There isn't a one-size-fits-all approach to managing constipation. Diet, exercise, sleep, stress, medications, other medical conditions and our environment are all factors that need to be considered.
But when it comes to the dietary factors, there are two key ones to think about - more water and more fibre.
There are lots of different strategies to up your fibre intake, but interestingly there’s one particular high-fibre fruit that has shown to be very beneficial for those suffering with constipation.
A study in adults with constipation-predominant IBS showed that eating 2 green kiwi fruits per day for 4 weeks increased elimination frequency and reduced transit time.
A study in otherwise healthy, elderly people without IBS showed that daily consumption of green kiwifruit lead to bulkier, softer and more frequent stools.
A non-randomised observational study that included adults with constipation observed that daily consumption of 2 green kiwi fruit led to improvements complete spontaneous bowel motions, reductions in laxative use and improvements in satisfaction with bowel habit.
Why Kiwi Fruit?
The fibre component in kiwifruit has been identified as having a high water holding capacity which is what is believed to help bulk up stools and help promote the passing of a stool.
Contains the enzyme Actinidin, which is believed to play a role in helping to promote bowel movements.
Kiwi fruits are high in vitamin C which have been found to have an osmotic effect in the digestive tract, pulling water into the intestines and helping to soften stools.
Putting it into practice?
If you are struggling with constipation, try to have one kiwi fruit per day for one week. If well tolerated, double to two kiwis per day and continue for 3 weeks. See if you notice a difference.
Also, don’t be afraid of eating the skin! Just give kiwi fruits a really good wash (and make sure you take any stickers off!).
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.
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.
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
Richardson, D. P., Ansell, J., & Drummond, L. N. (2018). The nutritional and health attributes of kiwifruit: a review. European journal of nutrition, 57(8), 2659–2676.
Rush, E.C., et al., Kiwifruit promotes laxation in the elderly. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr, 2002. 11(2): p. 164-8.