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Prune Juice for Constipation

Should you use prune juice for constipation?  Many people drink prune juice for irregularity and as a preventative. Prunes are legendary for its high fiber levels, providing a natural laxative effect. Interestingly, fiber is NOT the key laxative ingredient in prune juice. Prune juice may not be appropriate for individuals watching calories, sugar or iron intake.

Prunes And Constipation
Prunes are dried plums. Growers first started planting plum trees thousands of years ago. European settlers brought plums to America where it now grows in 23 states. Plum trees prefer well drained soil, so hilltops and slopes make the best sties for plum orchards. In more northern states, farmers paint the trunks of plum trees to protect them from cold winters. Harvested plums are exposed to hot air at 85 to 90 degrees Celsius for 18 hours to remove the water from them, making prunes. Both prunes and plums are high in fiber which acts as a natural laxative.

Prune Juice for Constipation
Even though prune juice is made from high fiber prunes, it is not a significant source of fiber. Prune juice is derived from steamed prunes. The steamed prunes are pushed through screens to remove the pit. Water is added to the mixture, forming a prune paste, which is then cooked again. The skins and any undissolved pulp are filtered out, and what's left is prune juice.

The laxative properties of prune juice come from sorbitol. Sorbitol is a 6-carbon carbohydrate that is similar to glucose. Sorbitol is in plums, prunes, and prune juice. Other fruits and berries also contain sorbitol. The sugary taste of sorbitol makes it a popular sweetener in soft drinks and candies. Sorbitol does have a few calories, but most of the sorbitol in food does not get absorbed by the digestive system. The unabsorbed sorbitol becomes part of the stool in the large intestine. Because sorbitol can dissolve in water, it increases the concentration of solutes in the stool. This drives osmosis to bring water from the tissues of the large intestine into the stool. Stool with a higher water content is more malleable and passes through the colon more easily. Prune juice belongs to the osmotic laxative class of constipation remedies. Osmotic products bring water from the tissue of the large intestine into the stool.

The downside to prune juice for some, may be its taste, its calories (120 per 6 oz serving) , sugars (12 grams per serving) and iron. Other osmotic options include supplements.  H2Go, a patented magnesium supplement, is a hyperosmotic agent. It brings large water into the stool through osmosis.  H2Go is effective for many people at low intake  (2 H2Go mini tabs  daily) because of its three dimensional shape.
 


Quick Facts about Plums, Prunes, and Prune Juice
•    Producers Manufacture Prunes and Prune Juice from Plums
•    Plums came to America from Europe
•    Although Plums and Prunes Have Fiber, Prune Juice Does Not
•    Plums, Prunes, and Prune Juice Contain Sorbitol
•    Sorbitol Brings Water into Stool through Osmosis


Plums, prunes, and prune juice help counteract constipation. Plums are a traditional European crop that is cultivate in many parts of the USA. Manufacturers produce prunes and prune juice from plums. Both plums and prunes contain fiber, a natural laxative. Prune juice has no significant fiber, but it does retain the sorbitol from the plums. Sorbitol is a natural osmotic agent.Calories, sugar or iron aside, prune juice for constipation can be a beneficial, natural option.

References:

1. Chemical Composition and Potential Health Effects of Prunes: A Functional Food? on PubMed
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11401245

2. Gas in the Digestive Tract
on National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse
http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/gas/

3. Sweeteners on Medline Plus
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002444.htm

4. Plums on HortAnswers
University of Illinois Extension
http://urbanext.illinois.edu/hortanswers/plantdetail.cfm?PlantID=494&PlantTypeID=11

5. Management of Constipation in Residents with Dementia: Sorbitol Effectiveness and Cost on PubMed
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15890292

6. Slow-transit Constipation on PubMed
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11469989

7. Plant Profile for Prunus domestica
By the USA Department of Agriculture
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=PRDO