Plums as good as fiber supplements for constipation: study

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Plum juice is as effective in boosting digestive health as fiber supplements among those with chronic constipation, according to a peer-reviewed study partly funded by leading North American plum juice maker, SunSweet Growers.

The six-week study gave 36 subjects either given an eight ounce glass of PlumSmart per day for two weeks of 100 per cent plum juice, a psyllium fiber supplement or a fiber-free apple juice placebo.

Of female participants, 72 percent said they felt regularity benefits within 24 hours when drinking PlumSmart, compared to 29 percent with the placebo and 50 percent with the fiber supplement.

Plum juice has quietly been gathering sales as a lower profile superjuice than cranberry and pomegranate and this study will add to its salability – helped by a price of $3.49 for a 48 ounce bottle which is less than some other super fruit juices such as goji.

"Digestive health issues are a common issue with both women and men, affecting nearly a quarter of adults,"​ said Carolyn O'Neil, MS, RD and member of Sunsweet's Nutrition Advisory Council.

PlumSmart, a Californian co-operative says its juice is made from a breed of plums that has enhanced levels of fiber, which function in a prebiotic manner to feed gut flora.

The beverage provides 3g of fiber per eight ounce serving and 120 percent RDA of vitamin C and is also fortified with ginger and chamomile. The company has a light version with 60 calories.

The study, conducted by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health researchers and published in The Internet Journal of Nutrition and Wellness, ​additionally found plum juice had satiety benefits.

The study found that those drinking plum juice had softer stools than those on either the fiber supplement or the apple juice and that those on plum juice felt relief more quickly than the other nutrients.

It also found participants preferred the taste of plum juice over apple juice psyllium and liked it as much as apple juice alone.

“This study provides preliminary evidence to support the daily use of natural product, plum juice, as an accepted and effective treatment for stool softening and immediate relief of constipation symptoms,”​ the researchers concluded.

They did note study limitations such as the small sample size as well as some of the retrospective data but added the fact both men and women, in a broad range of body mass indexes (BMIs) and across demographic groups were included, strengthened its findings. A low drop-out rate showed allowed for “less complicated interpretation of the results”.

Source:The Internet Journal of Nutrition and Wellness

​A Naturalistic, Controlled, Crossover Trial of Plum Juice versus Psyllium versus Control for Improving Bowel Function”

​2009 Volume 7, Number 2

Authors: L. H. Cheskin, A. H. Mitola, M. Ridoré, S. Kolge, K. Hwang & B. Clark

Related topics: Research, Gut/digestive health, Polyphenols

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