According to new findings from researchers in New Zealand, kiwi fruit can help to encourage more frequent bowel movements in those with constipation.
While constipation is a common problem, the treatments currently available are often not deemed to be as effective as they should be. So, could kiwi fruit be a better, alternative treatment? Here, we look at what the recent study found and when you may need to seek help for constipation.
Kiwi fruit more effective than Psyllium
The latest research carried out by the University of Otago in New Zealand has found that kiwi fruit is more effective at treating constipation than the traditional treatment ‘Psyllium’. The international multicentre controlled study recruited patients from New Zealand, Japan, and Italy, and included a total of 184 participants.
Most participants either had constipation-predominant irritable bowel syndrome (IBS-C), or functional constipation. Some healthy people were also included in the study as controls. There were 136 women and 48 men included.
In the first two weeks of the study, participants were asked to record their bowel movements. They were then assigned either 7.5g of psyllium or two ripe kiwi fruits without the skins for four weeks. Treatment was then paused for four weeks, before participants switched treatments for an additional four weeks.
Those with functional constipation found that after four weeks of eating kiwi fruits, their bowel movements increased by 1.53 movements a week. Participants with IBS-C saw an increase of 1.73 movements per week. With Psyllium, only those with IBS-C saw a significant increase in bowel movements.
How does kiwi fruit help with constipation?
Kiwi fruit can help to aid constipation in numerous ways. Firstly, it has a high fibre content. On average, a kiwi fruit has 2.3g of fibre in every 100g. This is important for softening the stools and encouraging regular bowel movements.
They also contain a digestive enzyme known as actinidin, known to break down proteins and ensure food moves smoothly throughout the digestive system. Finally, kiwi fruits contain up to 80% water, providing an excellent source of hydration. This too is important as it prevents the stools from becoming hard and dry.
When to seek help for constipation
While this latest research is compelling, kiwi fruits should not be used as an alternative to traditional medication. There are many different causes of constipation, and it may point to an underlying issue.
If you experience constipation for weeks at a time, and you also experience abdominal cramping, you should seek medical advice. While increasing your consumption of kiwi fruits may help to eradicate functional constipation, you should still seek medical advice if symptoms persist.