Juicing has become an increasingly popular way for people to boost their intake of fruits and vegetables. By extracting the liquid from fresh produce, you can easily consume a concentrated dose of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.
Many people choose to juice because it’s an efficient way to get your daily serving of fruits and veggies. Some also believe it can help with weight loss or detoxification. However, one side effect of juicing that isn’t often discussed is its impact on bowel movements.
So does drinking vegetable and fruit juice really make you poop more? Let’s take a closer look at the science behind juicing and digestion.
Fiber content in juice
One of the main reasons that juicing affects bowel habits is the low fiber content of most juices. Fiber is the indigestible part of plant foods that passes through our gastrointestinal tract undigested.
Soluble fiber absorbs water as it moves through the digestive system, forming a gel-like substance. This helps soften and add bulk to stool, allowing it to pass more easily through the intestines.
Meanwhile, insoluble fiber doesn’t dissolve in water. It helps move material quickly through the digestive tract and promotes regularity.
However, the juicing process removes most of the insoluble fiber content from produce. This means that drinking juice instead of eating whole fruits and vegetables reduces your total daily fiber intake.
In addition to being low in fiber, juice is high in naturally occurring fruit sugars and carbohydrates. The sugars and carbohydrates exert an osmotic effect, meaning they pull water into the colon.
This extra fluid softens the stool, potentially inducing a laxative effect. The high concentration of fructose from fruit juices can also speed up transit time in the small intestine.
Some juices may have a stronger osmotic and laxative effect based on their sugar content. For example, grape, apple, and pineapple juices are relatively high in sugars compared to juices like carrot and tomato.
Keep in mind that people’s bodies react differently to consuming juice. Your individual response depends on factors like:
- Your current fiber intake
- Any underlying gastrointestinal issues
- Your gut bacteria
- If you have diarrhea or are constipated
For instance, someone with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may react more severely to the high sugar content of juice than someone with a healthy gut.
Juicing large amounts of produce on an empty stomach can also cause digestive discomfort in those not accustomed to it.
Impact on regularity
Drinking juice could stimulate more bowel movements, especially if you juice fruits and veggies that have a laxative effect. These include:
Some vegetables may also promote regularity when juiced. For example, cabbage, celery, cucumber, and spinach all have a high water content.
However, due to the lack of insoluble fiber, drinking fruit and vegetable juices long-term could potentially cause irregular stools. Without fiber’s bulk-forming effects, stools may become looser or constipation could develop in some people.
Tips for juicing
Here are some suggestions to minimize the impact of juicing on bowel movements:
- Drink juice in moderation as part of a balanced diet high in fiber from whole fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds.
- Include pulp in juices whenever possible to get a boost of fiber.
- Drink juices slowly and avoid excessive quantities, especially on an empty stomach.
- Mix produce with a lower sugar content into your juices, like cucumber, celery, spinach and kale.
- Choose raw juicing over pasteurized, bottled juices which have less nutritional value.
- Consider diluting fruit juices with water, club soda or herbal tea.
The bottom line
Juicing can be a healthy way to increase your micronutrient intake and fit more servings of fruits and veggies into your day. But fiber is an important part of a balanced diet too.
The increase in fluids, sugars and carbohydrates from juice could stimulate more frequent bowel movements, and the lack of fiber could impact your stool over the long-term.
Enjoy juices in moderation as part of a diet high in fiber from whole plant foods. Listen to your body’s response and adjust your juicing habits accordingly to maintain regularity.
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|Fruit or Vegetable||Sugar Content (per 100g)||Effect on Bowel Movements|
|Apple||10g||May have mild laxative effect|
|Beet||7g||Unlikely to affect bowel habits|
|Carrot||5g||Unlikely to cause loose stools|
|Celery||1g||May promote regularity|
|Grape||16g||May have laxative effect|
|Orange||9g||May have mild laxative effect|
|Pineapple||10g||May stimulate bowel movements|
|Spinach||1g||May promote regularity|
|Tomato||3g||Unlikely to affect bowel habits|