of the softened stool.
work best with the colon enhancing its water retention, thus enhancing the bowel movement frequency.
They function in the ileum, drawing water in this area for better bowel movement.
They increase the speed at which bowels move down the digestive tract by inducing bowel movement.
Since continual use of laxatives can result in electrolyte disturbance and an imbalance in the acid-base condition in the body that could result in kidney and heart damage, it is important to incorporate some natural laxatives in your meals for improved bowel movements. The natural alternatives are cheap with minimal side effects. They are as follows.
Chia seed is full of fiber and can act as a natural treatment for constipation. Since it is digested in the colon, it moves through the other part of the digestive tract undigested, thus adding bulk to the stool leading to regularity. Several studies agree that increasing fiber in one’s diet can help soften stools and increase their frequency and passage. One ounce of chia seed can provide 11 grams of fiber, making it a better alternative to over-the-counter laxatives. In addition, the soluble fiber in chia seed helps absorb water to form a gel that could soften the stool for easy movement.
Berries are full of nutrients and are high in fiber which makes them an excellent alternative for laxatives. Berries such as strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries boast a fiber content of between 3grams and 7.7 grams per cup of berries, depending on the type of berries. ADA-American Dietetic Association proposed that women need 25grams of fiber, while men need 38 grams of fiber every day for stool movement and prevention of chronic diseases. Berries have soluble and insoluble fiber like chia seed, with soluble fiber helping in forming a gel that softens the stool. On the other hand, insoluble fiber help with adding the bulk of the stool, thus promoting easy movement.
Legumes such as beans, lentils, chickpeas, peanuts, and peas are rich in fiber that could increase regularity. For instance, a cup of lentils weighing 198 grams provides 15.6 grams of fiber, while 164grams of chickpeas contain 12.5 grams. Additionally, legumes can stimulate the body to produce butyric acid, a short-chain fatty acid that can act as a natural laxative. Apart from acting as an anti-inflammatory agent alone the intestinal walls, Butyric can increase bowel movement in the digestive tract, thus treating constipation.
Just like its sister chia seed, flaxseeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids and protein for your general health. In addition, studies show that flaxseed can act as a natural laxative and is often used in treating diarrhea and constipation. For example, one animal study published in 2015 suggested that flaxseed could increase guinea pigs’ stool frequency and reduce diarrhea by 84%. It is also rich in both insoluble and soluble fiber, thus improving intestinal transit time and increasing the stool’s bulkiness.
The fermented milk is beneficial for gut health by providing probiotics needed by gut microbiomes for better digestive health. Studies indicate that consumption of probiotic supplements increases regularity, stool consistency, and internal transit time. Kefir fits the bill by adding bulk and moisture to soften stool. Using kefir will improve bowel movement and reduce the use of laxative drugs by a large margin.
This oil that comes from castor beans has been used as a natural laxative for centuries. It releases ricinoleic acid, which is an unsaturated fatty acid that acts as a natural laxative. This compound activates receptors within the digestive tract to induce intestinal muscle movement, promoting bowel movements. In addition, some studies have shown that castor oil may help reduce constipation symptoms by reducing defecation straining, softening stool, and reducing the feeling of incomplete evacuation.
Vegetables like spinach, cabbage, and kales can also enhance bowel movement and thus preventing constipation. Apart from the minerals and vitamins, they also provide fiber in high amounts with few calories. The fiber in these leafy greens promotes regularity, in addition to the mineral magnesium, which is the main component in most laxatives for drawing water. The magnesium in leafy green boosts the fiber in ensuring enhanced regularity.
Apple is not only nutritious, but it also harbors a high amount of fiber, with one cup providing three grams of fiber. According to studies, the soluble fiber in apple can increase the transit speed of the bowel in the colon and help promote friendly bacteria since it acts as a prebiotic in the gut system. Therefore, the apple is good at preventing constipation and improving the digestive tract. Indeed, an apple a day keeps the physician away.
Olive oil can act as a lubricant laxative by coating the digestive tract, including the rectum, for a faster bowel movement and easy stool passage. One study showed that combining olive oil and some colon cleansing formula can help spur bowel movement and reduces constipation than using other laxatives.
The inner lining of aloe vera produces a gel called aloe vera latex used in treating constipation. The gel containsanthraquinone glycosides, a compound that can draw water to the stool moving in the intestine, thus stimulating movements in the digestive tract.
The Bottom Line
Laxatives are medicines used to promote bowel movements and reduce constipation in both adults and young ones. However, one can also incorporate natural laxatives with fiber content and compounds that soften and lubricate both stool and the intestinal lining to enhance bowel movement and passage.