The average number of bowel movements a week is compared between those eating prunes, those taking a fiber supplement, and those eating a strictly plant-based diet.
Images thanks to OliBac
Though there is an International Prune Association keeping us all apprised of the latest prune news from around the world, in the U.S. the California prune board successfully pressured the FDA to change the name from prunes to dried plums, which evidently evokes more of a positive fresh fruit goodness image, in hopes of attracting their target audience, women. Of course it might help if they actually included one or two on their Board. In doing so though, they hope to de-emphasize its connections to digestive regularity issues. Why sell yourself short, though! Check this out: Randomized clinical trial: prunes vs. Metamucil, also known as psyllium. Constipation is a common problem that affects up to 20% of the world’s population. Nearly 60 million Americans suffer from chronic constipation, particularly a problem in women and the elderly. A pathological condition that is often severe enough to disrupt daily activities, derange quality of life, respond poorly to available medical remedies, and may prompt sophisticated and potentially harmful surgical procedures. Despite all this, it is still frequently considered a trivial issue and affected individuals tend to self-medicate either using OTC laxatives or ‘natural’ remedies, but none of these has been adequately investigated," until now. Fiber supplements can be inconvenient, taste nasty, cause bloating—even choking, so we need a food-based, natural, convenient tasty alternative, but do prunes work? Here are the study subjects at baseline. Each dot is a complete spontaneous bowel movement. Went from an average of 1.7 a week up to 3.5 on prunes, then back to baseline off prunes, then on Metamucil got up to 2.8, then back down. And remember the Bristol stool scale? Significantly better stool consistency on the prunes. They conclude treatment with dried plums resulted in a greater improvement in constipation symptoms than the commonly used fiber supplement, psyllium." So given their palatability, tolerability and availability, dried plums should be "considered as a first line therapy for chronic constipation.” If that's what adding one plant can do, what if all you ate was plants?
To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Jonathan Hodgson.
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Who can forget the Bristol stool scale? Even if you've already seen it you may want a refresher: Bristol Stool Scale. And while we're on the topic, here are some others on optimizing bowel function:
Prunes may also help improve the health of our skin—see Beauty Is More Than Skin Deep.
In general we should try to get our nutrients from whole food, not supplements (Some Dietary Supplements May Be More Than a Waste of Money).
See the previous video Dried Apples, Dates, Figs or Prunes for Cholesterol? for a comparison of prunes to other dried fruit in terms of cholesterol-lowering capacity. And if you're worried dried fruit may be too calorically dense, the next video Do Fruit & Nut Bars Cause Weight Gain? should help put your mind at ease.
For more context, please refer to the following associated blog posts: Best Dried Fruit For Cholesterol , Best Treatment for Constipation, Raisins vs. Energy Gels for Athletic Performance, and Flaxseeds for Diabetes
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