Prune juice is an effective laxative that can be used to loosen bowels, according to the experts at WebMD. Prunes contain natural laxatives called sorbitol and dihydrophenylisatin, as well as a significant amount of fiber.
Fiber helps to relieve constipation because it softens stools, making them easier to pass, notes WebMD. The soluble fiber in dried plums may also lower cholesterol levels. The recommended daily dosage of fiber is between 20 and 35 grams. Some other foods that are rich in fiber include fruits, vegetables and beans. Whole-grain breads and cereals are also excellent fiber sources. Ground flax seed, water and dried plums may also help to relieve constipation. Prune juice is an ideal laxative because it is safe to use long-term, unlike castor oil.
Drinks that slow the passage of stool include soft drinks, coffee and alcoholic beverages, states WebMD. Although caffeine may stimulate the muscles required for a bowel movement, diuretics remove moisture from stools causing them to harden. Cookies, chips, white rice and other foods may also cause or worsen constipation. Some foods that are rich in fiber may cause diarrhea or gas in some people, so people with irritable bowel syndrome may want to write down how certain foods affect them. Exercising regularly promotes regular bowel movements.