If you find yourself thinking about prune juice – it’s probably due to that dreaded sluggish, bloated, gassy feeling of constipation, there to rob you of any productivity and wellbeing you may have been looking forward to today.
After all, when else does anyone crave prune juice?
And, while there are both natural and not-so-natural remedies, you are one to opt for the former, which is why you are considering prune juice as a possible cure. After all, it does seem to have quite the reputation for waking up sluggish bowels – something everyone from our grandmothers to modern science has recommended at one time or another.
The general consensus can’t be wrong, right? Does prune juice really work? Lots of questions – and more if you really look into it. Like, how are you supposed to best take the stuff? Is it best to use juice, or would whole fruit be a better option? And what about side effects – nearly all laxatives have side effects of some kind, does this include prune juice?
Ah, so many questions to answer! Let’s get to it, and see what the verdict on using prune juice to take care of your occasional constipation may be.
To start, prune juice is high in sorbitol, a slowly digested sugar alcohol which works by drawing water into the large intestine, thereby softening stools and stimulating a bowel movement. Prune juice also contains fiber – both soluble and insoluble – which works in unison with sorbitol as a bulking agent, and helps loosen stools and move them along the intestinal tract.
Along with sorbitol and fiber, prune juice also contains dihydrophenylisatin, which stimulates fluid secretion and muscle contractions in the colon. Dihydrophenylesatin is known of as a stimulant laxative, which is likely the reason prune juice works so quickly (in as little as a few minutes, though usually 30-minuts to 1-hour).
Finally, prune juice is high in minerals, such as potassium, as well as vitamins, which all play key roles in activating digestive enzymes, which help to break down solid waste and move it easily through the colon.
Plus, with a lightly sweet and fruity flavor, prune juice is easy to consume, and is particularly refreshing when chilled.
This makes it not only easy for you to get down, but is also appealing to children, making prune juice great for kids who are experiencing constipation.
So, you want a snack which is not only rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber, but can get you relief from constipation? Welcome to the prune: super-fruit extraordinaire!
However, is eating the whole fruit any better than drinking prune juice when it comes to relieving constipation?
First, it should be noted that a prune is a type of plum which can be eaten either fresh or dried, with dried being the form we are most familiar with.
That said, there are both advantages and disadvantages to consuming the whole fruit vs drinking the juice when it comes to curing your occasional constipation. For instance, while prune juice does contain fiber, it is not nearly as rich in it as the whole fruit. This is due to both the obvious reason of the juice having been extracted from the pulp – the pulp itself being mainly fiber – as well as from filtering after the juicing process.
This makes the whole fruit arguably better for long-term relief of constipation, since consuming enough fiber daily is a key to alleviating constipation and keeping yourself regular.
Juice, on the other hand, may be better for immediate relief, since it does not require the same length of digestive time for the stimulating activity of dihydrophenylesatin to go to work.
The bottom line? Both will get the job done, although as with any whole fruit vs juice comparison, the whole fruit is not only more nutritionally complete, but has a lower concentration of calories and sugars than juice. So, for immediate relief from constipation, try some juice.
At the same time, getting in the habit of snacking on prunes daily will help you avoid bouts of constipation, and will also help keep you feeling full and satisfied from the fiber while lowers your calorie and sugar consumption over drinking juice.
For the most part, prune juice is perfectly safe, although some restraint is still necessary.
First, too much of nearly ANY laxative will net you the same result: overactive bowels and frantic trips to the bathroom, so go easy on prune juice to avoid diarrhea. Overconsumption can also cause gas, bloating and stomach cramps, due mainly to the combination of sugars, fiber, and sorbitol. Not fun, my friends, not fun.
Dried prunes are also high in acrylamide, a carcinogen and neurotoxin which is created through heat during the drying process, although it has been determined that the recommended 4 to 8 oz for adults is too low to warrant concern.
And, while it may “help the medicine go down,” prune juice is high in sugar, as well as calories, so loads of prune juice is not the answer for diabetics or those managing their weight.
However, when consumed in the recommended amounts, which is around 4 to 8 oz for adults, and 2 to 4 oz for infants and young children, you should be just fine.
No laxative is perfectly safe and free of side effects, although prune juice comes much closer than most other alternatives. By being natural, not-too-bad tasting, and fast-acting, prune juice may be just the thing to relieve your constipation, and whole prunes are also a good option for anyone wanting a tasty snack which doubles as a laxative.
So, for long and short-term relief from constipation, consider prune juice, and you will likely find that your grandmother is right – it works!