A look at the use of prunes for natural constipation relief and prevention.
Constipation is one of the most common “tummy” symptoms of which people complain. About four million Americans struggle with this issue and most use over-the-counter remedies with varying degrees of success to get their bowels moving again.
Unfortunately, some become dependent on drugstore laxatives, which can worsen constipation by making the bowels “lazy.”
There’s a better way to treat constipation – and it’s as close as your local supermarket.
Prunes for constipation
Some people use psyllium to treat constipation. Psyllium consists of husks from the Plantago ovate plant and is the active ingredient in such products as Metamucil and Colon Cleanse.
Psyllium is useful for treating constipation because it’s a rich source of fiber – but there’s an even better solution.
According to a study published in Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, dried plums are better than psyllium for perking up sluggish bowels.
When they gave 40 volunteers either 11 grams of psyllium or 50 grams of dried plums (prunes) daily for three weeks, those who munched on prunes had more bowel movements.
In fact, the group who ate the dried plums had 3.5 additional bowel movements each week compared to only 2.8 in the psyllium group. They also had a healthier stool consistency.
Why does it work?
Prunes are not only a good source of fiber, but they also contain sorbitol, a natural sugar alcohol that draws water into the intestines and helps soften the stool – which is a good thing if you’re constipated.
Researchers believe it’s the sorbitol and components in dried plums other than fiber that makes it superior to psyllium for treating constipation.
Other health benefits of dried plums
There are good reasons to eat dried plums – other than to treat constipation. They have as much antioxidant power as the blueberry, and they’re a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium.
Plus, most people enjoy eating dried plums more than drinking a glassful of psyllium in water or juice.
Prunes for constipation: the bottom line?
Next time you’re constipated, skip the drugstore and head to your local supermarket instead. Pick up some dried plums and eat them once a day.
If it doesn’t relieve your constipation in a few days, see your doctor. Constipation can sometimes be a symptom of more serious medical problems.