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Can pomegranate juice cause constipation?

Pomegranate juice has become a popular health drink in recent years due to its antioxidant properties and potential health benefits. However, some people have reported experiencing constipation after drinking pomegranate juice. In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at whether pomegranate juice can cause constipation.

What is Constipation?

Constipation refers to infrequent, difficult, or incomplete bowel movements. People with constipation may experience hard, dry stools, straining, bloating, and discomfort. Constipation is generally defined as fewer than three bowel movements per week. The normal range for bowel movements is quite broad, from three per day to three per week. As long as stool passes easily, constipation is unlikely.

Common Causes of Constipation

There are many potential causes of constipation, including:

  • Low fiber diet
  • Dehydration
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Medications
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Certain supplements and foods

Diet and lifestyle factors play a major role in constipation. A low fiber diet, inadequate fluid intake, sedentary lifestyle, and travel can all contribute. Certain medications like opioids, antacids, iron supplements, and antidepressants may also cause constipation as a side effect.

Nutritional Profile of Pomegranate Juice

To understand if pomegranate juice can cause constipation, we need to look at its nutritional composition:

Nutrient Per 8 oz (240 ml) serving
Calories 134
Total carbohydrates 33 g
Sugars 31 g
Dietary fiber 0.5 g
Potassium 666 mg
Vitamin C 22% DV
Vitamin K 12% DV

Pomegranate juice is high in sugars like glucose and fructose. It contains very little fiber, with less than 1 gram per serving. It also has minerals like potassium and vitamins C and K.

Fructose and Digestive Issues

The high fructose content of pomegranate juice may contribute to digestive issues like constipation in some people. Fructose is a FODMAP, a type of carbohydrate that can be poorly absorbed in the small intestine. When fructose reaches the large intestine, gut bacteria ferment it, producing gas, bloating, and changes in motility.

Fructose malabsorption and intolerances are quite common, affecting up to 40% of people in some studies. Individual tolerance varies greatly. Some people experience issues with small amounts of fructose, while others can tolerate larger servings.

Fiber Content of Pomegranate Juice

Pomegranate juice is also very low in dietary fiber, with less than 1 gram per 8 ounce serving. Fiber normalizes bowel movements by adding bulk and weight to stool. It also feeds the healthy bacteria in our colon, increasing stool bulk and moisture.

Insufficient fiber intake is one of the most common causes of constipation. Health authorities recommend 25-38 grams of fiber per day for adults. Most people fall short of this, averaging only 16 grams daily.

Other Causes of Constipation

While fructose and low fiber intake may play a role, pomegranate juice may also cause issues due to:

  • Tannins – These polyphenols give pomegranates their astringent taste. High tannin foods like tea and red wine may have a binding effect on stools.
  • Sorbitol – Pomegranate juice contains sorbitol, a natural sugar alcohol that can cause diarrhea or constipation when consumed in excess.
  • Potassium – Pomegranate juice is high in potassium, which can reduce digestion and peristalsis when intake is very high.
  • Natural variation – Some individuals may have an intolerance or sensitivity to compounds in pomegranate juice.

Tips to Prevent Constipation from Pomegranate Juice

Here are some tips to help prevent constipation from drinking pomegranate juice:

  • Drink plenty of fluids.Aim for 8-10 glasses of water, herbal tea, broths, etc daily.
  • Eat high fiber foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds. Gradually increase fiber to 25-35 grams daily.
  • Exercise regularly to stimulate digestion and motility.
  • Limit pomegranate juice to 4-8 oz per day and dilute with water.
  • Slowly sip small quantities of juice throughout the day rather than drinking a large glass at once.
  • Try mixing juice with sparkling water or another high fiber fruit juice.
  • Take a probiotic supplement or eat probiotic foods to support healthy gut flora.

When to See a Doctor

Occasional constipation is usually nothing to worry about. However, you should consult a doctor if you experience:

  • Persistent or worsening constipation
  • Blood in stool
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Frequent abdominal pain or cramps

These symptoms may indicate an underlying medical condition requiring diagnosis and treatment.

Conclusion

Pomegranate juice contains fructose, sorbitol, tannins and very little fiber. For some people, this combination of nutrients may contribute to constipation, especially when consumed in excess. The key is moderation. Limit juice portions to 4-8 oz diluted with water and pair with a high fiber diet, adequate hydration and regular exercise. See a doctor if constipation is severe or accompanied by other concerning symptoms.