Constipation, like diarrhoea, is a common digestive problem that almost all of us suffer from every now on then. In most cases, constipation is nothing to worry about and resolve on its own.
However, sometimes it can persist and affect individuals for several weeks. When this is the case, people can get help from laxative medicines, which induce or ease bowel movements.
The problem is many laxative drugs have side effects, which in turn deter people from using these drugs for an extended period of time. As such, many turn to alternative and natural products to relieve constipation.
In this article, we will discuss one of these natural constipation remedies: kiwifruit.
Considering the rich nutrient content of kiwifruit, the notion that eating kiwifruit could be an effective way to relieve constipation seems plausible.
More importantly, several studies – that we are going to touch on below – showed that regular consumption of kiwifruit could either prevent or relieve constipation.
This poses the question: How kiwifruit consumption can improve bowel movements, thus relieving constipation?
To better understand how eating kiwifruit helps relieve constipation, firstly we need to know how and why constipation happens.
To begin with, it is important to underline the fact that constipation is not a disease, but may emerge as a symptom of another medical condition, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome: IBS (1).
Constipation is usually defined as; having less than three bowel movements a week. In addition to the infrequency of bowel movements; the stool becomes hard; therefore becomes difficult to evacuate (2),(3).
- Frequently eating foods with a low nutritional profile
- insufficient water intake
- lack of exercise
In most cases though, not consuming enough fibre is the main cause of constipation (7).
Kiwifruit and Constipation
Since we published a comprehensive article, here on this website, about the health benefits of kiwifruit, we can confidently say that kiwifruit offers a variety of health benefits.
Kiwifruit is healthy because it supplies a plethora of essential nutrients in different quantities. And, the presence of some of these nutrients explains why kiwifruit is thought to relieve constipation.
These nutrients are:
- Fibre (soluble and insoluble)
- Actinidin (an enzyme)
- Vitamin C
All of these nutrients could help combat constipation in different ways. But, fibre content is arguably the most effective one.
So, the next question: how does the intake of these nutrients help you relieve constipation? Keep reading to find out.
If there is no underlying condition that could cause constipation, probably the first thing that a doctor may suspect would be low fibre intake. In fact, this alone could easily explain the importance of consuming enough fibre for regular bowel movements.
Kiwifruit is not extremely rich in fibre. However, this delicious and healthy fruit can give you a decent amount of fibre.
it is important to underline that kiwifruit contains both soluble and insoluble fibre, both of which work in harmony and combat constipation (11).
According to everydayhealth.com (12): Soluble fibre allows more water to remain in the stool (poop), making the stool softer and larger. That, in turn, speeds up the transition of stool through the bowels and help prevent constipation.
Insoluble fibre, on the other hand, adds bulk to the stool, facilitating the waste to move along the gastrointestinal tract smoothly (13).
Registered dietitian Emily Tills says: “Fibre helps regulate the digestive system and help move the food along the gastrointestinal tract. When we don’t have enough fibre in our diet, we can experience severe constipation” (14),(15).
In a nutshell, dietary fibre is necessary for healthy and regular bowel movements. Kiwifruit provides your body with soluble and insoluble fibre in handsome amounts, thus helping you to keep constipation at bay.
Scientific studies tell us that actinidin has various digestive benefits (17), (18), (19). In addition to these benefits; research suggests that actinidin may have a laxative effect; therefore can be added into the daily diet as a treatment for relieving mild constipation (20).
Please bear in mind; this digestion-promoting enzyme (actinidin) is heavily available in Hayward kiwifruit, which is the green variety (21).
3- Vitamin C May Help
Almost all of us know the importance of vitamin C for the human body, especially for the immune system. Yet, the effect of vitamin C on constipation is mostly unknown.
To support this; in a study, researchers found that pre-school children with constipation had lower levels of vitamin C along with folate and magnesium (24).
4 – Potassium
Another nutrient that makes kiwifruit potentially good for constipation is potassium. Kiwis might not be rich in potassium; that said eating two kiwifruits a day can give 10 % of your body’s daily potassium need.
So, what role could potassium play in relieving or preventing constipation?
Gina Sam – assistant professor of gastroenterology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City – says; ” When your potassium is low, the muscles in your colon don’t move as much and can lead to constipation. Luckily, the cure is simple: Add more potassium to your diet.” (27),(28)
When potassium lacks, the human body is negatively impacted in many ways. In terms of constipation; potassium deficiency can cause contractions in the digestive system to get weak, thus slowing the transition of food in the digestive tract. As a result of this, the risk of constipation increases significantly (29),(30).
As mentioned above; even though the potassium amount in a single kiwifruit is not too high, eating two kiwifruits a day can give 10 % of the daily potassium need. And, that may decrease the risk of constipation by supporting bowel movements.
Studies on Kiwifruit and Constipation
At the beginning of the article, we mentioned that certain studies showed the positive impact of kiwifruit on constipation. In this section, we will analyse some of them.
1- Kiwifruit Promotes Laxation in the Elderly
In this study; researchers aimed to evaluate whether or not regular consumption of kiwifruit has a laxative effect (31).
All 38 participants were older than 60 and were given 1 kiwi per 30 kg – which means a participant weighing 60 kg was given 2 kiwis a day – for 3 weeks. In this 3 week period, they consumed their normal diet.
The frequency and characteristics of their stools were recorded.
At the end of the 3-week period, researchers reported that regular kiwifruit consumption significantly enhanced all tested measures of laxation in these older adults (31)
Researchers noted that; most likely many nutrients in the kiwifruit played a role; however, the fibre content of kiwifruit seemed to be the most important factor in constipation relief (31).
2- IBS – Kiwifruit – Constipation
The purpose of this study, published in the Asia Pacific journal of clinical nutrition, was to evaluate the effect of kiwifruit consumption for 4-week on bowel functions in IBS (irritable bowel syndrome ) patients (32).
Note: The main symptoms of IBS are abdominal pain, diarrhoea and constipation (33).
54 IBS patients and 16 healthy adults took part in the study and all were given 2 green kiwifruits per day for 4 weeks. All the participants completed daily defecation records.
Results showed that: 4-week daily green kiwifruit consumption significantly increased the frequency of the bowel movements, plus decreased colon transit time in people with IBS / constipation (32).
How Many Kiwifruit Should I Eat For Constipation?
Well, although there is no ideal number of how many kiwifruits should be eaten to combat constipation; in the scientific studies – which carried out to determine the effectiveness of kiwifruit on the constipation problem – participants were given either 1 or 3 kiwis a day and results were positive in terms constipation relief.
Based on this, not more than 3 kiwis a day should help you better cope with constipation. Moreover, it is recommended to eat 1 to 3 kiwis a day to reap the nutritional benefits of kiwifruit.
For instance; if you are constipated due to insufficient fibre intake, then kiwi consumption can help you get rid of constipation as it contains a decent amount of both soluble and insoluble fibre.
Moreover, other nutrients in kiwifruit namely; potassium, actinidin and vitamin C can also play their role and help you overcome constipation.
On top of everything though; the results of scientific studies conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of kiwifruit consumption on constipation are quite promising.
Nevertheless; there is no such thing as ” eating kiwis is the exact solution for constipation”. Because constipation can occur due to various reasons including cancer.
Additionally, it is important to underline that everyone has a unique bowel function; therefore can respond to different foods differently. Some can find constipation relief by eating dates or dried apricots while kiwifruit can be a saviour for others.
To sum up: As we discussed throughout the article; kiwifruit can be a side-effect-free and the most delicious way to cope with constipation.
What’s more; eating kiwifruit on a regular basis can also boost your health in many ways, such as by improving your sleep quality, thanks to the rich nutrient content of the fruit.
Note: if your constipation doesn’t go away for three weeks or more, please consult your doctor instead of finding a home remedy. Because an underlying ( more serious ) medical condition might be the culprit (34).
Extra Tips to Relieve Constipation
1- Eat enough Fiber
2- Be physically active
3- Drink enough fluids
4- Do colonic massage
Tarkan is an experienced medical writer ( currently more than 600 medical articles ) and also the founder of this website namely www.neededforhealth.com. His expertise in health stems from in-depth medical research and knowledge which he obtained over the course of many years.
Tarkan enjoys sharing factual knowledge on health, psychology and nutrition. He always aims to deliver evidence-based recommendations, provide links to related scientific studies.