by Jenn Savedge - Mother Nature Network
Have all of those end-of-year goodies left you feeling a little ... clogged up? You may be tempted to search for solutions in your medicine cabinet, but you'll be glad to know that there are better, more natural ways to relieve your constipation.
Check out these foods that act as natural laxatives:
1. Water. That's right, drinking plain old water is one of the best ways to soften stools and get things moving again. Aim to drink at least eight cups of water a day.
2. Coconut water. If plain water is too bland, try sipping on coconut water. It will keep your hydrated while helping to clean out your digestive system.
3. Apples or apple cider vinegar. The pectin in apples can help to stimulate your bowels. Try adding one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to a glass of water to reap the benefits. Better still, eat a whole apple, which also adds constipation-relieving fiber to your diet.
4. Aloe vera. You know that aloe vera is good for your skin, but did you also know that it contains compounds called anthraquinones that act as natural laxatives? Add a few drops of aloe vera gel to your water or look for aloe vera juice at your local health food store.
5. Chia and flaxseeds. Seeds from both chia and flax contain fiber that can help with digestion. Drink plenty of water when consuming them to help move things along.
6. Leafy greens. Leafy greens, such as kale, collards and spinach contain magnesium — a mineral that can help naturally soften stools.
7. Lemon. The citric acid in real lemon juice helps to stimulate the gut and cleanse the intestines. Add a few teaspoons to a glass of water to get some relief.
8. Coffee. That morning cup of java can do more than just perk you up. It can help perk up your digestive system too. Drink a cup in the morning but don't go overboard or you might get things moving just a little too quickly.
9. Baking soda. You know how baking soda can clean a counter or unclog a drain? It can work in the same way on the gunk in your gut. Add a teaspoon to a cup of warm water and drink quickly to get the best result.
10. Prunes. Prune juice has its reputation for good reason. Drink one glass a day to help relieve and prevent constipation.
Just as some foods act as natural laxatives, others can work to make your constipation worse and you may want to avoid them until you get some relief. Cut back on the dairy, red meat, processed foods, refined sugars and fried foods until your system is back on track.