According to Melodie Anne Coffman for SFGate, many foods function as natural stool softeners due to their high soluble or insoluble fiber content, such as corn, green beans, spinach, plums, cherries and apples. Ground flaxseed is exceptionally high in fiber and helps a great deal in keeping stools malleable, as do wholegrain foods such as wheat bran, quinoa, popcorn and wild rice.
In addition to dietary fiber sources, MedicineNet explains that many over-the-counter laxatives are derived from natural bulk-forming ingredients, such as psyllium husk, agar, plant gum and kelp. These are especially beneficial because they do not leave the intestinal tract to be absorbed into the body, which makes them ideal for people who must frequently rely on laxatives to maintain proper bowel functioning, such as elderly patients.
Due to the expansion that occurs in the digestive system when a person takes bulk-forming laxatives, MedicineNet warns patients with narrow passageways to avoid this type of stool softener. Likewise, it is crucial to ingest a bulk-forming laxative with at least 8 ounces of water to ensure the treatment does not become lodged in the body or leach moisture from the intestines. There is a belief that drinking adequate amounts of water alone keeps the body hydrated so that bowel movements do not become difficult to pass, but MedicineNet says there is no scientific evidence to support this claim.Learn More
Magnesium citrate is used to treat constipation, according to Drugs.com, and though ingesting it can induce temporary weight loss, laxatives are not an effective long-term weight loss solution. As noted by the National Eating Disorders Association, magnesium citrate rids the user of indigestible fiber and waste along with water in large intestine. Also known as "water weight," this weight is restored to the body as soon as water or other fluids are ingested again.Full Answer >
Bitter melon extract is a natural substance used to treat several digestive and metabolic disorders, according to WebMD. The extract, which is used to manufacture medicine, comes from the fruit and seeds of a plant and contains a chemical that functions like insulin to help regulate blood sugar levels.Full Answer >
While specific vitamins and minerals do not cause muscle cramps, a deficiency in potassium or magnesium can lead to sports-related leg cramping, according to Everyday Health. Additionally, a deficiency in vitamins E, A, and B causes cramping due to reduced circulation, as explained WeightTraining.com.Full Answer >
Fish oil and flax seed oil may help with heart problems, according to WebMD. Borage oil can also be used to treat both arthritic and skin problems.Full Answer >