NMU 271 – Kiwifruit Improves Constipation, IBS, Indigestion/Reflux, and Abdominal Discomfort
Nutrition/Natural Medicine Update no 271 (January 5, 2023)
with Dr. James Meschino
Topic: Kiwifruit Improves Constipation, IBS, Indigestion/Reflux, and Abdominal Discomfort
Source: American Journal of Gastroenterology (December 2022)
A study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology in December 2022, showed that patients with functional constipation and constipation associated with irritable bowel syndrome, who were instructed to consume two green kiwifruits per day for four weeks, experienced a significant improvement in constipation problems and abdominal discomfort. The other treatment group was instructed to consume 7.5 grams of psyllium husk fiber per day, which is also known to improve constipation problems. The study showed that kiwifruit consumption improved bowel movement frequency to a similar degree as psyllium husk fiber, but kiwifruit consumption provided the added benefit of softer, easier-to-eliminate stools and reduced abdominal discomfort to a much greater degree. In the post-study interview, published on Medscape, the researchers further explained that not only did kiwifruit consumption improve bowel regularity, but it improved stool consistency, ease of elimination, abdominal comfort and it improved symptoms of indigestion, reflux, and abdominal pain in many patients. They explained that the fiber in the cell walls of kiwifruit swells and holds water once in the intestinal tract, which softens stools and increases bowel movement frequency. Certain constituents in kiwifruit, such as raphides, may alter mucin production, which leads to improved laxation – proving a mild laxative effect from the secretion of a slippery film (mucin) along the inner surface of the colon wall.
This multicenter trial involved over 180 patients living in Japan, Italy, and New Zealand. After four weeks on either kiwifruit or psyllium husk fiber, the participants had a 4-week period with no treatment (washout period). Then each group switched – meaning that those originally ingesting the psyllium ingested Kiwifruit instead and vice versa. This is known as a cross-over trial. As I mentioned, kiwifruit intake provided similar benefits to psyllium husk fiber regarding increased bowel movement frequency but provided a much greater benefit with respect to stool consistency, ease of elimination, overall abdominal comfort level and reduced indigestion and reflux symptoms. As the researchers concluded, “taken in conjunction with previous clinical trials of green kiwifruit and the emerging physiological data from functional studies, consumption of two green kiwifruits per day can be safely recommended as an effective treatment for constipation in those with functional gastrointestinal disorders that will also provide improvements in symptoms of GI comfort”.
I think this research is important, as according to a 2020 publication in the American Journal of Gastroenterology (June 2020), chronic functional constipation affects 9-20% of the adult U.S. population and is defined as unsatisfactory defecation and difficult or infrequent stools, often involving fewer than three complete bowel movements per week. And about 11% of the population suffers from irritable bowel syndrome. So, for many people adding two green fresh kiwifruits to their daily food consumption might provide some welcomed relief to this very common problem. Of course, consuming a more plant-based diet, eating more fiber in general, as well as getting regular exercise and adequate fluid intake, are other natural ways to help improve bowel function and overall health, in general.
I have included the references for this information in the text below.
1. Richard G et al. Consumption of two green kiwifruit daily improves constipation and abdominal comfort- results on an international multicentre randomized controlled trial. Am J Gastroenterol. December 2022. https://journals.lww.com/ajg/Abstract/9900/Consumption_of_two_green_kiwifruit_daily_improves.592.aspx
2. Medscape Interview: Kiwifruit found effective for constipation. Medscape. January 3, 2023. Harrison L. https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/986297?src=wnl_recnlnew2_ous_230102_MSCPEDIT_&uac=342474MN&impID=5055634#vp_2
3. Oh S.J et al. Chronic constipation in the United States: Results from a population-based survey assessing healthcare seeking and use of pharmacotherapy. Am J Gastroenterol. June 2020 https://journals.lww.com/ajg/fulltext/2020/06000/chronic_constipation_in_the_united_states__results.19.aspx
4. Bellini M et al. Irritable bowel syndrome and chronic constipation: Fact and fiction. World J Gastroenterol. 2015; 21(40): 11362-11370 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4616212/
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