Laxatives help to draw water into the stool to produce large soft stools that are easy to pass, especially if you’re experiencing constipation. Although you can purchase over-the-counter laxatives, most of the time you can eat foods that provide a laxative effect without the worry of chemicals or extra expense. If you are experiencing persistent constipation or irregularity, however, you should contact a medical professional as this may be due to an underlying cause.
Flaxseed is a rich source of dietary fiber that can help to reduce high cholesterol levels, improve cardiovascular health and function as a mild laxative, according to the book “Quick Access Patient Information on Conditions, Herbs and Supplements” by Integrative Medicine Communications. The compound mucilage in the flaxseed is responsible for the laxative effect, which is a thick substance naturally produced by plants. Mucilage works with dietary fiber to stimulate the intestines to both absorb nutrients and expel waste.
Dark Green Leafy Vegetables
Dark green leafy vegetables not only contain essential vitamins and nutrients, they also have high levels of insoluble fiber that acts as a laxative. The cellulose from these plants cannot be absorbed by the body, helping to push out accumulated waste in those experiencing constipation, according to Janet Zand, et al., in the book “Smart Medicine for Healthier Living.” Laxative-like veggies such as dandelion and turnip greens also contain vitamins A, C and K, as well as potassium and magnesium.
The mango is a common folk medicine remedy for treating constipation and diarrhea due to its diuretic, laxative and astringent qualities, according to Uddhav Kulkarni in the book “We Are What We Eat.” Not only is it a healthy source of dietary fiber, but it is also plentiful in vitamin C and potassium, which helps those experiencing constipation. Jorge Valera says in the book “Healthy Children,” that eating an unripe mango can also provide relief for gastro-intestinal issues like indigestion.
- FamilyDoctor.org: Laxatives - OTC Products for Constipation
- “Quick Access Patient Informamtion on Conditions, Herbs and Supplements”; Integrative Medicine Communications; 2000
- “Smart Medicine for Healthier Living”; Janet Zand, et al.; 1999
- “We Are What We Eat”; Uddhav Kulkarni; 2005
- “Healthy Children”; Jorge Valera; 2010