Many fruits and vegetables can help people poop. Different foods work in different ways. Some provide fiber, while others contain certain compounds that can stimulate bowel movements.
Read on to learn how juices help relieve constipation, which juices to try, and how to make them at home.
Can juices help with constipation?
Juices can contain fiber and sorbitol, which help regulate bowel movements.
Constipation occurs when a person has fewer than three bowel movements per week. Stool that remains in the digestive tract will harden over time, making it difficult and sometimes painful to pass.
In most cases of occasional constipation, making diet and lifestyle changes is very effective for relieving symptoms.
Taking over-the-counter (OTC) laxatives can help as a short-term solution, but they can cause unintended side effects, such as dehydration. People also run the risk of developing a physical dependence on laxatives.
Drinking certain juices may relieve constipation in some people. Some juices made from fruits and vegetables contain dietary fiber and sorbitol, both of which help regulate bowel movements.
Juices also contain large quantities of water, which may help soften hard stool while keeping the body hydrated.
The following sections explore the reasons why juices can help relieve constipation.
They provide fiber
Even though they are a liquid, some fresh juices often still contain dietary fiber, though not as much as if a person eats the fruit or vegetable raw.
The body does not digest fiber. Instead, fiber passes through the digestive system and helps keep the gut healthy. Diets high in dietary fiber promote healthy, regular bowel function.
The United States Department of Agriculture recommend that women eat at least 28 grams (g) of dietary fiber per day, and men 34 g per day. People who have constipation may need to eat more dietary fiber than people who do not.
However, increasing fiber intake without drinking enough fluids may worsen constipation, so try a gradual increase of fiber along with plenty of water.
Fruits and vegetables contain two types of dietary fiber, both of which encourage regular bowel movements and reduce constipation:
- Soluble fiber absorbs water and gives stools a softer, more flexible consistency, which makes them easier to pass. Sources of soluble fiber include oatmeal, beans, fruits, vegetables, psyllium, seeds, and nuts.
- Insoluble fiber does not absorb water. This type of fiber helps move waste materials through the bowels. Insoluble fiber also flushes bad bacteria from the gut. Sources of insoluble fiber include bran, whole wheat, rye, nuts, seeds, and fruit and vegetable skins.
People can increase the amount of fiber in a homemade juice by keeping the skin on apples when juicing, adding the pulp back into the juice, or adding high-fiber fruits, such as berries.
They contain sorbitol
Certain fruits contain sorbitol, a sugar alcohol that pulls water into the large intestine. Extra water in the gut helps loosen hard stools so that they can move through the digestive tract more easily.
Fruits that contain sorbitol include:
- fruits with pits, such as plums, peaches, and apricots
- dried fruit, including prunes and dates
Prunes are one of the richest fruit sources of sorbitol, so they may be one of the best options to help relieve constipation.
They contain water
Dehydration is a leading cause of constipation. The digestive system needs plenty of water to keep food waste moving through it. Otherwise, the stool can become hard, lumpy, and difficult to pass.
Drinking plenty of water and healthful juices can help relieve constipation in many cases.
The following fruit juices contain fiber, sorbitol, and water, and they can help relieve constipation.
1. Prune juice
Prunes are high in dietary fiber.
Prunes, or dried plums, are well-known for their laxative effects on the body.
A 2014 review study reported that eating 100 g of prunes per day improved how often people produced stool, as well as the consistency of the stool, compared with psyllium, which is a common OTC soluble fiber-containing laxative.
It is worth noting that the California Dried Plum Board funded this research.
Prunes are high in dietary fiber, but much of it is lost in the juice-making processes. Instead, prune juice acts as a laxative because it contains sorbitol, magnesium, and potassium, all of which improve bowel function.
Because prunes are dried and sealed, people can buy them online.
How to make prune juice
- 300 g prunes
- 2 liters of water
- Fill a pot with 2 liters of water. Add 300 g of prunes to the pot. Heat the pot over medium or high heat. Once boiling, reduce to low heat, cover with a lid, and simmer for about 2 minutes.
- Pour prunes and water into a blender and blend until smooth.
- If desired, pour the blended mixture through a sieve to remove the larger pieces.
- Pour prune juice into bottles and store in the refrigerator.
Make it an easy green smoothie
To add extra fiber to prune juice, and to boost the nutrient content, try adding spinach and cucumber to make a laxative smoothie.
- 2 cups raw spinach
- 1 cup prune juice
- 1 cup chopped cucumber
- Add all ingredients to a blender and combine until smooth.
- Add water to thin the smoothie if it is too thick.
2. Lemon juice
Mild dehydration can cause constipation. Increasing water intake may help relieve constipation. Drinking a mixture of lemon and water may help relieve constipation in some people.
People can add lemon juice to their diets and keep their bodies hydrated with lemon water. Use fresh, locally sourced lemons where possible.
How to make lemon water
To make lemon water, simply mix the juice of half a lemon into a glass of warm water. Try drinking this mixture at night and first thing in the morning.
Do not forget to drink water throughout the day.
3. Apple juice
Apple juice may help to relieve constipation.
Consuming apples may help relieve constipation because they are high in both dietary fiber and sorbitol.
Apples also contain pectin, which is a water-soluble fiber that may promote bowel movements.
Apple juice contains relatively high quantities of fructose compared with other fruits. Drinking large amounts of apple juice can cause digestive discomfort in people who have sensitive bowels.
Juicing apples also significantly reduces their fiber content, which may make apple juice less effective than other juices for constipation relief.
Use fresh, locally sourced, organic apples where possible.
How to make apple juice
People can juice apples whole and drink it, or they can add apple juice to other juices or smoothies. When making apple juice at home, consider leaving the skin on for extra fiber content. That said, only small amounts will remain after the juicing process.
Extra juice ingredients
When making juices at home or buying them in a supermarket, add or look out for the following ingredients to provide even more beneficial nutrients, add fiber, and boost constipation relief:
- psyllium seed
- ginger root
- apple cider vinegar
- coconut oil
How much juice should I drink for constipation relief?
People can either make juices at home or purchase them in stores.
To avoid experiencing adverse side effects, people should start by drinking small quantities of juice. Try a quarter or a half serving during the first few days.
People who can tolerate small amounts of juice can slowly increase their juice intake until they reach 1–2 servings per day. Guidelines often suggest that this is 4 ounces (oz) (half a cup) up to 8 oz (1 cup).
Increase dietary fiber slowly over a few days or weeks, as sudden increases can cause digestive discomfort and diarrhea and even worsen constipation.
When purchasing premade juices, try to get 100 percent fruit juices. Some fruit juices and fruit drinks contain fruit concentrate and lots of added sugar. These types of juices will not offer the same constipation relief as 100 percent fruit juice.
Other natural ways to relieve constipation
In addition to drinking fruit juices, people can find relief from constipation by making simple dietary and lifestyle changes.
Dietary and lifestyle changes that may help relieve constipation include:
- increasing fiber intake from solid foods
- eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables
- staying hydrated
- limiting processed food intake
- limiting daily salt intake
- increasing potassium intake
- exercising regularly
Drinking fruit juice can help relieve constipation. Some juices can contain low, moderate, or high amounts of dietary fiber, sorbitol, or other nutrients that support digestive health.
People can make dietary and lifestyle changes for even more constipation relief. Diets high in fiber and low in processed foods also help reduce constipation.
People should contact their healthcare provider if their constipation continues after making the dietary and lifestyle changes listed above.
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