Prunes vs. Metamucil vs. Vegan Diet

Prunes vs. Metamucil vs. Vegan Diet
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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.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

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.  

The name change is in hopes of “de-emphasiz[ing] its connections to digestive regularity issues.” But, hey, why sell yourself short? Check this out: “Randomised clinical trial: prunes vs. [Metamucil, also known as] psyllium.” “Constipation is a common problem that affects up to [a fifth] 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 [have] 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 actually work? Here’s the study subjects at baseline. Each dot is a complete, spontaneous bowel movement. Note how many people had zero bowel movements per week, at baseline. About an average of 1.7 a week, which went up to 3.5 on prunes; a bowel movement every other day or so. Then, back to baseline, off of the 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, as well. The researchers conclude that “treatment with dried plums resulted in a greater improvement in constipation symptoms…[than the] commonly used fibre supplement, psyllium.”

So, “[g]iven their palatability, tolerability…availability, dried plums should be considered” as a first-line therapy for chronic constipation.

If this is what adding one plant can do—3.5 bowel movements a week—what if all you ate was plants? Where do vegans rate? Going, going, gone. Not 2, not 3, but 10.9 a week.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to OliBac via flickr

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

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.  

The name change is in hopes of “de-emphasiz[ing] its connections to digestive regularity issues.” But, hey, why sell yourself short? Check this out: “Randomised clinical trial: prunes vs. [Metamucil, also known as] psyllium.” “Constipation is a common problem that affects up to [a fifth] 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 [have] 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 actually work? Here’s the study subjects at baseline. Each dot is a complete, spontaneous bowel movement. Note how many people had zero bowel movements per week, at baseline. About an average of 1.7 a week, which went up to 3.5 on prunes; a bowel movement every other day or so. Then, back to baseline, off of the 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, as well. The researchers conclude that “treatment with dried plums resulted in a greater improvement in constipation symptoms…[than the] commonly used fibre supplement, psyllium.”

So, “[g]iven their palatability, tolerability…availability, dried plums should be considered” as a first-line therapy for chronic constipation.

If this is what adding one plant can do—3.5 bowel movements a week—what if all you ate was plants? Where do vegans rate? Going, going, gone. Not 2, not 3, but 10.9 a week.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to OliBac via flickr

Doctor's Note

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 other videos 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 (see Some Dietary Supplements May Be More Than a Waste of Money).

See my 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, my next video, Do Fruit & Nut Bars Cause Weight Gain? should help put your mind at ease.

For more context, you can refer to my associated blog posts: Best Dried Fruit For CholesterolBest Treatment for ConstipationRaisins vs. Energy Gels for Athletic Performance; and Flax Seeds for Diabetes.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

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