Digestive HealthWellness

10 Digestive Disease Busting Powers of Prune Juice

Prunes are well-known for their digestive health benefits due to their laxative and nutritious properties. They promote a healthy bowel movement and are recognised for having the highest antioxidant capacity of any fruit, even higher than blueberries.

How is prune juice derived?

Prunes are essentially dried plums, which are grown mostly in California and in south-west France. Prunes usually undergo a hot extraction method to be processed into juice. A low-temperature extraction method is used to produce a concentrate. Lemon, lime juice, honey or citric acid are typically added as flavouring agents.

Expert clinical insight

Medical Travel Market got in touch with Alex Evans, The Abergavenny Dietician, to gather expert insight into the benefits of prune juice. Alex is a leading gastroenterology dietician in the UK, working in both the NHS and private practice. Alex works as part of a multi-disciplinary team caring for patients with problems such as inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, liver disease and coeliac disease.

"I often see patients with constipation in my clinic. It is important to give them all the usual advice – such as eating enough fibre, drinking plenty of fluid, being as active as possible, and reviewing any medications they are taking. However, if they are already doing all of this, I will often recommend they try home-made prune juice.

Prunes are high in fibre and also contain a natural laxative – sorbitol. I tell the patients to buy the dried or semi-dried prunes, cover them with water and leave them in the fridge for a day. The liquid will turn golden-brown and is sweet and delicious. This is cheaper than the ready-made prune juice and also better for you as the commercial product is only a small percentage of prunes along with a lot of water and added sugar and/or artificial sweetener. As well as being good for constipation, it is a good source of potassium and other vitamins – for example, vitamin K. In the summer, you could always freeze it into ice-lolly moulds!"

Alex Evans, The Abergavenny Dietician

Here are ten benefits of prune juice:

1. Prevents constipation

The lack of proper eating habits in a fast-paced lifestyle has contributed to the increase in constipation in the population. Prune juice is famously known for its laxative properties, as it is not only rich in insoluble dietary fibre (which provides bulk) but also has high levels of sorbitol (a sugar alcohol that draws water) and diphenyl isatin (a natural laxative).

2. Maintains blood sugar balance

By decreasing the rate of the stomach emptying and the absorption of glucose, prune juice helps maintain blood sugar levels. This is achieved due to the soluble fibre present in prune juice. These fibres will also help decrease insulin sensitivity. Normalised blood sugar helps maintain healthy bacterial colonies.

3. Helps maintain a healthy microbiome

High levels of insoluble fibre in prune juice help to maintain healthy bacteria in the large intestines. A healthy microbiome is essential in maintaining levels of cholesterol (by producing propionic acid) and many other diseases being investigated currently, such as Parkinson’s. Insoluble fibre provides an improved colonic ecology, lowered pH of faecal output and a thirty per cent increase in bowel movement.

4. Assists with weight loss

Prune juice will increase satiety and is an excellent source of energy; thus, it is a great additive to a weight-loss plan. The fibre adds bulk that prevents overeating, and the sweet taste does not produce a postprandial rise in blood sugar or insulin, making it safe to use in even the strictest of diets.

5. Prevents haemorrhoids

Strain caused by constipation and hard bowel movements may lead to haemorrhoids, dilated blood vessels (a form of varicose veins) in the anal canal. They may be painful, obstructive or bleed and can require surgery. Prune juice benefits constipation, adding bulk to stools and producing more regular, softer stools.

6. Provides energy for bodily functions

Optimal levels of energy are required to prevent us from feeling sluggish and lethargic. An essential mineral required is iron, an essential component of haemoglobin in your red blood cells responsible for the movement of oxygen. Oxygen powers your gut muscles, which can become sluggish, leaving you bloated, gassy and constipated. Prune juice is high in iron, and also contains natural sugars, minerals, and vitamins.

7. Helps prevent colon cancer

Prune juice shows great promise as a food to lower colon cancer risk, due to its high content of dietary fibre and polyphenolics. In preventing constipation, it indirectly minimises the risk of colon cancer. In recent studies, it favourably altered other colon cancer risk factors.

8. Antibacterial properties

Prune juice contains many nutrients and antioxidant components. These characteristic phenolic compounds, as well as their metabolites, are thought to act as antibacterial agents in both gastrointestinal and urinary tracts.

9. Reduces the risk of diverticulitis

As prune juice increases the number of stools passed and the consistency of the stools, it minimises the risk of developing a diverticular disease in the bowel. Diverticular disease is the development of small pockets in the wall of the colon, which can lead to diverticulosis, diverticular bleeding, or diverticulitis. 

10. A sweet and tasty alternative for children

Constipation in children is common around the world and fortunately, in most cases it is temporary. Sweet prune juice is a great natural alternative to get children to take in enough fibre. Dietary changes can usually prevent constipation in children and if symptoms worsen, it’s always best to consult a doctor. 

Where can I buy products containing prune juice?

Finally, you’re probably wondering how do I get my hands on some prune juice. It is available in most supermarket chains and organic food stores such as Planet Organic and Real Foods. Remember, that you can take prune juice as a ready-made drink, dilute it from concentrate or take it as a supplement. It is also used in many cocktails.

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