Laxatives for constipation: You must know

Laxatives for constipation – The nature of the diet is one of the trigger mechanisms for the development of constipation. Therefore, their complex treatment always includes diet therapy , implying correction of the diet and the regimen of meals. In some cases, this makes it possible to normalize the stool without the use of laxatives or with their limited use . Which products have a laxative effect, and which ones should be discarded – about this in the article.


Nutrition as a cause of constipation

The effect of food on intestinal peristalsis and stool can be different, depending on the mechanical, thermal and chemical effects. Some products weaken – others, on the contrary, strengthen.  Chopped, fiber-poor food reduces intestinal motor activity and slows down the movement of feces. The low content of organic acids and salt leads to the reabsorption of fluid (from the intestine to the bloodstream) and hardening of the stool.

Abuse of the following foods contributes to stool retention 

  • Refined food products: products from premium flour, sweets, instant porridge.
  • Chopped and mashed dishes: soups-mashed potatoes, minced meat dishes containing a small amount of connective tissue, vegetable and fruit purees, jelly.
  • The predominant use of thermally processed and chopped vegetables and fruits instead of raw.
  • Fast-food, snacks, breakfast cereals, chips.
  • Strong tea, cocoa and chocolate.
  • Rare and plentiful meals, food “on the go”, overeating, frequent “snacks” .

What foods are laxatives for constipation?

Diet for constipation , first of all, provides for the inclusion in the diet of foods with a laxative effect – it is they that contribute to regular bowel movements .

Food ingredients that relieve stool

1. Vegetable fiber.

It is practically not digested in the intestine, while loosening the feces, increasing their volume, mechanically stimulating the motor activity of the large intestine, thereby speeding up and facilitating defecation

In addition, coarse plant fibers are a probiotic: they are used as a source of nutrition for “useful” intestinal microflora (bifidobacteria and lactobacilli) and contribute to its improvement . Given that the composition of the intestinal microflora affects intestinal motility , increasing the proportion of fiber in the diet can help alleviate constipation problems.

“Laxative” foods with a lot of coarse fiber

  • Vegetables and fruits in raw, boiled and baked form. From vegetables, greens and cabbage, cucumbers, carrots and beets, pumpkin, zucchini and onions are especially useful, from fruits – apples, pears, plums and bananas.
  • Bread and other products made from wholemeal flour, that is, made from unrefined cereal seeds. It is in the shell of cereals that fiber is contained.
  • “Rough” crumbly porridge made from pearl barley and buckwheat, oats (not to be confused with oatmeal), “millet”, bulgur, quinoa, etc.
  • Meat containing connective tissue fibers and skin.  Animal connective tissue, of course, does not belong to plant fiber, but it is also difficult to digest.
  • Dried fruits: prunes and dried apricots.

Important! It should be borne in mind that coarse fiber is contraindicated in acute inflammatory processes in the stomach and intestines, and also in case of spastic constipation with increased intestinal motility. Therefore, a doctor’s consultation is required for recurrent stool disorders.

2. Sugar substances

Sugar substances and products containing them (beet and cane sugar, honey, whole milk, jam, sweet fruits and juices from them) also have a laxative effect . The carbohydrates that are in their composition, due to their high molecular weight, attract a large amount of liquid into the intestine. In addition, under the influence of the intestinal microflora, they undergo fermentation, the products of which increase the secretion of water into the intestinal lumen. Due to this, the feces become more moist and soft . Of course, you shouldn’t abuse sweets, but giving it up – in view of the beneficial effect on the work of the gastrointestinal tract – is also not necessary.

3. Organic acids

Organic acids increase the secretion of fluid into the intestines, increase the moisture content in the feces, enhance peristalsis .

What “sour” foods are weakening?

First of all, these are :

  • kefir, and not fresh, but one or two days, containing a sufficient amount of lactic acid, yogurt, buttermilk, whey, kumis and other low-fat fermented milk products;
  • sour fruit and vegetable juices (tomato, rhubarb);
  • fruit drinks .

Important! Eating foods containing organic acids can lead to an increase in gastric acidity, which is dangerous for hyperacid gastritis (with high acidity), gastric ulcer and duodenal ulcer.

4. Salt

Herring, salted vegetables, corned beef, and caviar contain a large amount of sodium chloride and other salts. Salt attracts fluid to the intestines and helps to liquefy its contents .

Salt-containing products include mineral waters with a high salt content: for example, hydrocarbonate- sulphate waters containing up to 8 g of inorganic substances per 1 liter . 

5. Fat

Many foods contain fat, which makes it easier to move stool and bowel movements.

Fatty “laxative” foods include:

  • butter, cream, sour cream with a fat content of 27% and higher;
  • vegetable oils: sunflower, olive, corn, rapeseed;
  • fish oil and oily fish;
  • lard, fatty pork, lamb and other types of meat;
  • mayonnaise, fatty sauces and gravies .

6. Cold dishes

Irritation of the “cold” thermoreceptors of the oral cavity leads to a reflex contraction of the muscles of the gastrointestinal tract and increased peristalsis .

Similarly, “work”:

  • cold drinks,
  • cold soups (beetroot and okroshka),
  • ice cream and other cold desserts.

7. Carbonic acid (carbon dioxide)

Plain carbonated and mineral water, kumis contain carbonic acid. When bound, it quickly breaks down into water and carbon dioxide, forming many bubbles that excite peristalsis by stimulating receptors and increasing the volume of intestinal contents . Caution requires the use of “soda” for inflammatory diseases of the stomach and intestines .


  • Diet therapy for constipation involves not only the choice of “laxative” products, but also the use of a sufficient amount of liquid (2-2.5 liters per day) .
  • The diet should be balanced in composition and calorie content  .
  • Meals – frequent, at least 4 times a day , while breakfast should be denser than other meals .
  • In the morning on an empty stomach, it is useful to drink a glass of clean cool drinking or mineral water, freshly squeezed fruit and vegetable juice.
  • As a second breakfast, you need to eat fresh vegetables and fruits, before going to bed – kefir, yogurt or other low-fat fermented milk drink.
  • For constipation associated with a sedentary lifestyle, therapeutic exercises, swimming, massage and self-massage of the anterior abdominal wall are recommended.

Nutritional features for some types of constipation

Stool disturbance can be accompanied by a decrease and increase in the motor activity of the intestine, therefore, the choice of products that affect peristalsis should be differentiated .

With hypomotor (atonic) constipation , when intestinal motility is weakened, food should contain a large amount of fiber. It activates peristaltic movements, improves bowel tone and thereby normalizes stool.

Hypermotor, or spastic, constipation is characterized by increased bowel tone and associated abdominal pain.  Eating foods rich in difficult- to-digest fiber can overstimulate intestinal motility, exacerbate the situation and increase discomfort.

That is why, in the first 5-7 days of treatment, doctors recommend a gentle low-fiber diet for spastic constipation:

  • vegetables and fruits only in chopped form and after heat treatment,
  • flour products only from premium flour,
  • porridge only from processed crushed grains .

To restore normal bowel movements with spasms of the intestinal muscles, other products with a laxative effect are recommended :

  • vegetable oils,
  • salty and sweet dishes,
  • dairy products,
  • berry purees and juices with pulp,
  • highly mineralized mineral waters without gas.

Vegetable fiber is introduced into the diet gradually.

In parallel with diet therapy, if necessary, doctors prescribe laxatives . In particular, in case of acute and chronic constipation, laxatives  can be recommended for bowel emptying .

Laxatives  can take effect within 5-15 minutes . The sodium citrate contained in it displaces the bound fluid from the intestinal contents, sorbitol attracts water into the intestinal lumen, and sodium lauryl sulfoacetate additionally liquefies feces .  All this speeds up and facilitates bowel movements .

The high safety profile allows the drug to be used not only in adults, including pregnant women, but also in young children. In this case, it is not necessary to achieve a daily chair. A special diet should “teach” the intestines to empty themselves.

Dr. Ashwani Kumar is highly skilled and experienced in treating major and minor general medicine diseases.