Constipation is a common condition affecting people of all ages. It occurs when stool passes through the large intestine too slowly, becoming hard, dry and difficult to eliminate. Constipation has many possible causes, including lack of fiber, not enough fluids, lack of exercise and certain medications. While juice may seem like a good way to get nutrients and stay hydrated, some types could make constipation worse.
What is constipation?
Constipation refers to infrequent, difficult or incomplete bowel movements. Typically, constipation means bowel movements fewer than three times a week or stools that are hard, dry and difficult to pass. Other common symptoms include straining during bowel movements, a sense of blockage, bloating and abdominal discomfort.
Occasional constipation is usually nothing to worry about. However, persistent constipation may require medical attention to identify underlying causes. Without treatment, constipation can lead to complications like hemorrhoids or anal fissures. Severe cases may result in fecal impaction, requiring emergency medical care.
What causes constipation?
Constipation has many possible causes, including:
- Inadequate fiber intake
- Dehydration or not drinking enough fluids
- Lack of exercise or mobility
- Ignoring urges to have a bowel movement
- Certain medications like opioids, iron supplements or antacids
- Medical conditions like diabetes, neurological disorders, hypothyroidism or irritable bowel syndrome
- Intestinal obstructions
Diet and lifestyle factors play a major role in constipation. A low fiber diet, sedentary lifestyle and insufficient fluid intake slow the movement of waste through the colon. This allows more water to be absorbed from stool, leading to hard, dry stools.
Can juice help relieve constipation?
Many people try drinking juice to relieve constipation. Fruit and vegetable juices provide hydration along with dietary fiber, minerals like magnesium, and antioxidants. However, not all juices are created equal when it comes to relieving constipation.
Some juices may actually make constipation worse due to their composition, while others can be an effective remedy.
Juices that can relieve constipation
Some juices may help relieve constipation:
- Prune juice – Prunes are high in fiber and natural sorbitol, which has a mild laxative effect by drawing water into the intestines.
- Pear juice – Like apples, pears contain pectin, a soluble fiber that helps form stool and promotes bowel regularity.
- Apple juice – Apples are a good source of pectin. Apple juice provides hydration and fiber to aid elimination.
- Aloe vera juice – Aloe latex contains anthroquinones that stimulate intestinal contractions and water secretion into the colon.
- Beet juice – Beets are high in fiber. Some research indicates the nitrates in beets may stimulate gastric motility.
Drinking a 6-8 ounce glass of a high fiber juice like prune, pear or apple juice first thing in the morning may stimulate a bowel movement. Aim for juices with pulp, which provides more fiber and nutrients than strained juices.
Juices that can make constipation worse
On the other hand, some juices may actually exacerbate constipation, including:
- Orange juice – While oranges contain some fiber, orange juice with the pulp strained out has very little. The fructose in juice can also cause bloating.
- Grapefruit juice – Like orange juice, grapefruit juice without pulp provides hydration but negligible fiber.
- Carrot juice – Carrot juice has fiber from pulp but an excess may cause bloating and gas pains.
- Mango juice – Mangos have fiber, but some find mango juice aggravates constipation and abdominal discomfort.
In general, juices without pulp don’t have enough fiber to help normalize bowel function. Excess fructose from juices can also lead to gas, bloating and diarrhea when unabsorbed by the body.
Should you drink juice when constipated?
Drinking the right juices can provide short-term relief from constipation. Prune juice in particular may be an effective remedy, due to its fiber content, sorbitol and hydration. However, juices should not be the only approach to managing constipation.
To treat and prevent constipation, it’s important to:
- Eat more high fiber foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds
- Drink 6-8 glasses of fluids per day like water, herbal tea and vegetable broth
- Exercise regularly to stimulate intestinal motility
- Establish regular bathroom habits and don’t ignore urges to have a bowel movement
- Manage stress through relaxation techniques, meditation or yoga
- Consult a doctor about any medications or underlying conditions contributing to constipation
While juice can provide temporary relief, improving overall diet, activity levels and bowel habits is key for resolving chronic constipation long-term.
Potential risks and side effects of juice
Before turning to juice for constipation relief, be aware of potential risks:
- Fructose malabsorption – Too much fructose from juice may cause gas, bloating, diarrhea and abdominal pain if unabsorbed by the small intestine.
- Tooth decay – Fruit juices are high in simple sugars that can erode tooth enamel, especially if sipped throughout the day.
- Blood sugar spikes – The natural sugars in juice can cause rapid rises and falls in blood sugar levels.
- Weight gain – The calories in juice can contribute to excess calorie intake and weight gain over time.
- Nutrient deficiencies – Drinking juice instead of whole fruits and veggies reduces intake of fiber and other nutrients.
To minimize risks when drinking juice:
- Avoid drinking more than 4-6 ounces of juice at a time
- Consume pulp-free juice in moderation due to lower fiber content
- Drink juice with meals to reduce blood sugar spikes
- Rinse mouth with water after drinking juice
- Eat juiced fruits and vegetables rather than only drinking juices
When to see a doctor
Juice and dietary changes may resolve temporary bouts of constipation. However, contact your doctor if you experience:
- No bowel movements for 3 or more days
- Hard, dry stools
- Straining or pain when passing stool
- Persistent abdominal discomfort or bloating
- Blood in stool
- Unexplained weight loss
- Always needing laxatives to have a bowel movement
Chronic constipation may indicate an underlying medical condition requiring treatment. Seek prompt medical care if you experience fever, vomiting, rectal pain or you are unable to pass stool and gas.
Some juices like prune and pear juice contain fiber and sorbitol that can provide short-term relief from constipation. However, fruit juices overall do not address the underlying causes of constipation. To safely and effectively manage constipation long-term, it is important to eat a high fiber diet, stay hydrated, exercise regularly and have good bowel habits. Speak to your doctor if home remedies do not resolve chronic constipation or you experience severe symptoms.
|Type of Juice||Effect on Constipation|
|Prune juice||Relieves due to sorbitol and fiber|
|Pear juice||Relieves due to pectin fiber|
|Apple juice||Relieves due to pectin fiber|
|Aloe vera juice||Relieves due to anthraquinones|
|Orange juice||Can worsen due to low fiber|
|Grapefruit juice||Can worsen due to low fiber|
|Carrot juice||Can cause gas and bloating|
|Mango juice||Can cause abdominal discomfort|
In summary, juice can provide short-term constipation relief, especially high fiber juices like prune and pear juice. However, improving diet, hydration, exercise and bowel habits is important for resolving chronic constipation long-term. See your doctor if severe or persistent constipation occurs.