Patients with chronic constipation treated with kiwi fruit, prunes and psyllium reported relief in symptoms, according to a study published in American Journal of Gastroenterology, but kiwi had the highest patient satisfaction and the lowest rate of adverse events. “Functional foods” like kiwi and prunes are safer and less expensive than prescription medications, and it turns out, pretty effective for constipation too.
79 adults with chronic constipation were assigned to one of three natural treatment groups for 4-weeks. One group consumed two green kiwi fruit daily; another consumed 100 g of prunes every day; and the third group took a daily dose of 12 g of a psyllium fiber supplement. The primary endpoint was the proportion of patients in each group that reported an increase of one or more complete spontaneous bowel movements (CSBM) compared with baseline. Stool frequency and consistency, as well as treatment satisfaction and adverse events were also evaluated. All three treatments improved bowel regularity, but there were fewer adverse events with kiwi, which had the lowest rates of pain, discomfort, bloating, and gas. Only 7% of participants in the kiwi group expressed dissatisfaction, compared to 17% in the prune group and 38% with psyllium.
Kiwi contains an enzyme called actinidain (also found in pineapple and papaya), that breaks down protein, and is used in the food industry as a meat tenderizer. An added benefit is that for people following a low FODMAP diet, kiwi is lower on the FODMAP scale, and it contains significantly less sugar than prunes. If you’re struggling with chronic constipation, in addition to making sure you’re adequately hydrated and moving (exercise stimulates gut motility), adding in a couple kiwi every day might help get your products of digestion to the finish line faster and with less discomfort.