How the humble Kiwi Fruit may hold a ‘key’ for constipation relief
By, Sangamithra GV
Constipation is a common condition that affects 1 in 7 people. In people with IBS , constipation is one of the key symptoms that affects almost half of all patients. Use of prolonged medication, gut motility changes, imbalances in gut microbiota, inadequate fiber intake, slow intestinal transit are all contributing factors. Common treatment strategies are fiber modification, exercise, medications, bio-feedback techniques and probiotics.
A simple & effective answer to easing constipation might involve eating 2 kiwifruits in day.
Many studies have examined the consumption of kiwi fruit in managing Constipation & constipation dominant IBS. For example, one study conducted in healthy adults and those with constipation predominant IBS showed that eating 2 green kiwifruit per day for 4 weeks increased defecation frequency and reduced colonic transit time. Another study in healthy, elderly people without IBS showed that daily consumption of green kiwifruit (100g kiwifruit per 30kg body weight) lead to bulkier, softer and more frequent stools. Similar results were observed in a non-randomized observational study that included adults with constipation. In this study it was observed that daily consumption of 2 green kiwifruit lead to improvements complete spontaneous bowel motions, reductions in laxative use and improvements in satisfaction with bowel habit. Most Importantly, in all of these studies, kiwifruits exerted their benefits without causing any side effects.
What is in the ‘kiwifruit’ that may reduce constipation & improve bowel movements?
A number of potential theories, for example, the fiber component of kiwifruit is thought to have a particularly high water holding capacity and that this may facilitate stool bulking and promote a laxative effect. Animal studies also suggest that the enzyme, Actinidin may play a role in promoting laxation, although human studies are yet to confirm these effects[5-7].
We may still not be sure of the exact mechanism on how kiwi works but they’re a safe & effective treatment option. As an added bonus, they are certified LOWFODMAP fruit & hence can be consumed by IBS patients. They’re also healthy, loaded with Vitamin C & relatively inexpensive, which makes them a great addition to your everyday diet.
- Ford, A.C., et al., American college of gastroenterology monograph on the management of irritable bowel syndrome and chronic idiopathic constipation. Am J Gastroenterol, 2014. 109 Suppl 1: p. S2-S26.
- Chang, C.C., et al., Kiwifruit improves bowel function in patients with irritable bowel syndrome with constipation. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr, 2010. 19(4): p. 451-7.
- Rush, E.C., et al., Kiwifruit promotes laxation in the elderly. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr, 2002. 11(2): p. 164-8.
- Chan, A.O., et al., Increasing dietary fiber intake in terms of kiwifruit improves constipation in Chinese patients. World J Gastroenterol, 2007. 13(35): p. 4771-5.
- Pastorello, E.A., et al., Identification of actinidin as the major allergen of kiwi fruit. J Allergy Clin Immunol, 1998. 101(4 Pt 1): p. 531-7.
- Boland, M. J. (2013). Kiwifruit proteins and enzymes: actinidin and other significant proteins. In: Advances in Food and Nutrition Research: Nutritional Benefits of Kiwifruit, pp. 59–80. Boland, M. and Moughan, P. J. (Eds.), Academic Press, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. .