The Best Fruit for Chronic Constipation — Hint, It’s Not Prunes
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Kiwi is a wonder fruit for naturally tackling the tough, often painful, chronic constipation afflicting so many people worldwide
Chronic constipation can be caused by many reasons. The good news is nature has many gifts in store to effectively address this uncomfortable, even painful, condition.
Prunes are the first fruit many think of when it comes to relieving constipation, and they do work for this purpose. Subjects who consumed 2 ounces (50 grams) of prunes every day for three weeks reported better stool consistency and frequency compared with the psyllium group.[i]
It’s worth being careful, though, about consuming too many prunes. It may lead to unwanted effects such as diarrhea, and the sugars can add up if you’re consuming prune juice for the bowel benefits. Fortunately, there may be an even better option when it comes to fruit for constipation relief — kiwi, also known as Chinese gooseberry, which originated as a wild plant in China.
Regular consumption of kiwi has been linked to digestive, immune and metabolic health advantages.[ii] The fruit is exceptionally high in vitamin C and offers dietary fiber, potassium, vitamin E and folate along with different bioactive compounds ranging from antioxidants to enzymes.
Face Off With Prunes and Psyllium
A number of Asian studies have already suggested kiwi’s potential against chronic constipation. A partially randomized trial also evaluated the fruit along with psyllium and prunes in U.S. patients with the condition.[iii]
The subjects were assigned to consume green kiwi, prunes or psyllium for four weeks. The researchers looked at their complete spontaneous bowel movements as well as daily stool frequency, stool consistency and straining.
Based on the results from 79 patients, the number of complete spontaneous bowel movements was similar among the treatments. At treatment weeks three and four, however, stool consistency significantly improved with kiwi and prunes, while straining substantially improved with all three treatments. Subjects assigned to the kiwi group reported significant improvement in bloating.
By the end of the treatment period, kiwi was also associated with the lowest rates of adverse events — most commonly reported with psyllium — and patient dissatisfaction with therapy.
Working Against Constipation, Other Common Ailments
Other studies support kiwi’s benefits against constipation:
- Increased dietary fiber intake through kiwi was effective in relieving chronic constipation in a Chinese population.[iv]
- Daily consumption of three gold-fleshed kiwi led to a significant increase of two additional complete spontaneous bowel movements per week as well as reduced gastrointestinal discomfort in mildly constipated adults.[v]
- Green kiwi extract significantly increased normal bowel movements without side effects, as well as relieved symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) such as bloating, flatulence and abdominal pain.[vi]
Separate research also probed the possible effects of golden kiwi on body composition, lipid metabolism and inflammation. Results showed that the fruit may reduce body fat mass, improve blood pressure and regulate inflammatory responses among overweight and obese young adults.[vii] Even with common sleep woes, kiwi appeared to be of help.
Consuming the fruit, two pieces of which were given to 24 subjects aged 20 to 55 years an hour before bedtime for four weeks, may improve sleep onset, duration and efficiency in adults who reported sleep disturbances.[viii] Further investigation of kiwi’s sleep-promoting properties may be warranted, the researchers noted.
In general, kiwi’s high vitamin C content influences its position as a nutritious, immune-boosting fruit.[x] As a natural, whole food, it’s ideal for nutrient release and delivery to various places along the digestive tract and elsewhere in the body.
Other natural strategies against constipation can also be explored, from proper hydration to high-fiber foods to probiotics. Fruits themselves offer a plethora of healing properties through the copious quantities of key vitamins and phytocompounds they contain. Learn more about the standout health benefits of kiwi in the GreenMedInfo.com database.
References [i] Attaluri A et al “Randomised clinical trial: dried plums (prunes) vs. psyllium for constipation” Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2011 Apr;33(7):822-8. Epub 2011 Feb 15. [ii] Richardson D et al “The nutritional and health attributes of kiwifruit: a review” Eur J Nutr. 2018; 57(8): 2659-2676. Epub 2018 Feb 22. [iii] Chey S et al “Exploratory Comparative Effectiveness Trial of Green Kiwifruit, Psyllium, or Prunes in US Patients With Chronic Constipation” Am J Gastroenterol. 2021 Jun 1;116(6):1304-1312. [iv] Chan A et al “Increasing dietary fiber intake in terms of kiwifruit improves constipation in Chinese patient” Eur J Pharmacol. 2008 Jun 10;587(1-3):273-80. Epub 2008 Apr 4. [v] Eady S et al “The effect of ‘Zesy002’ kiwifruit (var.) on gut health function: a randomised cross-over clinical trial” J Nutr Sci. 2019 ;8:e18. Epub 2019 May 3. [vi] Weir I et al “Efficacy of actinidin-containing kiwifruit extract Zyactinase on constipation: a randomised double-blinded placebo-controlled clinical trial” Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2018 ;27(3):564-571. [vii] Yang H et al “Beneficial Effects of Golden Kiwifruit Consumption in Overweight and Obese Young Adults” J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 2020 ;66(Supplement):S356-S360. [viii] Lin H et al “Effect of kiwifruit consumption on sleep quality in adults with sleep problems” Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2011 ;20(2):169-74. [ix] Graziani F et al “The effect of twice daily kiwifruit consumption on periodontal and systemic conditions before and after treatment: A randomized clinical trial” J Periodontol. 2018 Mar ;89(3):285-293. Epub 2018 Feb 27. [x] Richardson D et al “The nutritional and health attributes of kiwifruit: a review” Eur J Nutr. 2018; 57(8): 2659-2676. Epub 2018 Feb 22.
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