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Foods That Have a Laxative Effect

Updated on August 4, 2009
a farricelli
a farricelli

Dealing with constipation may be quite an annoying ordeal to deal with, and it comes natural to want to find quick relief. Before, heading towards the medicine cabinet for some over the counter or prescription pills, it is certainly worth it to give food a try. Selecting the right type of food can really make a difference and going for the natural route is the best way to deal with these sort of problems.

Generally, fiber is big helper when it comes to things slowing down. Indeed, one of the most common causes of constipation is a diet poor of fiber. According to the National Center for Health Statistics*, Americans on average eat about 5 to 14 grams of fiber daily, while the American Dietetic Association recommends eating between 20 to 35 grams.

Fiber rich foods work by creating heavier and bulkier stools which stimulate contractions (peristalsis), allowing stools to be passed more easily. Following are some special foods that may do the trick. Make sure to incorporate them in your diet should you be suffering from bouts of constipation.

  • Cereal

A good constipation cure begins from the morning. Choose a brand of bran cereal with high fiber contents. The fiber content may be found on the side of the box. A very good choice is Fiber One cereal or Raisin Bran cereal. Both have very good contents of fiber and can be a tasty and energetic start for the day.

  • Prunes

Prunes and prune juice are two very common foods that are used for their laxative effects. Prunes contain fiber, sorbitol and dihydrophenylsatin which all work together to get things finally moving. In order to work well, the prunes must be dry so its laxative effects are concentrated. You must be cautious with the prune juice:drink too much and it may turn painful.

  • Coffee

Coffee is a strong stimulator and may stimulate the bowels enough to produce a much anticipated bowel movement. A cup of strong coffee along with a bran cereal bar may do the trick. However, drink too much and you may end up with the opposite problem. Both Caffeinated and decaffeinated coffees may act as stimulants.

  • Pears

Pear juice is a good alternative for prune juice when looking for a gentler natural laxative. Drinking some pear juice along with eating some canned pears may be a good way to get relief. The fructose content along with the fiber is what makes this food effective. Unlike other laxative foods, pear juice and canned pears may be less irritating to the intestinal tract and much more gentle.

  • Figs

These fruits have laxative effects and are readily accepted by children for their sweetness. They work well both in their fresh or dry form. Four to five figs that have been soaked in the water overnight may be great for breakfast.

  • Water

Doctors recommend drinking 8 ounce glasses of water every day and this is great advice both for staying well hydrated and for preventing constipation. The ideal recipe therefore to prevent constipation is a good combination of fluids and fiber.

As seen when it comes to getting relief, nature has provided a great set of natural remedies. Laxatives, stool softeners and enemas may work at first, but they often make the intestinal tract lazy causing them to become gradually ineffective. Such medications should be taken only occasionally therefore, making natural foods the ideal choice.

Nature has provided us with numerous gifts, it is up to us to discover them and take advantage...

Disclaimer: the above natural laxative remedies are not guaranteed to work and may cause at times stomach cramping and the opposite effect of what is wanted. It is best to see your doctor should you become constipated for a proper assessment and proper diagnosis.


National Center for Health Statistics. Dietary Intake of Macronutrients, Micronutrients, and Other Dietary Constituents: United States, 1988–94. Vital and Health Statistics, Series 11, Number 245. July 2002.

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    • profile image


      12 months ago

      Agreed! Raisin Bran is loaded with sugar!

    • sriv profile image

      Parul Srivastava 

      3 years ago from Lucknow,India

      Good information on Laxatives !

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 

      8 years ago from Deep South, USA

      A word of warning to the unwary: Too much sorbitol can be equivalent to a terrible case of gastroenteritis. If you see that ingredient on a package of processed food, please take my advice and don't eat much of it. Jaye

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 

      8 years ago from Deep South, USA

      I had to chuckle reading about foods that relieve constipation! All one needs to do is become a vegan or vegetarian, and he or she will never have that problem!

      Also, speaking of foods that have a laxative effect, there is an ingredient in some processed foods--sorbitol (a sugar alcohol) that will take the place of any packaged laxative made! Just saying....


    • ljsomma profile image


      9 years ago

      coffee does the trick if you don't drink it that often!

    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

      10 years ago

      Thats a good question, I guess though if the University of Chicago recommends it as a moderate source of fiber it should be good.

    • ocbill profile image


      10 years ago from hopefully somewhere peaceful and nice

      I could be wrong but the raisin bran cereal by Post or Kelloggs is filled with sugar & other unpronounceable words. Wouldn't that cancel out any benefits?


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