While it may not be a topic fit for water cooler conversations, everyone has had some personal experience with constipation at one time or another. According an American Cancer Society study involving more than a million adults, 26 percent reported occasional constipation. A meta-analysis study based on more than 250 separate studies suggests that laxatives, both over-the-counter and prescription, had very little long-term effectiveness since the body can develop a tolerance to such medications over time. Foods with natural laxative properties, on the other hand, tend to provide added nutrients with little or no side effects.
All forms of broccoli are high in antioxidants that will benefit the digestive tract. However, broccoli sprouts tend to be more effective when it comes to getting things moving.
Anyone who has a fed an infant legumes knows the results that often follow a heaping helping of beans, peas and lentils. In addition to helping with digestion, legumes are also high in fiber and protein and low in cholesterol.
3. Nuts and Raw Seeds
Just about any type of nuts and raw seeds are high in protein and fiber to help keep everything moving in the right direction. This can include almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and even seeds in oil form such as flax seed oil.
For a sweet tasting way to promote efficient digestion, there’s nothing like a high fiber banana. A banana a day can restore electrolytes and encourage the growth of beneficial intestinal bacteria.
High in antioxidants, berries can naturally clean the colon to encourage effective digestion without frustrating slow downs along the way. All types of berries, from blueberries to raspberries, will serve the same purpose.
In addition to a significant amount of protein, apples also provide bulk to encourage proper bowel movement. Pectin in apples also acts as a firming agent. Apple juice has similar benefits.
Beets, especially in raw form or in juice form, contain an enzyme that speeds up the exit process. Beets should, however, be consumed in moderation to avoid cramping.
Well-known for their natural laxative properties, prunes achieve this goal through so-called super bacterias that work wonders in the digestive tract. All it takes is a few prunes a day to keep everything working smoothly.
All melons have a high water content that facilitates productive digestion with no stops along the way. In fact, a slice of water melon or cantaloupe will pass through the stomach and intestines rather quickly.
10. Aloe Vera
The many health benefits of aloe vera have been known to man for centuries. A combination of at least 75 identified nutrients, 18 amino acids, a dozen vitamins and a couple hundred active compounds makes aloe vera mixed with water or juice an effective digestive booster.
Rich in vitamins A, C and K, tomatoes can fulfill about ten percent of the RDA of daily fiber intake, a plus for the digestive tract. Certain antioxidants in tomatoes have been shown to help prevent colon and prostate cancers.
12. Raw Vegetables
Raw veggies like carrots, garlic and cauliflower work to keep the colon natural clean and healthy, thus promoting efficient elimination. Properties in carrots, in particular, stimulate bowel contractions while providing necessary bulk to stools.
13. Citrus Fruits
Lemons, oranges, limes and any other fruit in the citrus family will help with the elimination process. It’s mainly the vitamin C that acts as a natural detox to transform toxins in the digestive tracts into materials that can easily be passed through.
14. Coconut Water
In addition to improving digestive functions, coconut water can provide welcome relief from hemorrhoids and related irritations. While coconut water is certainly tasty, it should be consumed in moderation to avoid loose stools.
15. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Found in flax seed oil, olive oil, avocado oil and similar natural oils, omega-3s also act as natural laxatives. These oils work by literally lubricating the walls of the intestines to allow for smooth elimination.
Cabbage in all forms, including cabbage soup and sauerkraut, can help flush toxins from the digestive system. Cabbage also acts as a natural stool softener.
17. Apple Cider Vinegar
An alternative to raw apples daily is apple cider vinegar. Made from raw apples, this concoction naturally removes toxins from the entire body while adding live bacteria to the digestive tract to promote efficient digestion.
18. Cayenne Pepper
Cayenne pepper encourages the production of gastric juices and boost the flow of enzymes within the digestive tract. Adding Jalapenos and other spicy peppers to cooked foods, along with a dash or two of black pepper, can have similar benefits.
A touch of ginger can improve the overall productivity to the entire digestive system. Ginger tea is especially soothing without the harsh actions that sometimes occur with OTC or prescription laxatives.
While about 80 percent of the human body consists of water, most people don’t consume enough water throughout the day. About eight glasses of water a day can naturally assist the flow of things by softening the stool.