10 Best Laxative Foods for Constipation

Clinical review: Tatiana Zanin
Registered Dietitian
May 2022

​Foods that are rich in fiber, like papaya, plum, pumpkin, orange, oatmeal and chia seeds, have a laxative effect. They add bulk to the stool, making it a great way to relieve constipation. 

Many of these foods also have a great quantity of water, another element that is essential for easy passing of stools. You should aim to drink 1.5 to 2 L of water per day to stay hydrate and facilitate bowel movements. 

It is important to include laxative foods as part of a daily, balanced diet to help with bowel movements and to prevent episodes of constipation in the future.  

Some common foods that are natural laxatives you can eat to relieve constipation are: 

1. Papaya

100g of papaya contains 2g of fiber, as well as a great amount of magnesium, which is a mineral that aids in intestinal flow. Papayas are also rich in water, which is essential for constipation relief. 

How to eat: To maintain a varied and balanced diet, you should eat one slice to one half of papaya per day in its natural state. You can include it as part of your breakfast or as a snack. Papaya can also be incorporated into fruit salads or smoothies.

2. Oats

Oats are a grain that are rich in beta-glucans, a soluble fiber with probiotic functions. It also helps to feed the good bacteria in the gut, which helps to regulate intestinal flora and maintain normal intestinal function. 

How to eat: To relieve constipation, you should consume 1 tablespoon of oats per day. This can ne consumed as oatmeal or added to fruit or yogurt. 

3. Greek yogurt 

Greek yogurt is a probiotic food that contains healthy bacteria like Bifidobacteria e Lactobacillus. These bacteria help to keep the intestinal flora in balance to maintain optimal intestinal functioning. 

How to eat: It is important to look for yogurt in its most natural form - you should avoid products with food coloring, sugar or sweeteners. Yogurt can be eaten once per day with fruit, oatmeal or seeds at breakfast or as a snack. 

4. Plums

Because it is high in fiber, plums are a great way to relieve constipation naturally. Eating fresh plums also has the added bonus of water, which helps to soften and eliminate stools.

How to eat: Plums can be eaten in their fresh form (1 to 2 per day) or dehydrated without sugar (maximum 2 per day).  

5. Orange

Oranges are fruits with high amounts of water, which helps to soften the stool and facilitate intestinal flow. The pulp is rich in fiber, which adds bulk to the stool and helps relieve constipation. 

How to eat: To help relieve constipation, one full orange should be consumed with the pulp. It can be eaten after lunch or dinner. 

6. Pumpkin

Because it is rich in both fiber and water, pumpkin is important to add bulk and to moisten the stools, making them easier to pass. 

How to eat: Pumpkin can be baked or used in broths, soups, or salads. It should be combined with other laxative foods throughout the week. 

7. Seeds

Seeds like chia, flaxseed, sunflower and sesame seeds, contain great quantities of omega-3. This is a healthy fat that can help to lubricate the intestines, which helps with the elimination of stools. 

They also tend to be rich in fiber, which help add bulk and improve intestinal flow.

How to eat: The amount of seeds consumed per day can vary. You should aim for one tablespoon per day, added to salads, yogurts and fruit. 

8. Leafy greens 

Leafy greens, like spinach, chards, arugula, lettuce and kale are rich in fibers with laxative properties. They are great options for constipation relief, especially when eaten raw. These greens contain high amounts of water, which helps with stool movements. 

How to eat: Leafy greens can be eaten daily at lunch or dinner. Ideally, you should eat them raw whenever possible, in salads or in juices. Another way to consume leafy greens is by using them in stir-fries or soups. 

9. Legumes

Legumes, like beans, chickpeas, lupini beans, or lentils are rich in soluble fibers that promote the formation of stools and help to relieve constipation. In addition, legumes also contain great amounts of magnesium, a mineral that is important to stimulate intestinal flow.  

How to eat:  The recommended daily amount of legumes is 3 to 6 tablespoons per day. They can be added to broths, soups, or salads for lunch or dinner.

10. Whole grains

Natural whole grains, like whole grain rice, whole grain pasta or quinoa, have great amounts of insoluble fibers which help to increase stool volume and stimulate peristalsis to relieve constipation. 

How to eat: Whole grains, like whole grain rice, whole grain bread, quinoa or amaranth can be eaten daily for breakfast, lunch or dinner. 

Meal plan for constipation 

The following table demonstrates a 3-day meal plan with laxative foods that help relieve constipation: 

Meal

Day 1Day 2Day 3
Breakfast

1 cup of coffee with milk + 1 slice of whole grain bread + 2 slices of ricotta cheese + 1/2 papaya 

200 ml smoothie made with 2 tablespoons of chopped avocado + 1 tablespoon of oats + 1/2 tablespoon of chia seeds + 200ml of 1% or 2% milk 

1 cup of chamomile tea + 120g of Greek yogurt with 1 tablespoon of sunflower seeds + 1 pear 

Morning snack

3 dry plums + 5 cashews 

1 kiwi + 10 peanuts 

2 slices of smashed papaya with 2 teaspoons of chia seeds 

Lunch or dinner 

3 tablespoons of whole grain rice with broccoli + stewed chicken + 2 tablespoons of beans + 3 tablespoons of stewed pumpkin + 1 small plate of salad made with lettuce, arugula and spinach seasoned with 1 tablespoon of olive oil + 1 orange 

1 cup of whole grain pasta with homemade tomato sauce + 4 tablespoons of stewed spinach with 2 eggs + salad made with raw kale seasoned with 1 tablespoon of olive oil + 1 tangerine  

3 tablespoons of pumpkin puree + 1 medium slice of braised meat + 3 tablespoons of chickpea salad + 1 small plate of chards, arugula and lettuce seasoned with olive oil + 1 slice of papaya 

Afternoon snack

1 natural yogurt blended with 1 small slice of papaya, 1 tablespoon of honey and 1 tablespoon of flaxseed 

1 cup of coffee + 1 slice of whole grain bread with 1 scrambled egg + 6 grapes 

Smoothie made with 150 ml of oat milk and 2 dry plums 

This meal plan is merely an example and can vary with each person’s actual health status and food preferences. You should see a registered dietitian for a thorough evaluation and for a more personalized meal plan. 

In addition to laxative foods, you should also drink 1.5 to 2 L of water per day to moisten the stool and prevent constipation. 

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Atualizado por Tua Saude editing team, em May de 2022. Clinical review por Tatiana Zanin - Registered Dietitian, em May de 2022.

References

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Clinical review:
Tatiana Zanin
Registered Dietitian
Graduated in Clinical Nutrition in 2001 and has a Master’s in Clinical Nutrition. Licensed to practice under the CRN-3 in Brazil and the ON in Portugal