Kefir is a fermented milk product. It contains probiotics, a type of beneficial gut bacteria with a variety of health benefits, including improving immune function and boosting digestive health. This isn’t the only positive as they also come in different flavors! Consuming probiotics through either food or supplements can increase regularity while also improving stool consistency and speeding up intestinal transit. Kefir, in particular, has been shown to add moisture and bulk to stool. A 2014 study looked at the effects of kefir on 20 participants with constipation and after consuming 17 ounces (500 ml) per day for four weeks, participants had an increase in stool frequency, improvements in consistency and a decrease in laxative use.
6. Castor Oil
Produced from castor beans, castor oil has a long history of use as a natural laxative. After castor oil is consumed, it releases ricinoleic acid, a type of unsaturated fatty acid that’s responsible for its laxative effect. Ricinoleic acid works by activating a specific receptor in the digestive tract that increases the movement of the intestinal muscles to induce a bowel movement. One study showed that castor oil was able to alleviate constipation symptoms by softening stool consistency, reducing straining during defecation and decreasing the feeling of incomplete evacuation.
7. Leafy Greens
Leafy greens like spinach, kale and cabbage work in a few different ways to improve regularity and prevent constipation. First, they are very nutrient-dense, meaning they provide a good amount of vitamins, minerals, and fiber with relatively few calories. Each cup (67 grams) of kale, for example, provides 1.3 grams of fiber to help increase regularity and only has about 33 calories. Leafy greens are also rich in magnesium. This is the main ingredient in many types of laxatives since it helps draw water into the intestines to help pass stools. Some studies have shown that low intake of magnesium could be associated with constipation, so ensuring adequate intake is crucial for maintaining regularity.
Kiwi or kiwifruit has been shown to have laxative properties, making it a convenient way to ease constipation. This is mostly due to its high fiber content. A cup (177 grams) of kiwifruit contains 5.3 grams of fiber, covering up to 21% of the recommended daily intake. Kiwi contains a mix of both insoluble and soluble fiber. It also contains pectin, which has been shown to have a natural laxative effect. It works by increasing the movement of the digestive tract to stimulate a bowel movement. One four-week study looked at the effects of kiwifruit on both constipated and healthy participants. It found that using kiwifruit as a natural laxative helped alleviate constipation by speeding up transit time in the gut.
Apples are high in fiber, providing 3 grams of fiber per cup (125 grams), plus, they’re full of pectin that acts as a laxative. Studies show that pectin was able to speed up transit time in the colon. It also acted as a prebiotic by increasing the number of beneficial bacteria in the gut to promote digestive health. Another study gave rats apple fiber for two weeks before administering morphine to cause constipation. They found that the apple fiber prevented constipation by stimulating movement in the digestive tract and increasing stool frequency.
10. Olive Oil
Consuming olive oil is an effective way to alleviate constipation because it functions as a lubricant laxative, providing a coating in the rectum that allows for easier passage, while also stimulating the small intestine to speed up transit. In studies, olive oil has been shown to work well in both spurring bowel movements and improving the symptoms of constipation.