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Kiwi Fruit: A Natural Remedy for Constipation?

You may have read about the many health benefits of kiwi fruit, but in the mainstream press, its use as a natural remedy for constipation tends to get overlooked in favor of its other potential uses. And that is despite the fact that many people who suffer from constipation swear by the laxative effects of kiwi fruit. So, to raise a bit more awareness of the effects of kiwi fruit on your digestive health, here's the lowdown on what you need to know about kiwi fruit and constipation:

Kiwi Fruit

Kiwi Fruit Relieves Constipation In Healthy Adults, Study Show

A large body of anecdotal evidence suggests that kiwifruit has laxative effects. To test whether there is some truth to the claims that kiwifruit can relieve constipation, a group of researchers led by professor Elaine Rush from the Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand decided to study whether regular consumption of kiwifruit could stimulate bowel movemenets in elderly people. They picked elderly people because constipation is a common health complaint in the elderly population.

The study involved 38 healthy adults who were older than 60 years. The participants were asked to consume their normal diet, with or without one kiwifruit per 30 kg bodyweight for three weeks. The trial period was followed by a 3-week cross-over period. Frequency of defecation and characteristics of the stools were recorded each day.

The results were astonishing: Regular consumption of kiwifruit improved all tested measures of laxation in the study participants. The stools were bulkier and softer, and the bowel movements were more frequent. According to the researchers, the nature of the stools suggests that fiber played an important role, but they also believe that a number of other factors may have been involved. [1]

Kiwi Fruit May Also Offer Benefits for People with Constipation-Predominant IBS

In another study, kiwi was found to offer benefits for people with IBS characterized by constipation. IBS, which stands for irritable bowel syndrome, is a common disorder of the digestive system and is characterized by abdominal pain and either diarrhea, constipation or alternating diarrhea and constipation.

Published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, this study examined the impact of kiwifruit intervention on bowel function in people diagnosed with constipation-predominant IBS (IBS-C). The study involved 54 adults with IBS-C and 16 healthy adults. The study consisted of three phases: a baseline phase, dietary intervention period, and post-intervention phase. Forty-one IBS-C patients and all healthy adults consumed two kiwi fruits per day during the four-week intervention phase. Thirteen IBS-C patients in the control group took placebo capsules during the intervention phase.

The results were promising: the frequency of bowel movements as well as colon transit time increased significantly in the IBS-C patients who consumed kiwifruit. The researchers concluded that kiwifruit consumption for four weeks appears to improve bowel function in people diagosed with constipation-predominant IBS. [2]

So, What Makes Kiwi Fruit an Effective Remedy for Constipation?

So what it is that makes kiwi fruit work as a natural laxative? As of the writing of this article, scientists are not sure. Some believe the kiwi fruit fiber, which appears to have exceptionally strong water-holding capabilities due to kiwi fruit's unusual cell wall properties, might have something to do with the observed constipation relieving effects of kiwi fruit. But scientists also believe a number of other kiwi fruit constituents are likely to play a role as well. The enzyme actinidin, in particular, has received a lot of attention in this context. Also spelled actinidain, actinidin is a proteolytic enzyme which means it breaks down proteins into amino acids. [1, 3, 4]

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