When constipation makes it difficult to go, it can affect your day-to-day activities as well as your overall wellbeing, Andrew Boxer, MD, gastroenterologist at Jersey City Medical Center, tells LIVESTRONG.com.
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If you're looking for some constipation relief at home, the right juice may be at least part of the answer. Here are the best juices to help get things moving.
Talk to your doctor about new, unexplained or chronic constipation, as this could be a sign of a larger problem.
1. Prune Juice
Prune juice is the number-one juice you should turn to if you're dealing with constipation, according to Dr. Boxer. "Prune juice is considered the quintessential juice for relieving constipation and maintaining regular bowel movements," he says.
And research backs this up. For instance, an August 2014 study in Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics found that prune juice was "superior" in relieving constipation, increasing both stool weight and frequency. (Sorry for the vivid details, but the people need to know.)
Dr. Boxer explains that fruit juices like prune are helpful for constipation for two main reasons:
- Fruit juice helps hydrate and lubricate the small intestines and colon, where water is absorbed to form stool.
- Some juices have fiber and other natural properties that can have laxative effects.
Prune juice is the gold-standard remedy for constipation because just 1 cup contains a whopping 2.6 grams of dietary fiber. All of that fiber helps bulk up the stool so it can be excreted more easily, helped along with a little dose of fruit juice hydration.
But there's one more reason prune juice shines above the rest: It contains a naturally occurring, non-absorbable sugar called sorbitol.
"This sugar pulls fluid into the bowel, preventing hardening of the stools," Scott David Lippe, MD, a gasteroenterologist with New Bridge Medical Center in Paramus, New Jersey, tells LIVESTRONG.com.
2. Apple Juice
If prune juice isn't your jam, Dr. Lippe recommends reaching for apple juice, as it's another effective constipation remedy.
Like prune juice, apple juice contains high levels of naturally occurring sorbitol, which is a major constipation fighter. Indeed, a small April 2020 study in Food and Function found that apple juice can be helpful for people with chronic constipation.
The flavor of apple juice is also a lot nicer than prune juice, which makes it easier for many people — especially kids — to stomach. However, be sure not to drink too much, or you'll end up with a stomachache, Dr. Lippe cautions.
3. Pear Juice
Along with apple juice, Dr. Lippe recommends pear juice for constipation because it's another type of juice that has naturally high levels of sorbitol.
"Pear juice has about four times more sorbitol than you find in apple juice, so this may be a better option for constipation," he notes. (Although, to be fair, you might be hard-pressed to find pear juice in your local supermarket. Try checking the baby food or world food sections if you can't find it in the juice aisle.)
There isn't much research specifically on pear juice for constipation, but one study from 2001 in the Australian Journal of Nutrition and Dietetics found pear juice to be helpful for regulating bowel function. However, it was most effective after taken regularly for about a week.
To help you stay regular, Dr. Lippe recommends eating a healthy diet, getting daily exercise and staying hydrated. If you're incorporating juice into that plan, he says to stick to a half cup daily.
What About Other Fruit Juices for Constipation?
Prune, pear and apple are considered the best fruit juices for constipation, with the most evidence behind them. Here's what we know about other juices:
- Aloe vera juice: Aloe vera as an herbal supplement may be helpful for constipation, and especially for people with constipation-predominant irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), according to an October 2018 Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility review. But there's no research to support that aloe vera juice is a laxative.
- Cranberry juice: Cranberries have been studied for
their role in supporting gut health and the microbiome, but it's not clear
if those benefits apply to the juice.
- Grape juice: There's not much evidence to show that grape juice is helpful for constipation, but it may still serve a purpose: If you don't like the taste of prune, pear or apple juice, try mixing in a little grape juice to make the flavor more palatable.
- Grapefruit juice: Research in mice indicates that a compound called naringenin in grapefruit and its juice has a laxative effect, per a February 2018 International Journal of Molecular Medicine paper. But it would be a big leap to say that it has the same effect in humans. Plus, if you take a medication called Movantik for constipation, you shouldn't drink grapefruit juice or eat grapefruit, as it can cause a dangerous level of the drug in your blood.
- Lemon juice: Constipation affects many people with
cancer, and the American Cancer Society recommends hot water mixed with lemon juice as a
simple and soothing remedy.
- Orange juice: Orange juice is a beloved breakfast favorite, but there's not much evidence that it can help you poop. You're better off eating whole oranges: A small 2019 study in Drug Intervention Today found that oranges were effective in relieving constipation symptoms after participants ate one daily for about 15 days.
- Papaya juice: Papaya has been found to help with certain digestive symptoms, such as heartburn, IBS and constipation, according to a 2013 study in Neuroendocrinology Letters. But these benefits don't necessarily extend to papaya juice, which doesn't contain the fiber that whole papaya does.
Risks and Warnings
There are a few things you should keep in mind before drinking fruit juice for constipation:
- Fruit juices are high in sugar, so if you have diabetes or need to watch your sugar intake for other medical reasons, you'll need to be careful about how much juice you're drinking.
- While juice can help you poop, it shouldn't be used as a remedy for chronic constipation. If you regularly struggle to have, well, regular bowel movements, you should talk to your doctor.
- If your constipation is accompanied by other symptoms such as bleeding or unexplained weight loss, schedule a check-up with your doctor as soon as possible.
- Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics: “Systematic review: the effect of prunes on gastrointestinal”
- Food and Function: "Chemical stability of fructans in apple beverages and their influence on chronic constipation
- Australian Journal of Nutrition and Dietetics: “Managing constipation in elderly orthopaedic patients using either pear juice or a high fibre supplement”
- Drug Intervention Today: “Effect of orange on constipation patients”
- Advances in Nutrition: “Impact of Cranberries on Gut Microbiota and Cardiometabolic Health: Proceedings of the Cranberry Health Research Conference 2015”
- Neuroendocrinology Letters: “Papaya preparation (Caricol®) in digestive disorders”
- World Journal of Gastroenterology: “Aloe vera attenuated gastric injury on indomethacin-induced gastropathy in rats”
- Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility: "Aloe vera Is Effective and Safe in Short-term Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis"
- American Cancer Society: "Constipation"
- Drugs.com: "Treatment of Opioid-Induced Constipation: The Hard Facts"
- International Journal of Molecular Medicine: "Naringenin induces laxative effects by upregulating the expression levels of c-Kit and SCF, as well as those of aquaporin 3 in mice with loperamide-induced constipation"