Prune juice has a long-held reputation as an elixir to ease constipation, and a recent study suggests drinking the beverage actually works.
Researchers recruited 84 people diagnosed with chronic constipation, defined as having fewer than three bowel movements per week or hard stools for the past three months. The participants drank 200 grams (about 1 cup) of 100% prune juice or a similar-tasting placebo drink every day for eight weeks.
After only three weeks, the people drinking prune juice reported fewer hard and lumpy stools than did those who were drinking the placebo. After seven weeks, most had regular bowel movements. A previously cited downside of prune juice is a higher risk for diarrhea and gas, but the people in this study reported no such problems.
How might prune juice help? The researchers pointed to the juice's high amounts of sorbitol (sugar alcohol), dietary fiber (especially pectin), and polyphenols, all of which have been associated with treating constipation. Another possibility is that these particular ingredients (and perhaps others) work together to change the gut microbiome in a way that aids with constipation. The results were published in the October 2022 issue of The American Journal of Gastroenterology.
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