Living with a bowel disorder can be uncomfortable and require you to carefully monitor your diet so you do not aggravate the issue. Fruit juice may seem like an innocuous and refreshing source of vitamins and minerals, but if you have bowel problems the ingredients in your juice could be affecting them. Depending on the type of bowel issues you have, fruit juices can be a blessing or a curse.
The primary component of fruit juice that can affect your bowels is the sugar, or carbohydrates. Fructose and sorbitol are both sugars present naturally in fruits that your body may not be able to digest well. When you consume these sugars, the bacteria in your intestines consume them as an energy source and excrete gas as a byproduct. This may result in stomach pains on top of existing bowel problems.
Though sorbitol increases the amount of gas in your digestive tract, it can be useful for the treatment of constipation. Sorbitol pulls water into your intestines and helps move excrement through your body faster. Sorbitol also appears to have a synergistic effect with fructose in your bowels. By preventing fructose absorption, sorbitol may significantly increase your bowel movements to alleviate constipation.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Everyone's intestinal tract is different, so you may have a different fruit juice tolerance threshold than your neighbor. However, it is not uncommon for juices that have a high fructose-to-glucose ratio, or sorbitol content, to cause intestinal distress according to AskDrSears.com. This is especially true if you already have a condition such as irritable bowel syndrome or stomach flu.
Not all juices contain fructose and sorbitol in amounts that will affect your bowel problems. For example, the University of Maryland advises that you avoid apple juice and grape juice if you have irritable bowel syndrome, while nutrition experts with the Herbert Irving Cancer Center recommend prune, apple and pear juices as the best for treating constipation. Juices with fructose may affect you less if they are also high in glucose, because the glucose helps you better absorb fructose. Orange juice is one example of a drink with fructose and glucose together. If your favorite juice bothers your digestive tract, you may need to dilute it with water or eliminate it from your diet altogether.