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Foods with a laxative effect

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I'd like to get and stay more 'regular' and would like to know what foods I can have that will have a strong laxative effect. I know that cabbage is a good one. What are some others, based on your personal experience? I assume fibrous vegetables in general, but would like to know what specifically are especially good. I also wonder if popcorn works well or not?

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  1. Lots of nice 'n greasy fried foods...yum... Slip 'n slide. Ok, Ok I know in bad taste but...

    1 Reply
    1. re: The Rogue

      The great philosopher Red Green once advised that to avoid arthritis and other joint ills, you should eat bacon, butter, and so on. And lots of them. All that grease is bound to keep the joints lubricated. :-)

    2. Popcorn would be lousy.
      Try beets, or cauliflower, or senna tea, or flax (in cereal) or sprouted garbanzos, or ginger or papaya or lentils...you want things with high fiber, preferably insoluble. This should be listed on most food nutrition labels. Also, drink LOTS of water.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Joseph

        Beets always work for me, and the evidence is always there - can't miss the "bleeding" dyes.

      2. popcorn is good if you want to get nice and gassy.

        1 Reply
        1. re: poot

          There was that infamous Christmas a few years back of the giant tubs of popcorn given to each family group by a well-meaning aunt. She still gives the tubs of popcorn. Yummy it might be, but beware!

        2. It has been my experience that prunes achieve the outcome you're looking for rather promptly... and rather repeatedly. :O

          1 Reply
          1. re: Stoolio

            Gosh, this reminds me of my parents who ate stewed prunes so they would stay "regular". They loved eating them too!

          2. Mix some Fiber One cereal into your regular cereal in the morning.

            1. Scandinavian crispbreads like Ryvita dark rye are loaded with whole-grain fiber.

              As for fruits and vegetables, you might be suprised at the fiber content of things. There are lots of fruits and vegetables that might seem to be fibrous that do not actually have a lot of fiber. And vice-versa. So research, don't assume.

              1. Pears. Raw pears. It can be rather alarming. Also, dried fruits, especially prunes and apricots. I'm talking about an actual laxative effect, not just bulking up stools with fiber.

                1 Reply
                1. re: GG Mora

                  I'll second GG on the pears. Try pear juice, too. Works like a charm.

                2. If you eat more than about 12 macadamia nuts at one time it can have the result that you're looking for. It must be their high oil content...

                  1. There is a big difference between a laxative and regularity. You do seem to be on the right track with the fiber though. I have IBS, and I take extra fiber, I am supposed to limit my intake of fruits, and drinking plenty of water is essential.

                    1. Its not exactly the healthy alternative but lots of coffee. Especially black!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Becca Porter

                        Second this.. I cant have a single cup without the effect.

                        1. re: RKN

                          Yes, spinach. I can't stand it raw, but I eat a lot of steamed or sauteed spinach with garlic.

                          1. re: valerie

                            And I also mix the spinach with fresh chopped tomatoes. Tastes good and works great!

                        2. Apples. My father swears by that saying, "an apple a day keeps the doctor away." Except he eats at least 3 a day. And it never worked for me, keeping the doctor away, since both my parents are doctors, which really annoyed me as a kid, sometimes. I always felt deceived by that saying.

                          It's not exactly a laxative effect, but rather keeps you regular. My father's also opined at length on the consequences if he doesn't have his daily apples. Eeew.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: jacinthe

                            Apples and apple juice will definitly do the trick. Ask anyone who is trying to make weight to wrestle.

                            1. re: swingline

                              Eat one Granny Smith apple with a glass of lemon juice (Lemonade without sugar) first thing in the morning. Just make sure you don't plan any long trips right after....

                          2. pineapple and/or pineapple juice - i always keep some in my pantry =)

                            1. dried figs will zip right through you! I'm not sure if Fig Newtons do the same....

                              1. All-Bran cereal (you'll get to like it after a while)
                                Concord grapes (for me, work better than other varieties for some reason)

                                1. I find that if I eat a couple of handfuls of cherry or grape tomatoes, or a few roma tomatoes sliced up that they tend to go right through me.

                                  1. oatmeal. I like instant oatmeal and add honey and raisins. Dried plums (prunes) work great too. Prune juice.

                                    1. Beets. Spinach. I love them both but I've got to be careful because they go right through.

                                      1. Definately a nice, big latte. Also I found out the hard way that sugar-free gummie bears do the trick all too painfully well. Avoid these.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: JJ Boxer

                                          It's the sorbitol. Sugar-free candy has sorbitol in it for moisture-stabilizing effect and sweetness, but eating too much of it produces a pretty uncomfortable laxative effect.

                                        2. Raisin Bran cereal is extremely high in fiber. Have a small bowl.

                                          1. Regularity (as opposed to actual laxative effect) is greatly aided by drinking enough water, as others have noted. That means 8 x 8oz glasses per day (2 quarts).

                                            3 Replies
                                              1. re: Perumexican

                                                Peru, surely you mean the part about the "8x8oz per day" is a myth but not the part about staying well enough hydrated each day to help regularity? Just gently saying, I've read and have been told that drinking plenty of water each day DOES help one stay regular ("plenty" being a variable from person to person)

                                                1. re: Val

                                                  Yes, of course. That's what the link refers to. There was a Men's Health article about this way back as well. It's really one of those sayings that has never been backed up in peer-reviewed literature, but that is often repeated even by doctors.

                                            1. Fiber One cereal is POTENT!! Use with caution ;-)
                                              Then again, there's Colon Blow:

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: monavano

                                                Lol, I remember in the Army if you did not wash your mess kit really well, it was a wonderful laxitive, just not when you wanted it!

                                                1. re: vegasmike

                                                  This was also called the G.I.'s, the Hot Trots, or the flamin a 's

                                              2. coffee and a (politically incorrect) cigarette.....

                                                1. I'm surprised no one mentioned rhubarb. I love it in desserts, but always apprehensive about using it :P

                                                  1. A large gin before bedtime.
                                                    I have no idea why!

                                                        1. re: C. Hamster

                                                          Have you ever suffered ill effects from escolar?

                                                          As far as sunchokes, they are big gastric gas producers but haven't seen or heard of them having a laxative effect

                                                          1. re: scubadoo97

                                                            Ugh, I can't think escolar promotes 'regularity' as much as 'explosivity'

                                                            1. re: ette

                                                              I was just kinda wondering what the incident rate was. I've eaten it many times and never had a problem

                                                            2. re: scubadoo97

                                                              Re: escolar. Not personally, but I know people who have had the foul oily orange discharge it can cause.

                                                              Re: Sunchokes. OMG. I had gas for three days but my partner could not leave the house for 48 hours due to terrible diarrhea.

                                                              1. re: C. Hamster

                                                                That must be why it's also called orange roughy, lol.

                                                                1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                  Re: escolar

                                                                  Internet search for 'wax ester'

                                                                  Most people don't know about this until it happens to them, and due to that sudden discovery it's almost always learned the hard way - at work, in a business meeting, etc.

                                                              2. One word - Escolar, aka Oil Cod, Snake Mackerel, White Tuna, and some other names. It tastes lovely, BUT - stay close to the WC.


                                                                [Edit] Teach me to NOT read all replies. C.Hamster beat me to it. Did not see that reply, until mine posted. Let me second Escolar.

                                                                For Scubadoo97,

                                                                I have, and so has my young wife.

                                                                1. I'm not sure if it counts as a food, but for some people the artificial sweetener has a strong laxative effect. But it's strong enough I wouldn't recommend it.

                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                  1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                                                                    it's not all artificial sweeteners, just sugar alcohols. sorbitol & mannitol are the worst offenders.

                                                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                      You are right on there, got ahold of some sorbitol real cheap once, never again, had to change the bed. Bad, bad, bad.

                                                                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                        I've had the worst problems with Xylitol. I don't think I"ve seen in much in the west, but in Asia it's standard in sugar free candies and gums. I now know the names of various sweeteners in Chinese, in order to buy gum and cough candy that won't give me the runs.

                                                                      2. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                                                                        Ugh, be careful with that stuff. Several years ago I was trying to be "healthy" by avoiding sugar and ate a small box of those sugar free valentine hearts(similar to necco). Put it this way, I had to leave work and felt awful for the rest of the day. I've never touched sugar-free candy again and if I were to become diabetic or something I would give up sweets before consuming the stuff.

                                                                      3. Just was reminded yesterday of the laxative effect of cherries. My daughter at least a cup and probably more like two of fresh cherries yesterday. Oh boy.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: jlhinwa

                                                                          Dried cherries work very well. A tasty something to keep around for this purpose if one doesn't like dried apricots or prunes.

                                                                        2. Depends on what you mean by "regular." My first eating tutor swore by prune juice and herring.

                                                                          1. Black jelly beans
                                                                            Black licorice

                                                                            My moms girlfriend and her husband were on a diet to eat perfect foods only and avoided all and any fat in their diets. Oh they were thin alright but their faces appeared gaunt and dried up like prunes and their real problems mom heard way too much about, bathroom problems.

                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                            1. re: iL Divo

                                                                              There are a LOT of things I eat that could be described in a general manner as "laxative", but most of then I would not reccoment, as in my book, diahrrea does not count as "regularity" and a good laxative shoud be one that makes you go PAINLESSLY (no gas, no stomach cramps, no movements so acidic they burn your asshole till it bleeds.)
                                                                              On the more moderate (and frankly less repulsive) side, there is a Eastern European (Slovenia, I belive) called Donat. When I encountered a bottle and bought it the woman in the store warned me that, due to the mineral balance, it basically was the natural equivalent of the stuff that you doctor gives you to drink the day before a colonoscopy. It did not affect me so, but I only had a tiny sip of it (didn't like the flavor).

                                                                              1. re: jumpingmonk


                                                                                I have no idea what you're talking about.
                                                                                the question is what makes you more regular............
                                                                                my answer is above

                                                                                1. re: jumpingmonk

                                                                                  A Slovene doctor actually told me to drink a bottle of Donat mineral water for the problem. I did that and it worked beautifully. It's a little salty. Also, Slovenia's very famous Radenska is a little less effective, but that also works.

                                                                                  1. re: shoo bee doo

                                                                                    I never noticed the saltiness (probably becuse I am used to waters like Borjomi and Nablegavi) I just found it a bit too bitter for my taste

                                                                              2. ALOE JUICE DRINKS! whoa.. those things should come with a warning!

                                                                                1. it depends on whether you want to be more regular, or if you want the laxative effect. diets high in fiber won't necessarily make you go more often, but will provide regularity. try high-fiber cereals, brown rice, apples, beans, and many vegetables.

                                                                                  1. If you're not feeling constipated you'll poop when you poop. Stop stressing out over it.

                                                                                    1. Tamarind juice - didn't know then - now I do. Had that in Saigon. Tasted so good chilled, I had a second then a third glass. Had me scrambling before the Mekong burst :-(

                                                                                      1. Increase consumption of whole grains
                                                                                        Increase consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables in a form most palatable to you. Dried fruits work too
                                                                                        Maintain hydration, fluid moves things along through the body.
                                                                                        Probiotics (something like Yakult, tastes like lemon yogurt, used regularly it will keep you regular)

                                                                                        7 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                          Took the words right out of my mouth. :)
                                                                                          You sound like a dietitian. Are you?

                                                                                          1. re: Arynnah

                                                                                            No, I am not a dietitian, but I do have a Bachelor's degree in Food & Nutrition. I've spent 30+ years in the non-commerical food service industry

                                                                                          2. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                            Yes, this is how to stay regular. Eating a balance of soluble and insoluble fiber, plus getting enough liquid and exercise does the trick.

                                                                                            I am convinced that many of the modern bowel ailments (IBS, constipation) would be greatly reduced if people were able to consume a better balance of fibers and fluids, and exercised more.

                                                                                              1. re: Isolda

                                                                                                i agree with you for the most part, but some people really do have ibs/constipation issues that they can do nothing about. i run between 5-7 miles each day, and go to the gym about 4 times a week. i eat a high-fiber, low-fat diet with tons of fruits and vegetables, and there is nothing i can do about my irritable stomach... i have learned to avoid cheeses, onions, and other foods that "set me off."

                                                                                                1. re: jamieeats

                                                                                                  People have no idea what IBS can do to a person.

                                                                                                  1. re: mrbigshotno.1

                                                                                                    Amen to that No. 1.
                                                                                                    When I was diagnosed with IBS about five years ago my reaction to the doctor was something like; "Just IBS! That's all?!"
                                                                                                    I had been having visions of flesh eating bacteria dismantling my insides. Or something equally grotesque.
                                                                                                    After a short adjustment period I learned to just eat as properly as I can and hope for the best.

                                                                                            1. a boatload of dried apricots


                                                                                              those deliciously scented flavored prunes that come in those little tiny packages

                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                Okra, fenugreek seeds, chia seeds or flax seeds, soaked in water until they gel. I find all legumes keep me moving. One of the more extreme reactions I've had is to dandelion greens and melokhia, which is a dish made with mallow leaves. They are seriously mucilaginous and float suspended in their own gel when stewed with a whole chicken, lots of lemon, garlic and spices. For me, a lot of chiles will do the trick. Barley is also good for a cleanout. My best recommendation is to make a hearty bean soup with barley, kale, onions and a whole lot of garlic. That should do it. Or, make a homemade onion soup with every member of the onion family you can get your hands on. I once made a vegan version with red onions, shallots, leeks, Spanish onions, scallions and garlic, in a miso broth. It was sensational, but I suffered the effects for a while after.

                                                                                                Some odd options: cantaloupe seeds ground and mixed with water or melon juice. Also, papaya seeds swallowed whole have a slimy quality and will pass through whole, but carry a lot of other waste with them.

                                                                                                Bottom line: DiningDiva summed it up nicely. If you're eating a variety of grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, plus taking in plenty of fluids, you'd have a hard time being anything other than clockwork regular, especially keeping your insides humming with probiotics.

                                                                                                1. re: 1sweetpea

                                                                                                  A coworker introduced me to chia seeds suspended in water- it's miraculous stuff. I now keep a Maker's Mark bottle of it in the fridge both at work and at home, if i feel hungry I'll drink several glugs of it and it takes the edge off my hunger. And the 'end result' is, for lack of a term that's more specific but still polite, perfect.
                                                                                                  No gas or bloating, either. I've actually developed a taste for it.

                                                                                              2. This works every time for me, unfortunately. Drink a big glass of V8 juice with a couple of pickles, followed by an energy drink (Red Bull, Rockstar, etc.). This combo I discovered will have me running to the bathroom within a few minutes (and the results aint pretty).

                                                                                                1. (Fan fair).......FIG NEWTONS! Available year round. And yummy. And the seeds will make you floss so your dentist will love you.

                                                                                                  1. Holy God- my mother once ate a whole bunch of "sugar-free" chocolate on our way home from picking me up on college break to go home. ( She is a diabetic who is loathe to refuse herself anything she "really wants".) Anyway, I can't tell you about the atrociousness and the number of rest-stop breaks we had to make for her on the way home!!!!!!!!

                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: MRS

                                                                                                      Reduced fat Oreos have a similar effect for me....

                                                                                                      These "artificial" replacement ingredients are killer on the body

                                                                                                      1. re: MRS

                                                                                                        MRS: I'm howling. The same thing happened to my mother and I when we discovered a "sugar free" taffy at a tourist trap in Keystone, SD. It tasted so divine, that we split a small bag (about 9 pieces each). We had to make copious stops to any bathroom we could find on the short 20 min. ride back to Rapid City. The key ingredient was Malitol. My dad sure had a good laugh.

                                                                                                        1. re: natewrites

                                                                                                          SO AWFUL!!!!! It was like a scene out of a movie. I have never let her forget it!

                                                                                                        2. re: MRS

                                                                                                          I was lucky enough to experience this after reciving an economy pack of my favorite sugar-free gum for Christmas my sophomore year of high school. I saved them so I could bring them to school. Long story short, my friends and I had a lunch of gum and Dr. Pepper then went to our various classes. We all saw eachother in passing all afternoon, on our way to or from the bathroom. Misery loving company and all that, I suppose it could have been worse.

                                                                                                        3. A big bowl of oatmeal with a couple of strong cups of coffee, followed by a smoke will sort me out within an hour....

                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                          1. re: deet13

                                                                                                            yeah coffee works; just an excuse to tell you what an awesome avatar you have...

                                                                                                          2. oh yeah coffee and Grape Nuts cereal...

                                                                                                              1. re: letsindulge

                                                                                                                Mangos do it for (to) me. Prune juicve is sooo good, buit onew LITTLE cup and ...

                                                                                                              2. my mother in law's food.

                                                                                                                coffee, sweet potato, bagel.

                                                                                                                  1. dried fruit in large quantities

                                                                                                                    1. I'm very regular and don't ever need a laxative, but I do notice that when I add corn on the cob in the summer, it moves things along even more quickly.

                                                                                                                      1. there's a new Nature's Path Cereal...


                                                                                                                        13 grams of fiber per 2/3 cup serving and no nasty chemicals