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Kiwifruit for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

An estimated 10-20% of the general population suffers from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which accounts for about 4 million doctors’ visits a year. What can we do for these tens of millions of sufferers? In my video Kiwifruit for Irritable Bowel Syndrome I profile a “kiwifruit intervention.” Researchers found that eating 2 kiwifruit a day for a month significantly “shortens colon transit time, increases defecation frequency, and improves bowel function” in those with constipation-type IBS.

Furthermore, “No deleterious effects of kiwifruit consumption on psychological functioning or adverse events were found in these studies.” I would hope not! The reason the researchers put that in there, though, is to contrast kiwi fruit to tegaserod, the most frequently prescribed drug for IBS. Well, at least it was before it was pulled from the market out of concern that it was killing people by increasing their risk of heart attack and stroke. Thus, I’d suggest trying the kiwis first.

The role of fruit, fiber, and antioxidants may help explain why people eating plant-based diets have improved bowel function in general. See my videos Bristol Stool ScaleBulking Up on AntioxidantsBowels of the EarthFood Mass Transit, and Say No to Drugs by Saying Yes to More Plants.

What else can kiwis do? We’ve known that fruits, vegetables, and other whole plant foods rich in antioxidants can decrease oxidative damage to our DNA, but only recently has there been work done on dietary interventions to boost DNA repair, our second line of defense against cancer. We’re going to get some DNA damage in this polluted world no matter how healthy our diets and lifestyles are, so its critical to find ways to upregulate our DNA repair enzymes to better assist with stitching our DNA back together. What would happen if people were given some kiwifruits on and off for a few weeks? Find out in my video Kiwifruit and DNA Repair.

The video ends with a question about trying to break through the kiwi plateau effect with other fruits and vegetables. Find out whether this was possible in the follow-up 3-min. video Plant-Based Diets and Cellular Stress Defenses. The results support the previous work on the importance of dietary diversity that I profiled in Apples and Oranges and Garden Variety Anti-Inflammation. The study of thousands of foods I mention is referring to Antioxidant Content of 3,139 Foods and Antioxidant Power of Plant Foods Versus Animal Foods.

Note the study was measuring so-called “epigenetic” changes, meaning differential gene expression. Just because we have a certain set of genes doesn’t mean we can’t turn them on and off with changes in our diet (see Mitochondrial Theory of Aging and Convergence of Evidence).

Finally, other ways to protect our DNA include eating broccoliavoiding bacon, and not overdoing stevia, as well as eating a plant-centered diet in general (see Repairing DNA Damage and Research Into Reversing Aging).

-Michael Greger, M.D.


Michael Greger M.D., FACLM

Michael Greger, M.D. FACLM, is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial.

9 responses to “Kiwifruit for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

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  1. Kiwi are also high in histamines – which promote bowel motility, yes, however, they also promote pain, ie aches and pains, gi distress (diarrhea), migraine, urticaria, eczema, heart palpitations, sinusitis, and SO much more you should do an online search, it’ll blow your mind.  I used to “juice” fruit/veg high in histamine (banana, strawberries, spinach, pineapple, KIWI with skin .. argh) … please people, we’re all different!  Hooray that vegetarian diet works for you … so you think.  In my researching what diet was best for me I finally found info that really helped (re: biogenic amines which are in ALL foods).  Do an elimination diet and chart your symptoms.  Best advice ever.  :)

  2. I keep seeing videos by vegans claiming there was a  Japanese study that found that bananas contain a substance once they get black-spots that is found to slow cancer. Is there any truth to this?

  3. Dear Dr. Greger, thank you so much for your work!

    Though a vegan since 7 months, I avoid eating all fruits, onions and often legumes due to my fructose malabsorption.

    Nevertheless, the symptoms remain: bloating and flatulence. Nevermind what I am eating, I go to sleep and wake up with a bloated belly. No elimination diet helps. I am slim and petit, so it really shows and makes me feel very uncomfotable.

    In sum, I have this symptom since 6 years, though it got worse on a vegan diet.

    Do you have any idea, what I could do?

    I would be very thankful for your answer.

    Greetings from Germany

    1. I am hoping he does something on fructose malabsorption. I have it too and discovered that avoiding onions, garlic, beans in large quantity, fruits, wheat, and breads has helped enormously. I eat a vegan gluten free diet and only get symptoms if I eat a food high in fructose or fructans. Check out the fodmaps diet. Good luck

    2. Fructose is only one of the FODMAPS that cause bloating etc. For example I have the same problems you are describing with Lactose (dairy sugar). Do some research on FODMAPS and work with a registered dietitian to identify your trigger foods. Also if you are a female please get screened for ovarian cancer. That bloating can be an early symptom. At least inquire with your doctor about it.

  4. what do you do if you have IBS-D & a lot of food intolerances that are on the FOSDMAPS diet making the diet extremely restrictive,what do you do then? How do you stay vegan & get all the nutrition you need in an affordable way when beans are a big no-no?

    1. Just with regard to beans (as well as broccoli), a lot of IBS sufferers and myself included have found that alpha-galactosidase supplements prevent these from triggering us. While they haven’t been formally studied for IBS the rationale is sound, given that they break apart the fodmaps in beans and allow us to absorb rather than ferment them. You still get all the other benefits of beans.

  5. Dr. Greger, I’m still on the smoothie phase (undigested salads despite enzymes & herbs, no food combining, low fodmap) of Markus Rothkranz ‘s raw diet regimen. I still have abdominal bloat (increased), urinary urgency, lower extremity edema (only 42 yrs old) (was mild) now moderate tricuspid valve regurg., constipation, (doing enemas daily as Markus said), low rbcs & low wbcs, sob laying down at times. Drs are puzzled. Will see pulmonologist. Any thoughts? If not please keep me in your prayers. Thank you.

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