Can snacking on kiwifruit keep you regular? According to a presentation at the American College of Gastroenterology virtual meeting, yes, kiwi can help people with chronic constipation as much as prunes and psyllium, a bulk-forming laxative, can do. But kiwis, unlike prunes and psyllium, are easier on the gas production.

The study findings mirrored the results of a Chinese study, published in 2007.

Laxatives, either ones that bulk up stools or softens them, can add up in cost and can also cause side effects, such as bloating or cramping. Because of this, many people are looking for natural alternatives to help their bowel movements become more regular.

In the new study, researchers from Michigan and Georgia looked at three natural treatments for adults with chronic constipation, which is defined as having three or fewer complete spontaneous bowel movements per week. Seventy-nine volunteers were divided into three groups, consuming either 2 kiwis per day, 100 grams per day of prunes, or 12 grams per day of psyllium for four weeks. (Psyllium is the ingredient in Metamucil.)

The main objective of the study was to see which group used the bathroom more. The results showed that all volunteers significantly increased their visits.

The researchers also asked the volunteers about stool consistency, which was improved most in both the kiwi and prune groups, and how much or hard they had to strain to move their bowels – all three groups reported significant improvement.

Side effects (abdominal bloating, pain) were most common with psyllium, followed by the prunes and then the kiwi.

  • Abdominal pain – psyllium 33% of volunteers, 18% with prunes, 0% with kiwi
  • Gas – 19% with psyllium, 18% with prunes, 0% with kiwi
  • Bloating – 36% with prunes, 11% for kiwi, 10% for psyllium

The authors concluded that the “results confirm the benefits of prunes and psyllium and offer the first US data for green kiwifruit as an effective and well-tolerated treatment for [chronic constipation] patients.”

Samantha Lucero is studying nursing at Drexel University.