According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), constipation is one of the most commonly reported health problems. The data suggests that about 16% of U.S. adults and one in three adults over age 60 experience constipation. Although there are over-the-counter medications available to treat constipation, not all of them are safe for everyone. That is why many people decide to turn to natural laxatives to encourage bowel regularity.
Who Can Benefit From Natural Laxatives?
There are many laxatives available to help people who frequently experience constipation. Herbal teas, detox tinctures, pills, enemas, and more work in various ways to achieve the same result: elimination. Some laxatives are stimulant agents, while others are bulking agents or osmotic products. Natural laxatives, however, get the job done without the unpleasant side effects of over-the-counter products.
Although over-the-counter laxatives may get the job done in the short term, they don’t fix underlying digestive issues. They may even make the body dependent on them in order to use the restroom. That is why health experts encourage people to eat more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and lots of water. Additionally, it is beneficial to get sufficient sleep and practice relaxation techniques to reduce stress. If you need help promoting regular bowel movements, the following foods may be your ticket to long-term regularity.
Water is life and the benefits of drinking it are legendary. The kidneys and liver require water to operate effectively and efficiently, as these organs require water to clean the blood, produce urine, and help the body get rid of waste. If you don’t drink enough water, your risk of constipation or poor digestion is much higher. Keep things moving by drinking half your bodyweight in ounces of water every day. If you weigh 150 pounds and divide that by two to get 75, you should be drinking 75 ounces of water per day.
Known for their omega-3 and fiber content, chia seeds have an ability to absorb water in the gastrointestinal tract. Because of that, chia seeds work similarly to a laxative. They combine with liquid to form a gelatinous substance that moves easily through the digestive tract. Make sure to enhance your fluid intake when you consume more chia seeds. Try to soak the chia seeds before adding them to a recipe or smoothie for maximum benefits. Place them in a 1:10 ratio of chia to water, let them sit for 30 minutes, and then add that to the smoothie.
If you want to consume various vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber, and antioxidants while promoting optimal digestion, eat more leafy greens. Not only do leafy greens provide a lot of fiber, but they also contain plenty of magnesium. Magnesium is an electrolyte that naturally and safely softens stool, drawing water in from the gut. Without enough magnesium in the body, it is difficult for stool to move easily through the digestive tract. Magnesium also relaxes muscles in the digestive tract, helping you pass stools more easily.
As a quick note, make sure that you purchase 100% coconut water. A lot of coconut water varieties contain excess or added sugars, artificial colors and flavors, and other preservatives. Opt for pure coconut water for the best nutritional benefits. Coconut water can help you maintain healthy electrolyte levels, helping to clear out the urinary tract. Coconut water is a great option for some people who experience constipation because it helps loosen stools, making elimination easier.
If you want to eliminate with ease, you need to consume more fiber. One meta-analysis found that dietary fiber increased stool frequency in patients with constipation. Ideally, you should consume between 25-40 grams of fiber per day, with adult men requiring a little more than women and smaller individuals. Get your fiber from whole, unprocessed foods whenever possible, instead of choosing artificial fiber supplements. Great high-fiber foods include berries, apples, pears, avocados, Brussels sprouts, okra, peas, and figs.
A lot of health experts agree that 100% pure aloe vera juice is one of the best natural laxatives in existence. Aloe vera juice contains enzymes, vitamins, electrolytes, and minerals that work to soften stool and aid digestion. Anthraquinones are compounds in aloe vera that act like laxatives because they increase intestinal water content. They also stimulate mucus secretion and increase intestinal peristalsis (contractions that break down food). Aloe vera juice also exhibits anti-inflammatory properties that reduce swelling in digestive organs. This juice may also help normalize the acid/alkaline balance in the gut, in addition to encouraging the growth of healthy digestive bacteria.
An excellent source of fiber, flaxseeds add bulk to your stool and help it pass through the digestive tract. In addition to providing three grams of fiber per tablespoon, flaxseeds help to treat constipation and diarrhea, according to studies. Just as with chia seeds, make sure to drink a lot of water when you eat high-fiber foods like flaxseeds. Without sufficient fluid intake, you may have more bathroom troubles!