Do Prunes Help Constipation? Here's What Researchers Say
- Prunes are a a natural laxative that have been used for centuries to treat constipation and other digestive issues.
- Prunes have been found to be more effective than psyllium in relieving constipation (1).
- Adults who consumed prunes daily for three weeks experienced improved bowel function and more frequent stools (2).
Millions of people around the world struggle with the frustrating and uncomfortable condition of constipation. While there are many treatments available, prunes have recently received a lot of attention. Yes, those wrinkled little fruits that are frequently connected to gastrointestinal issues and the elderly. Do prunes, however, actually relieve constipation? In that case, how? In this article, we'll examine the research on prunes and constipation in more detail. We'll look at prunes' health advantages, their mechanism of constipation relief, and what experts have to say about their efficacy. So if you're experiencing constipation and seeking a natural remedy, keep reading to see if prunes could be the solution you've been looking for.
What are prunes?
Prunes are dried plums that are packed with antioxidants and fiber. They are a well-liked snack and an ingredient in many recipes because of their sweet, fruity flavor and sticky, chewy texture. Prunes are also a good source of iron, potassium, vitamin A, and other vitamins and minerals. They have been used for centuries to treat constipation and other digestive issues because they are a natural laxative.
Nutritional value of prunes
Prunes are a nutrient-rich food that offer a variety of health advantages. They are an excellent choice for weight management and digestive health because they are low in calories and high in fiber. About 4-5 prunes make up one serving, which has about 100 calories, 3 grams of fiber, and 293 milligrams of potassium. Prunes are also a good source of antioxidants, which defend the body from the harm caused by free radicals.
Prunes' high fiber content is especially good for the digestive system. Fiber promotes regular bowel movements and thickens stool. Additionally, it aids in feeding the good bacteria in the gut, which can enhance digestion as a whole. Prunes also contain potassium, which aids in maintaining the body's fluid balance and guards against dehydration, which can lead to constipation.
Studies on prunes and constipation
The effectiveness of prunes for constipation has been the subject of numerous studies. Prunes outperformed psyllium, a popular fiber supplement, in one study that was published in Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics for its ability to relieve constipation. Participants in the study were given a random assignment to eat either psyllium or prunes for three weeks. The findings demonstrated that compared to the psyllium group, the prune group had significantly more bowel movements per week and softer stools (1).
In another study, which was reported in the British Journal of Nutrition, healthy adults who consumed prunes daily for three weeks experienced improved bowel function and more frequent stools. 120 participants were involved in the study, and they were given the option to eat prunes or a placebo for four weeks at random. The findings revealed that the prune group had significantly softer stools and more bowel movements per week than the placebo group (2).
Prunes were found to be a secure and efficient treatment for constipation in older adults, according to a review of six studies on the subject that was printed in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology. According to the review, prunes were superior to psyllium, lactulose, and other widely used laxatives (3).
Prunes vs. Other Remedies for Constipation
Although prunes have been shown to be a successful treatment for constipation, they are not the only option. Increasing fiber intake, consuming lots of water, and engaging in regular exercise are additional natural treatments for constipation.
One of the most popular treatments for constipation is increasing fiber consumption. Fiber gives stools bulk and keeps the digestive system functioning properly. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes are good sources of fiber. Constipation can be avoided by drinking plenty of water, which helps to soften stool and make it easier to pass.
Another key element in avoiding constipation is exercise. Regular exercise aids in maintaining a healthy digestive system and stimulating bowel movements. Constipation can be avoided with even a small amount of exercise, such as walking or yoga.
These treatments can be helpful, but some people might discover that they are insufficient to relieve their constipation. Prunes might be a useful addition to their routine in these situations.
How Much Should You Eat to Relieve Constipation?
Prunes are generally safe to eat, but you should only consume them occasionally. Consuming an excessive amount of prunes can cause diarrhea and other digestive issues. A serving of 2 to 4 prunes, or roughly 1/4 to 1/2 cup, should be consumed each day.
It's also important to remember that it might take a few days for the effects of prunes to manifest. Therefore, it's crucial to be patient and consistent with your intake if you're trying to relieve constipation. Prunes can improve bowel movements and ease constipation if consumed frequently over the course of a few days.
Other Health Benefits of Prunes
Prunes have a number of additional health advantages in addition to their laxative effects. They contain a lot of antioxidants, which aid in defending the body against the harm that free radicals can do. In addition, they are a good source of vitamins and minerals like iron, potassium, and vitamin A.
Prunes have also been demonstrated to strengthen bones. According to a study in the British Journal of Nutrition, postmenopausal women who consume prunes experience less bone thinning. 160 participants in the study were given a random assignment to receive prunes or a placebo for six months. When compared to the placebo group, the group receiving prunes had significantly higher bone mineral density at the end of the study.
Does Prune Juice Have Potassium?
An important mineral that is necessary for maintaining healthy bodily functions is potassium. It is crucial for maintaining a healthy balance of fluids in the body as well as for muscle contraction and nerve transmission. Prunes are one of many fruits and vegetables that are a good source of potassium.
Additionally a good source of potassium is prune juice. 700 mg of potassium are found in one cup of prune juice. This amounts to about 15% of the adult daily allowance.
Does Low Potassium Cause Constipation?
For maintaining normal bowel function, potassium is crucial. Constipation can be brought on by the body having low potassium levels. This is due to potassium's role in controlling digestive tract muscle contractions. Low potassium levels can cause the muscles of the digestive system to malfunction, which can cause constipation.
Making sure you consume enough potassium in your diet is crucial if you suffer from constipation. Fruits, vegetables, and dairy products are some excellent dietary sources of potassium.
Can Too Much Potassium Cause Constipation?
Constipation can result from low potassium levels, but too much potassium can also be harmful. This is due to the fact that diarrhea can result from high potassium levels in the body. This is due to potassium's role in maintaining the body's fluid balance. Diarrhea can result from the body trying to eliminate too much potassium when potassium levels are high.
It is crucial to discuss the right dosage and monitoring of your potassium levels with your doctor if you are taking potassium supplements or have a medical condition that affects your potassium levels.
Precautions and Risks of Eating Prunes
Prunes are generally safe to eat, but not everyone should consume them. Prunes may need to be avoided or consumed in moderation by people with certain medical conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). This is due to the fact that prunes may be high in FODMAPs, a type of carbohydrate that some people may find challenging to digest.
Additionally, it's critical to remember that prunes contain a lot of sugar and calories. Prunes can cause weight gain and other health issues if consumed in excess. Prunes should be consumed in moderation as part of a healthy diet.
1. Can potassium cause diarrhea and constipation?
Depending on how much is consumed, potassium can result in either diarrhea or constipation. Generally speaking, eating too much potassium can cause diarrhea, while eating too little potassium can cause constipation. It's crucial to remember that potassium is necessary for good health overall and should be consumed in moderation.
2. Are prunes high in potassium?
One serving of prunes (roughly five prunes) contains about 290 mg of potassium. This is significant because potassium is a crucial mineral that supports healthy muscle and nerve function as well as fluid balance in the body.
3. Can I eat prunes on an empty stomach?
Yes, prunes can indeed be consumed on an empty stomach. In fact, some individuals discover that consuming prunes first thing in the morning can support regular bowel movements all day long.
4. Do potassium supplements cause constipation?
Some people may experience constipation from potassium supplements, especially if they are taken in high doses. Before ingesting any potassium supplements, it's critical to follow the directions for dosage and consult your physician.
5. Can electrolytes help with constipation?
Potassium, magnesium, and sodium are electrolytes that are crucial for overall health and can encourage regular bowel movements. However, little is known about how they specifically affect constipation.
Prunes are a safe and effective natural treatment for constipation. They are rich in antioxidants, fiber, and potassium, all of which support healthy digestion and regular bowel movements. Prunes are more potent at relieving constipation than psyllium and other popular fiber supplements, according to studies. They are a fantastic option for those looking for a natural remedy to digestive issues because they are safe and well-tolerated. Consider including prunes in your diet to see if they can help with your constipation symptoms.
- Attaluri, A., Donahoe, R., Valestin, J., Brown, K., & Rao, S. S. C. (2011). Randomised clinical trial: dried plums (prunes) vs. psyllium for constipation. Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics, 33(7), 822–828. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2036.2011.04594.x https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21323688/
- Lever, E., Scott, S. M., Louis, P., Emery, P. W., & Whelan, K. (2019). The effect of prunes on stool output, gut transit time and gastrointestinal microbiota: A randomised controlled trial. Clinical Nutrition, 38(1), 165–173. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.clnu.2018.01.003 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29398337/
- De Giorgio, R., Ruggeri, E., Stanghellini, V., Eusebi, L. H., Bazzoli, F., & Chiarioni, G. (2015). Chronic constipation in the elderly: a primer for the gastroenterologist. BMC Gastroenterology, 15(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12876-015-0366-3 https://bmcgastroenterol.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12876-015-0366-3
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