The FoodMarble lunchroom can be a bit of a peculiar place. Whether it’s a chat about the Bristol Stool Scale or sharing tips on foods to keep you regular, we’re no strangers to discussions about bowel habits. Working in a digestive health startup will do that to a group! Joking aside, regular bowel movement is critical to our health and wellbeing. So here’s some recent findings about the benefits of kiwifruit for constipation!
The buzz around kiwifruit
About 35% of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) cases have constipation as a primary symptom, but many people struggle to find effective relief.
Doctors will often recommend more fibre, water and exercise, but sometimes this isn’t enough. In addition to these strategies, many patients end up taking stimulants or laxatives. These can come with side effects like diarrhea, bloody stools, bloating and abdominal discomfort.
In an effort to find other effective options for people suffering from constipation, some researchers turned to kiwifruit. A number of studies have found that kiwifruit has a laxative effect that can help relieve mild constipation.
How kiwifruit helps with constipation
One study specifically looked at the effect of kiwifruit on patients with constipation-predominant IBS (IBS-C). Researchers assigned 41 people with IBS-C to receive either a placebo or two kiwifruit per day. An additional 16 people without constipation received kiwifruit to serve as the “healthy control group”.
Researchers found that people with IBS-C who ate the kiwifruit were the only ones to see a significant increase in bowel movement frequency during the study. Both the IBS-C placebo group and the healthy control group saw little change. Despite significant improvement, the IBS-C kiwifruit group still had fewer overall bowel movements than the healthy control group, which was made up of people without constipation issues.
The study also showed that the IBS-C group that ate kiwifruit had a significant increase in colonic transit time. That means that food spent less time in their colons. There was no major change for the placebo group.
Why does kiwifruit help?
While studies seem to support the theory that kiwifruit can help relieve mild constipation, researchers aren’t entirely sure how it works. There are a number of things about the fruit that could be contributing to its laxative effect.
Kiwifruit cell walls have the ability to absorb a lot of water — about 1.5 times more than another common supplement, psyllium fibre. It also contains both soluble and insoluble fibre, which both perform roles in helping digestion. Insoluble fibre adds bulk to your stool and helps clear out your bowel, while soluble fibre mixes with water to form a gel that helps everything move along smoothly. The fruit also contains an enzyme called actinidin, which is believed to help in the digestion of certain proteins.
Things are looking promising for kiwifruit’s potential to help with mild constipation. Researchers in multiple studies reported that the fruit was tolerated well by participants with no adverse effects. The amount of kiwifruit consumed in most of the studies would also be considered low in FODMAPs, which are carbohydrates that can cause digestive upset for some people with IBS. Prunes, another frequent recommendation for helping with constipation, are high in FODMAPs, making them potentially unsuitable for some people with digestive issues.
However, it’s worth noting that most of the studies have been small, short term and have received support from an organization representing kiwifruit growers. Researchers tend to agree that more study is needed to investigate kiwifruit’s laxative benefits, as well as to explore whether other fruits may have similar effects. Still, most people with IBS-C are likely able to tolerate adding kiwifruit to their diet, which has the potential to help relieve mild constipation and the added benefit of being rich in vitamin C and folic acid.
FoodMarble is a pocket-sized breath analysis device. It helps people with chronic digestive issues determine the foods that work best with their digestive system. To learn more about FoodMarble, visit www.foodmarble.com.