Can adults drink apple juice for constipation?

Constipation is a common condition affecting people of all ages. It occurs when stool passes through the large intestine too slowly, causing it to become hard, dry, and difficult to eliminate. Constipation can cause abdominal pain, bloating, and discomfort. When over-the-counter laxatives and lifestyle changes don’t provide relief, some people turn to natural remedies like drinking apple juice to help get things moving again.

What Causes Constipation in Adults?

Constipation can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

  • Not enough fiber in the diet
  • Not enough fluids
  • Lack of exercise
  • Stress
  • Travel or changes in routine
  • Certain medications like painkillers, iron supplements, antidepressants
  • Diseases like diabetes, thyroid disorders, neurological conditions
  • Pregnancy
  • Ignoring urges to have a bowel movement

As people age, constipation becomes more common due to slower movement through the colon, weaker abdominal muscles, side effects of medications, and poor dietary and fluid intake.

How Does Apple Juice Help Relieve Constipation?

Drinking apple juice can provide temporary relief from constipation in a few key ways:

  • Apple juice contains sorbitol, a natural laxative sugar alcohol that pulls water into the large intestine to soften and loosen stool.
  • The juice also provides fluids which add bulk and moisture to stool.
  • It contains antioxidants and nutrients like vitamin C and potassium which support healthy digestion.
  • The tart flavor stimulates digestive juices like bile to get things moving.

Research suggests apple juice’s sorbitol content gives it more constipation-relieving power than other fruit juices. A 2005 study in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that drinking 200 ml of pressed apple juice significantly increased bowel movements in elderly constipated patients.

How Much Apple Juice Should You Drink for Constipation?

There is no established recommended dosage, but many health sources suggest drinking around 8 ounces (250 ml) of apple juice once or twice per day to relieve constipation. It’s best to start with a small amount like 4-6 ounces (120-180 ml) and see how your body responds.

Drinking too much apple juice can lead to gas, bloating, diarrhea, and new onset constipation after the initial bowel movement due to excess fructose without adequate fiber. If your symptoms persist or worsen, decrease the amount or stop drinking it altogether.

When Will Apple Juice Work for Constipation Relief?

Apple juice’s effects can be felt within a few hours, but may take up to 3 days to fully work. The timing varies based on the individual and severity of constipation.

Here is a general timeline of when you can expect results:

  • 30 minutes to 2 hours – Abdominal rumbling and gurgling as apple juice moves through the intestines
  • 2 to 12 hours – Gas, bloating, and mild abdominal discomfort as the colon is stimulated
  • Within 24 hours – Softer, easier to pass stool
  • 24 to 72 hours – Relief from constipation

Drink apple juice for constipation consistently for 2-3 days to get the full effects. Avoid overdoing it to prevent diarrhea. Seek medical advice if constipation lasts more than 3 days.

Other Apple Juice Constipation Remedies to Try

For added constipation relief, try combining apple juice with other natural remedies:

  • Warm apple juice – Heat relaxes the bowels and maximizes apple juice’s effects. Gently warm 8 ounces of juice and drink slowly.
  • Apple juice with lemon – Lemon juice stimulates the senses and adds vitamin C. Mix 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice into 8 ounces of apple juice.
  • Prune apple juice – For stubborn constipation, combine 4 ounces each of apple juice and prune juice. Prunes are dried plums very high in sorbitol.
  • Apple pear juice – Pears also contain sorbitol. Blend 4 ounces each of apple and pear juice.
  • Sparkling apple juice – The carbonation creates pressure to help move stool. Stir in a tablespoon of sparkling water.

Apple Juice vs. Prune Juice vs. Laxatives for Constipation

How does apple juice compare to other common constipation aids like prune juice and laxatives? Here is a quick comparison:

Apple Juice Prune Juice Laxatives
Onset of Action 2-12 hours 12-72 hours 0.5-6 hours
Ingredients Apples, sorbitol Prunes, sorbitol Bisacodyl, polyethylene glycol, docusate sodium, senna
Side Effects Gas, bloating, diarrhea Gas, bloating, diarrhea Cramps, bloating, electrolyte imbalance
Safety Safe for most Safe for most Use caution long-term

While apple juice and prune juice are slower acting than laxatives, they are gentler on the body and safe to use daily. Laxatives are fast and effective but not ideal for long-term use due to side effects.

Tips for Preventing Constipation with Diet

While apple juice can provide short-term constipation relief, the best solution is prevention through proper diet and lifestyle. Follow these diet tips to keep your bowels moving regularly:

  • Eat 25-35 grams of fiber daily from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds.
  • Drink 6-8 glasses of fluids like water, juices, teas daily.
  • Include probiotic foods like yogurt, kimchi, kombucha for healthy gut bacteria.
  • Limit processed foods low in fiber.
  • Reduce consumption of dairy, red meat which can be constipating for some.
  • Eat prunes – they act as natural stool softeners.
  • Stay active with exercise like walking which stimulates the bowels.

Making fiber and fluid-rich choices at mealtimes can keep your digestive system regular without the need for apple juice or laxatives. Speak to your doctor if diet changes don’t relieve chronic constipation.

Precautions with Apple Juice for Constipation

While generally safe, keep these precautions in mind:

  • Avoid apple juice if you have a fructose intolerance, IBS, or stomach ulcers as it may worsen symptoms.
  • Overuse can lead to diarrhea, cramps, bloating, and potassium loss.
  • Drink juices in moderation if you have diabetes due to their sugar content.
  • Don’t give apple juice to infants under 6 months old due to risk of illness.
  • See a doctor if severe pain, nausea, or constipation lasts more than 3 days.

Apple juice can provide gentle, temporary constipation relief for most healthy adults, but shouldn’t replace medical evaluation if symptoms persist. And remember – prevention through diet, exercise and lifestyle is key.

The Bottom Line

Drinking 8 ounces of apple juice 1-2 times per day can be an effective natural home remedy for alleviating constipation in adults. Thanks to its sorbitol content, fluids, nutrients, and tart flavor, apple juice helps soften and move stool through the colon more easily within 24-72 hours. For best results, try warm apple juice, combinations like apple prune juice, and sparkling varieties. While apple juice can provide short-term relief, fiber-rich foods, probiotics, fluids, exercise and lifestyle changes are needed to prevent constipation altogether. Speak to your doctor if OTC remedies and natural aids like apple juice fail to provide lasting relief.

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